Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Liberal Democratic Party

Wow, this political party is like every Libertarian I’ve ever seen on a US politics comment thread.

Actually, that’s not fair on America – this lot make the Republican Party look like a bunch of Socialists.

Edited to add: no, it’s really not fair. Having now read most of their policies, I absolutely can’t stand these guys.

I don’t think I’d ever heard of the Liberal Democratic Party before I started writing this series of posts. Having glanced briefly at their website and noted that they are in favour of privatising *everything*, I do not feel that I have lost much by not hearing about them. They are all about small government, deregulation, private enterprise, free trade, and individual rights. An economic free-for-all, in other words, which has worked so well with banking over the last few years. The notion of community or interdependence appears to be a closed book to them. Not surprisingly, I do not find them very appealing.

So, who are they sending their preferences to this election? I suspect I could make a pretty good prediction based on what I have seen of their policies. But it turns out that I’d be wrong, so perhaps I should stop stereotyping and get on with the job (the closer I get to the end of this insane project – and this is my last political party, after which I only have to deal with four independents – the less patience I have, especially with parties I profoundly disagree with, so I am probably being less than fair). Their first handful of preferences go to the Sex Party, Senator On-Line and the Climate Sceptics, the DLP, Building Australia and One Nation. Oh dear. And what is the Sex Party doing in such inauspicious company (truthfully, what it is probably doing is promoting personal freedoms, I’m just bemused at the company it’s keeping). When it comes to major parties, they pick Family First, then alternate Liberal and Labor down the ticket. Not surprisingly, the Communists (Greens, Socialist Alliance and Socialist Equality Party) are at the bottom of the ticket.

The basic principle of this party is that the government needs to stay out of people’s lives. This is reflected both in their view that adults should be allowed to do and say what they like (including with regard to their sex lives, hence the high placement of the Sex Party on the ticket), and their view that the government should lower taxes and provide fewer services. This is at least internally consistent – I’m just not sure it’s a world I’d want to live in.

Their first policy is therefore to reduce taxes, and their second to oppose censorship – of the internet, books, speech and lightbulbs.

Yes, lightbulbs. Because apparently the nanny state is forcing us to get rid of incandescent lightbulbs in favour of low energy lightbulbs. Much is made of the symbolism of this, but I think I’ll let all of you figure this out for yourselves.

In marginally less mockable policy, here’s what they say about free speech:

The importance of free speech is not diminished by the fact that some speech is wrong, mean or causes offence to someone. The best response to bad ideas is to put them under the scrutiny that can only exist in a free and open battle of ideas. Truth has nothing to fear from free speech, and neither does Australia.

I don’t know about this. I’m in favour of free speech, and given the circumstances of this blog post, I can hardly deny that putting bad ideas out into the open where people can scrutinise them (and, in this case, mock them) can be quite effective. But… there is something in the way this is phrased that reminds me of internet trolls. Freedom of speech is important, but, in the words of DL Sayers, “some consideration for others is necessary in community life.” Openness is good. Telling truth to power is definitely good. But considering the feelings of others before we speak is not merely the grease that allows social interactions to run smoothly, it is also simple kindness. So let’s have freedom of speech, but let’s also have some thought for the humanity of people we speak to. Truth has nothing to fear from kindness, either.

The Liberal Democratic Party wants us to say no to the Nanny State:

The government constantly ties up enterprising businesses in regulations and red tape that prevent them from investing, expanding and employing more people.

It insists we should eat healthy foods, not smoke, wear a helmet when we ride a bicycle and not use marijuana. It tells us how to discipline our children, whether we can renovate our houses and who we can marry. It prevents us from owning a weapon to protect our families in our own home and stops us from obtaining help to end our own lives even we are in terminal pain. It forces us to vote even when we don’t want to.

The LDP believes people should make their own choices and accept responsibility for the consequences. It believes governments have neither the expertise nor the right to tell people how to run their lives and should stick to things like protecting Australia from attack and safeguarding property rights.

The LDP believes in legalising assisted suicide, the right of self defence and voluntary voting. It considers property owners, not the government, should decide whether smoking is allowed on their property and whether to remove trees.

