Greens and Libertarians: The Yin and Yang of our Political Future

Greens and Libertarians:
The Yin and Yang of our Political Future

by Dan Sullivan

Over the past three decades, people have become dissatisfied with both major parties, and two new minor parties are showing promise of growth and success. They are the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. These are not the only new parties, but they are the only ones that promise to attract people from across the political spectrum. Most other small parties are either clearly to the left of the Democrats or to the right of the Republicans. Such parties would have a place in a system that accommodates multiple parties, but are doomed to failure in a two-party system.

The Libertarian Party is made up mostly of former conservatives who object to the Republican Party’s penchant for militarism and its use of government to entrench powerful interests and shield them from market forces. The Green Party is made up mostly of former liberals who object to the Democratic Party’s penchant for centralized bureaucracy and its frequent hypocritical disregard for natural systems of ecological balance, ranging from the human metabolism and the family unit to the ecology of the planet.

Both minor parties attempt to adhere to guidelines that are much clearer than those of either major party. Libertarians focus on rights of individuals to control their own lives, limited only by the prohibition against interference with the rights of others. These rights include their right to the fruits of their labor and the right to freely associate and form contracts. They advocate limiting government to protecting those basic rights.

Greens advocate ten key values (ecological wisdom, grass roots democracy, social justice, non-violence, decentralization, community-based economics, post-patriarchal values, respect for diversity, personal and global responsibility, and sustainable future focus as a guide for government as well as for their own party organization.)

These different guidelines underscore basic differences between the approaches of the two parties and their members. Libertarians tend to be logical and analytical. They are confident that their principles will create an ideal society, even though they have no consensus of what that society would be like. Greens, on the other hand, tend to be more intuitive and imaginative. They have clear images of what kind of society they want, but are fuzzy about the principles on which that society would be based.

Ironically, Libertarians tend to be more Utopian and uncompromising about their political positions, and are often unable to focus on politically winnable proposals to make the system more consistent with their overall goals. Greens on the other hand, embrace immediate proposals with ease, but are often unable to show how those proposals fit in to their ultimate goals.

The most difficult differences to reconcile, however, stem from baggage that members of each party have brought with them from their former political affiliations. Most Libertarians are overly hostile to government and cling to the fiction that virtually all private fortunes are legitimately earned. Most Greens are overly hostile to free enterprise and cling to the fiction that harmony and balance can be achieved through increased government intervention.

Republicans and Democrats will never reconcile these differences, for whatever philosophical underpinnings they have are overwhelmed by vested interests that dominate their internal political processes. These vested interests thrive on keeping the distorted hostilities alive and suppressing any philosophical perspectives that might lead to rational resolution of conflict.

But because minor parties have no real power, they are still primarily guided by values and principles. Committed to pursuing truth above power, they should be more willing to challenge prejudices and expose flaws in their current positions.

There is nothing mutually exclusive between the ten key values of the Greens and the principles of the Libertarians. By reconciling these values and principles, we can bring together people whose allegiance to truth is stronger than their biases.

This could be of great value to both parties, partly because any new party that wants to break into a two-party system has to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters. But even more importantly, each party needs attributes the other has to offer. Libertarians need the intuitive awareness of the Greens to keep them from losing touch with people’s real values, and Greens need the analytical prowess of the Libertarians to keep them from indulging in emotional self-deception. Libertarians can teach Greens about the spirit of enterprise and the wonders of economic freedom, and Greens can teach Libertarians about the spirit of compassion and the wonders of community cohesion.

Reconciliation is absolutely necessary. Even if one of the parties could rise to power, it could do great harm by implementing its current agenda in disregard for the perspective of the other. Moreover, proposals that violate values and principles of one party often violate those of the other. If members of both groups come together to discuss each other’s proposals, they are likely not only to find areas of agreement, but to find conflicts between each group’s proposals and its own principals. If this happens, and the two parties work in concert, they stand a real chance of overtaking one of the major parties and drastically altering the political power structure.

