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Those Angry Libertarianz

Those Angry Libertarianz

By Lindsay Mitchell

I have been attempting to define what the difference is between a libertarian and a classical liberal, if indeed there is any. In New Zealand, a distinction might be drawn between the two in that a libertarian is more likely to support the Libertarianz Party and the classical liberal, the ACT party, but this is by no means absolute. So what motivates their choice? Both party's stand for increased freedom and limited government. Is it just a matter of degree? Or the difference between instant and incremental change? Or is there something more fundamentally different about these two parties?

Libertarianz leader, Russell Watkin's recent attack on the ACT party's credentials gave me at least one clue. Both Libertarianz and ACT supporters are angry and frustrated with living with the results of state socialism and collectivism but the Libz let their anger get the better of them and for the main part, ooze negativity. ACT control their anger and turn it into positive energy and constructive action.

It is enough for the Libz to reel off the appropriate principle, be it "non- iniation of force" or "I own my own body" and then shut the debate down. In this respect, they are almost as bad as the Left, when they throw in the show-stoppers, "what about the children?" and "it's in the public's best interests."

Let me say that I support the decriminalisation of marijuana and prostitution but ACT's Stephen Franks is quite correct to describe these personal freedom issues as 'difficult'. Russell Watkins doesn't sit on select committees or scrutinise proposed legislation. His simplistic approach would be, prostitutes own their own lives and bodies and that's an end to it. Unfortunately the issue goes much deeper in terms of personal freedom. Does Watkins realise that the passage of this bill would give far greater powers to OSH ? Since when have the Libz been fans of one of the state's most intrusive agencies?

Likewise, if marijuana is decriminalised how much of the profit will the IRD demand? We talk now about the current law enriching criminals but the government, with all it's coercive powers, may simply wish to enrich itself. If the tobacco industry is anything to go by, dope may, instead of becoming cheaper and, by inference, reducing associated crime, become more expensive.

When piecemeal legislative changes occur within a framework of continuing big government and heavy-handed regulation, the issue of freedom is not straight forward. The Libz 'principled' approach could inadvertently reduce freedom. The devil is in the detail but detail is an anathema to Libertarianz.

When I was active in the Libertarianz party, nobody could ever convince me that the virtual overnight abolition of the welfare state would work. But to be consistent and 'principled', this is what a Libertarianz party must advocate and if it ever achieved majority power, implement. The result of immediately wiping out all unemployment benefits and most DPB benefits would be a huge increase in crime, if not a civil revolt. Many of those who had been dependent on welfare would become guests of New Zealand jails, costing more than they had on welfare. But because this expenditure falls into the category of Law and Order it is now a cost that the Libz believe is one that the state should rightfully meet. So how does this sit with a miniscule taxation theory? Perhaps prisons would be run by private charities but I imagine most of us can think of far more deserving recipients for our voluntary donations. Even if we could be persuaded to voluntarily support prisons, if that cost is more than we were paying in tax for welfare, what is the gain? But, the slaves-to- tenet Libz would argue, the principle is upheld - you are giving voluntarily rather than being coerced to give.

It has recently been suggested that the Libertarianz should not be a political party because in practice, they would be paralysed by their principles. I agree. They would do better as a lobby group or educational forum though I doubt that they would have the discipline to formulate thoughtful submissions. Simply turning up at every select committee and saying, "I own my own life," is going to get very boring, very quickly.

The Libertarianz berate ACT for giving freedom a bad name, for compromising, for advocating compulsion, even if that compulsion might be preferable to the current compulsion to cough up almost half of our earnings to support a disgusting socialist system. A system that breeds criminals, penalises hardwork, denigrates effort and excellence, arrogantly ignores and abuses private property rights and forces the individual to live for the collective.

I think it is the Libertarianz that give freedom a bad name. They expend more energy attacking those who can actually achieve freedom than they do attacking those who would rob us of it. And what's worse, a good number of them enjoy this practice.

One could be forgiven for mistaking this apparently freedom-loving party for one which is actually freedom-hating.

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