It believes the government has no business regulating victimless crimes such as adult consensual prostitution, adult pornography or risky behaviour that harms nobody else. It believes speed limits should be determined by what most motorists regard as safe, not what public servants deem to be acceptable.

Where do I even start? We have the good old ‘caveat emptor’ principle (the government shouldn’t regulate business – this restricts people’s choices!). We have the ideal of personal responsibility (which is an excellent thing, but quickly turns into a feeling of no obligation or responsibility to anyone else). We have the guaranteed ticket to Catherine’s bottom-of-the-ballot paper slot – the right to bear arms. We have ‘victimless crimes’, which include prostitution (not so sure that this is entirely victimless, myself) and speeding. Because, obviously, the idea that travelling at higher speeds means that a) it takes you longer to stop and b) any impact occurs at higher momentum and thus with higher force and is likely to cause greater damage, is a nanny state myth. It also ignores the fact that even if someone does have the right to drive like an idiot at risk to themselves and anyone else who ‘freely chooses’ to be in their vehicle, they are not the only person on the roads. I note also that the government’s role is limited to defense of property and of the country, which just makes me grind my teeth. What about roads? Hospitals? Education? Don’t you worry, we’ll be getting to those shortly.

I don’t want a Nanny State that tells me what I can eat or what I can wear or what I can read. But I do think that some laws and regulations are needed to protect the unwary or the young or the disadvantaged from the ruthless, the incautious or the stupid. I wonder if you could characterise this lot’s view as a form of social Darwinism? They certainly seem to have no empathy or concern for anyone who falls foul of someone else who is exercising his or her right to free speech, dangerous driving or unethical business practices.

Ooh, and here’s a nice one:

Whether or not the world is getting warmer, and whether or not humans are contributing, the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme is bad policy. The Liberal Democratic Party believes there will be far less misery if society is simply encouraged to adapt to the changing climate, allowing market responses to proceed and providing support to any people or countries that are genuinely adversely affected.

Fear not, for the Market will provide.

The Market will provide when it comes to the Environment, too, because apparently “The species most in danger of extinction are those owned by government or which are not the subject of private property rights. The best way to protect native species from extinction is to make them valuable. This is obvious from the fact that apple trees and cats and dogs are in no danger of extinction, despite being entirely unprotected by the government.”

No, I really don’t think that’s how it works. Also, environmentalism is a form of sentimentality, or possibly a religion, but anyway, environmentalists need to realise that they would be better off with a free market.

The LDP will reform legislation governing ownership and control of endangered species to permit private ownership, breeding and trade. The lack of such freedom of trade and the inability to place a market value on endangered species is the principle reason that private conservation initiatives, including John Wamsley’s Earth Sanctuaries, have so far been limited in their success.

This reform will give environmental and conservation groups the freedom they are now denied, to buy the relevant natural resources and devote them to conservation purposes. This will greatly increase the ability of genuine conservation groups to protect endangered species at the same time as it fosters civil society and respects private property, removing bureaucratic vested interests in the publicly-funded neglect of endangered species….

The hunting of certain native animals is one of the few means by which they can be given a commercial value that ensures their survival. In some areas of Africa, commercial hunting of big game species has made them so commercially valuable that poaching is no longer a problem…

The LDP would remove regulatory barriers to sustainable yield hunting by both amateur and professional hunters of kangaroos, crocodiles and ducks.

War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and killing endangered species is a great way to protect them from extinction.

And of course, they want to remove regulatory barriers to keeping native species as pets, because these discourage people from having native species on their properties. I know, I know, that big government and it’s Nanny State ways – can you imagine, it actually insists that people who own endangered or native species are qualified to look after them properly and treat them humanely? Ridiculous!

Actually, you know, one thing that strikes me about all this unleashed libertarianism is its optimism about the human condition. There seems to be a real belief that people left completely unregulated will act in a right manner. Or at least, I hope they believe this, because to my mind it’s the only belief that can justify this kind of policy.

Other environmental policies include privatising water (!!) and reducing recycling (!!!). They are also in favour of whaling, on the same cock-eyed principle as their views on hunting, above.