Many third parties have had important impacts on American politics, but the last time a political party was dislodged was when the Republicans knocked the ailing Whig party out of contention over 130 years ago. It should be noted that the Republicans were a coalition of several minor parties with seemingly differing agendas, including the Abolitionist Party, the Free-Soil Party, the American (or Know-Nothing) Party, disaffected northern Democrats, and most of the members of the dying Whig Party. A similar coalition of parties has a much better chance of repeating this success today.

Anyone who looks at current national platforms of Greens and Libertarians will conclude that bringing these groups together is no easy task. For example, the Libertarian platform states dogmatically that they “oppose any and all increases in the rate of taxation or categories of taxpayers, including the elimination of deductions, exemptions, or credits in the name of ‘fairness’, ‘simplicity’. or ‘neutrality to the free market.’ No tax can ever be fair, simple, or neutral to the free market.” On the other hand, the national platform of the Greens leaves one with the impression that they never met a tax they didn’t like.

Yet the historical roots of the Greens and the Libertarians are quite similar. That is, early movements for alternative, intentional communities that live in harmony with nature greatly influenced, and were influenced by, anarcho-syndicalists who advanced principals now embraced by the Libertarian Party. This essay will attempt to show that the differences that have emerged are due less to stated principals and values of either group than to the baggage members have brought to each party from their liberal and conservative backgrounds.

On Conservatism and Liberalism

It is said that Libertarians have a conservative philosophy and Greens have a liberal philosophy. In reality, conservatism and liberalism are mere proclivities, and do not deserve to have the name “philosophy” attached to them. People who have more power than others are inclined to conserve it, and people who have less are inclined to liberate it. In Russia, as in feudal England, conservatives wanted more government control, as government was at the root of their power. Liberals wanted more private discretion.

In the United States today, where power has been vested in private institutions, conservatives want less government and liberals want more. What passes for conservative and liberal “philosophies” is merely a set of rationalizations that power-mongers hide behind.

Conservative support for traditional approaches and liberal support for new ways of doing things also follows from the desire for power. Traditional approaches have supported those now in power, and change threatens to disrupt their power. Changes are often embraced by conservatives once they prove unable to disrupt the underpinnings of power.

For Greens and Libertarians to rise above the power-based proclivities of liberalism and conservatism, they must focus on their roots and reconcile their positions with their philosophical underpinnings.

On the Roots of the Greens

In The Green Alternative, a popular book among American Greens, author Brian Tokar states that “the real origin of the Green movement is the great social and political upheavals that swept the United States and the entire Western world during the 1960’s.” As part of that upheaval, I remember the charge by elders that we acted as though “we had invented sex.” Mr. Tokar acts as though we had invented Green values.

Actually, all the innovative and vital features of the Greens stem from an earlier Green movement. The influx of disaffected liberals to the movement since the sixties has actually imbued that movement with many features early Greens would find offensive.

This periodical, for example, has been published more or less regularly since 1943, calling for intentional communities based on holistic living, decentralism, sharing natural bounty, freedom of trade, government by consensus, privately-generated honest monetary systems and a host of other societal reforms. Yet the founder, Ralph Borsodi, wrote extensively about the evils of the state, and would clearly oppose most of the interventionist policies brought to the Green Party by disaffected liberals and socialists. The same can be said of more famous proponents of Green values, such as Emerson and Thoreau.

The Green movement grew slowly and steadily and quite apart from mainstream liberalism throughout the sixties and seventies. In the eighties, however, it became clear that the liberal ship, and even more clear that the state socialist ship, was headed for the political rocks. The left had simply lost credibility, even among those who felt oppressed by the current system. Gradually at first, discouraged leftists discovered the Green movement provided a more credible platform for their positions.

Because of their excellent communications network, additional members of the left quickly discovered the Greens, embraced their values (at least superficially), joined their ranks and proceeded to drastically alter the Green agenda. For example, early Greens pushed for keeping economies more diverse and decentralized by promoting alternative, voluntary systems, and by criticizing lavish government expenditures on interstate highways, international airports, irrigation projects, and centralized bureaucracies that discriminated against small, independent entrepreneurs. Today the National Platform of the Green Party calls for “municipalization” of industry (that is, decentralized socialism), limits on foreign trade to save American jobs (which they insist is not protectionism), and other devices to create artificial decentralization under the guiding hand of some benevolent central authority.