The Liberal Democrats are pro-immigration, because “immigrants generally provide a net social and economic benefit to Australia. [The LDP] supports expanding opportunities to live and work in Australia while carefully guarding opportunities to receive welfare or become full citizens.” Or vote, as it turns out (this is hidden well down the page). We want your labor, you see, but that doesn’t mean you get full rights. Also, immigrants should pay for the privelege of citizenship and share our values of ‘democracy, freedom and personal responsilibity’. They also want ‘Free Immigration Arrangements’ with certain, carefully selected countries. Their policies on refugees is, however, positively liberal, by their standards:

It is important that Australia provide a sanctuary for people who are fleeing political oppression and persecution, both on compassionate grounds and to demonstrate to the rest of the world the attractions of a free and democratic society. Such people can also become fierce advocates of freedom in Australia, having experienced its loss.

It is necessary to do preliminary health and security checks on all people coming to Australia. Unfortunately, it is not possible to do these checks on unauthorized arrivals before they come to Australia. It is therefore necessary to detain unauthorized arrivals temporarily until basic health and security checks can be completed.

Following these checks the unauthorized arrival can then apply for PR either by paying the immigration fee, applying for an “immigration scholarship” or “immigration loan” or by applying for humanitarian consideration. The process of determining genuine refugee status will be limited to a tribunal of first instance and a single court of appeal. Both will be open to the public.

While awaiting a decision on humanitarian grounds, unauthorized arrivals can apply for temporary release, with bail conditions. Any individual or organization can offer to post a bail equal to the immigration fee. If the unauthorized arrival is denied entry on humanitarian grounds and they refuse to leave the country, then the bail money will be used to pay the immigration fee.

Everything, but everything, comes down to monetary value for this lot. I am become increasingly enraged (Andrew seems amused by the loud, incoherent angry noises periodically emitted as I read yet another instance of egregious stupidity or selfishness).

Unsurprisingly, they want tax reform.

The tax-free threshold (TFT) would be increased to $30,000 per person and all tax expenditures (tax deductions, offsets, and so on) would be removed.

The current welfare system would be replaced by a sliding scale of payments (called a Negative Income Tax or NIT) that phased out at 30% and finished at an income of $30,000.

For example, if you earned $0, you would receive 30% of $30,000 ($9000). If you earned $10,000, you would receive 30% of $20,000 ($6000). If you earn $25,000, you would receive 30% of $5000 ($1500). This would involve a cut in payments to the unemployed and an increase in payments to low-income earners.

They also want to remove the Medicare levy, which fills me with fear for our health system. They claim that this system “massively reduces unemployment and poverty. Second, it ends discrimination against couples. Third, it ends discrimination against risky business and inconsistent income.” Of course “the price is that some sacred cows of politics (‘progressive’ tax, minimum wage, no-person-worse-off) will have to be sacrificed.”

Setting aside my ire at the sacrifical cows (which you presumably sacrifice by hunting them for fun and profit), The thing is, this simply isn’t true. I don’t claim to speak economics, but changing the tax system to make it more beneficial to seek work than to be unemployed does not actually create jobs, and therefore cannot possibly lead to any significant rise in employment unless the problem is that there are jobs going begging and lots of lazy people refusing to apply for them – and this simply is not the case. There is no job creation aspect to this policy, just the assumption that the unemployed don’t really want to work and need to be pushed.

The Liberal Democratic Party wants to deregulate and privatise as much as possible.

The LDP advocates an immediate end to government ownership of the ABC, SBS, Australia Post, Medibank Private, electricity generation corporations, and bus, ferry and rail services. Over time, they would also like to privatise hospitals, schools, and universities. Because we have seen how very well privatised healthcare works in the USA. And privatised universities could not possibly stifle research…

They also want to reduce regulation in things like workers compensation insurance, liquor licensing, gambling, and occupational licensing and certification.

While some people complain that the free market cannot work because people are selfish, that is exactly why the free market does work. In 1776 Adam Smith first explained the concept of the “invisible hand”, where the pursuit of self-interest leads to the public good. More than 200 years later the concept remains true and has been proven time and time again.

As long as there is the rule of law and a voluntary system, the profit-maximising behaviour of businesses will lead to the best outcomes. Intervening in the process to create different incentives will only distort the market and lead to a less efficient outcome. The worst form of interference is government ownership* and control, which reduces the profit motive, but even subtle political manipulation can lead to a sub-optimal outcome.

Andrew is trying to write essays and my screams of rage are apparently disruptive, so I’ll just say that I don’t agree with this, I don’t believe it works, and I think this philosophy is both wrong and dangerous.

The LDP believes in free trade. Nobody is surprised by this. They don’t believe in welfare, because apparently this encourages dependency and is destructive of self-respect. They want to encourage people to work.

Where people are genuinely unable to provide for themselves they should be supported primarily through social institutions such as family, friends, their local community, religious groups and private charities.

Because being dependent on charity from your family or local community could certainly not be destructive of self-respect, and I’m sure it wouldn’t lead to infringements of your personal liberties, either. If you’re disabled and don’t have a supportive family, you’re pretty much screwed. But that’s OK, because the LDP is also in favour of assisted suicide if you want to end your life!

And did I mention they believe in personal responsibility? Personal responsibility, in this case, extends to a responsibility to overcome any disadvantages that your gender, race, wealth or religion may have inflicted on you, without any support from the government.

The LDP is fundamentally opposed to programs that seek to impose particular values on society or to correct perceived disadvantage through affirmative action. We believe all Australians deserve to be treated equally well by the Government and all to be held responsible for their own individual choices and actions.

The LDP would:

* Abolish all affirmative action programs on the grounds that they are discriminatory, patronising and unfair.
* Abolish all government funded programs and bodies that cater to particular ethnic, religious or gender groups. All Australians should be regarded as equal before the law.
* Abolish government funding for bodies such as the Anti Discrimination Commission and Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia.
* Remove the power of all bodies except courts to issue binding decisions on matters such as Discrimination, Harassment, Unfair Dismissal and Vilification.

You know, this commentary is on the verge of degenerating into a repeated chant of ‘Fuck them. Just fuck them’. I don’t know when I have hated a political party so much.

The LDP supports the right to own firearms for sport, hunting, collecting and self-defence…

Only armed, law-abiding citizens can be present in sufficient numbers to prevent or deter violent crime before it starts, or to reduce its spread. A criminal is more likely to be driven off from a particular crime by an armed victim than to be convicted and imprisoned for it. Thus, widespread gun ownership will make the community safer.

Ownership of firearms is also the only practical means by which the people can retain any semblance of ensuring that governments remain their servants and not vice versa. Although the ballot box and peaceful protest will always be the preferred means of removing unsatisfactory governments, history is full of examples where those options were denied.

And carrying concealed is just fine, too. But don’t worry – if people use guns coercively or to threaten others, their right to own weapons will be curtailed.

Enough said.

On Climate Change, obviously the government is not as competent to tackle this as the Almighty Free Market. Also, nuclear energy and uranium mining should be encouraged.

On health “The LDP will return to consumers control of individual health care choices.” Like the choice not to get the arthritis medication which might enable you to be sufficiently pain-free to work, because you need that money for rent. Or the right not to have heart surgery because you can’t afford that and food. They don’t actually *say* they want to abolish medicare, but, you know, while they would like to help the poor, it’s not fair that they should get first pick of scarce resources, and they should really ask their local communities or charities for help.

I am absolutely beside myself with rage at this point. I’m not sure I can actually finish this post, because I am so utterly furious and so deeply distressed at what is being proposed that I’m literally having trouble reading what is on the screen. Also, I’m driving Andrew absolutely demented even though I’m trying to be quiet, but every page has something new and shocking (actually, he tells me it isn’t so much that I’m annoying him as that he is concerned about my blood pressure). This is the most appalling set of policies I have read.

So I’m going to end this with the only three policies I quite like – they want to legalise marijuana, they have no problem with gay marriage, and they are in favour of self-determination for Tibet… though from what I can gather they are not willing to lift a finger to actually act on this.

This is the last political party I have to review – after this, I have four independents, two of whom are grouped together. I can honestly say I have never been so upset by any Australian political party. The Liberal Democratic Party appears to be quite small, and this is its only redeeming feature. I’m going to go off somewhere and cry now.

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