The influence of Greens who are fond of government intervention (referred to as Watermelons by more libertarian Greens) seems to be strongest at the national level and weakest within most Green local organizations. Despite the National Green Platform’s resemblance to a new face on the old left, many people who are genuinely attracted to Green principles are either undermining or abandoning the left-dominated Green Party USA. Specifically, the principal of decentralism is being used to challenge the right of a national committee to dictate positions to local Greens. This is fortunate for those of us interested in a coalition of Greens and Libertarians, as reconciliation between the Green Left and libertarianism is clearly impossible.

On the Roots of Libertarianism

The Libertarian Party was born in 1970. Like the Green Party, it has philosophical roots that extend far back into history. It emerged, however, at a time when conservatism was in decline. Just as Greens attract liberals today and are strongly influenced by the liberal agenda, Libertarians attracted conservatives and were influenced by their agenda. However, as Libertarians are more analytically rigorous, there are fewer blatant inconsistencies between their positions and their principles.

Libertarian bias tends to show up more in prioritization of issues than in any particular issue. For example, Libertarians are far more prone to complain about the capital gains tax than about many other taxes, even though there is nothing uniquely un-libertarian about that particular tax.

Many Libertarians ignore classic libertarian writings and dwell on the works of Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises. The classical libertarians get mere superficial attention. For example, few have read Tragedy of the Commons, but many quote the title. Specifically, they are unwilling to recognize that the ecological mishaps like those referred to in that work had been absent for centuries when almost all land was common. As with the tragedy of the reservations, commons were abused because so many people had to share access to so little land. All this was a result of government sanction, allowing vast tracts of commonly held land to be appropriated by individuals without proper compensation to those who were dispossessed of access to the earth. These facts are ignored because they cannot be reconciled with pseudo-libertarian conservatism.

Just as contemporary Greens have fondness for government and contempt for private property that their forebears did not share, Libertarians take an extreme position on private property and have hostility to all forms of government that their philosophical predecessors did not share.

Their refusal to acknowledge natural limits to private property and their insistence of unlimited protection of property by the state is their one great departure from their predecessors and their principles. For example, they dismiss the following statement by John Locke, known as the father of private property:

God gave the world in common to all mankind. Whenever, in any country, the proprietor ceases to be the improver, political economy has nothing to say in defense of landed property. When the “sacredness” of property is talked of, it should be remembered that any such sacredness does not belong in the same degree to landed property.

They similarly ignore Adam Smith’s statement that:

Ground rents [land values] are a species of revenue which the owner, in many cases, enjoys without any care or attention of his own. Ground rents are, therefore, perhaps a species of revenue which can best bear to have a peculiar tax imposed upon them.

Private ownership of the earth and its resources is the one area where Libertarians depart from their own philosophy. After all, their justification of property is in the right of individuals to the fruits of their labor. Because the earth is not a labor product, land value is not the fruit of its owner’s labor. Indeed, all land titles are state-granted privileges, and Libertarians deny the right of the state to grant privileges.

Even here, Libertarians are on solid ground when they argue that freedom could not survive in a society where land tenure depended on bureaucratic discretion. They are split, however, over devices like land value taxation that would, with a minimum of bureaucracy, put the landless in a more tenable position with respect to land monopolists. Just as liberals dominate the National Greens, conservatives dominate the Libertarian position on this issue, though many Libertarians, including Karl Hess, former editor of the Libertarian Times, do not share that conservative position.

Again, this is a key issue for reconciliation. The Green tradition cannot be reconciled with pseudo-libertarian claims that a subset of the people can claim unlimited title to the planet.

The Magic of Honest Compromise

Compromise is too often a process whereby people on each side give up what they know to be right in order to gain a supposed advantage for their interest group. What I am proposing is that each side give up supposed advantages in order to harmonize with what is right. It takes an open mind and a great deal of courage, but the results can be magnificent.

If the Libertarians accept that ownership of land is a privilege, and agree to pay a fair rent (or land value tax) for that privilege, they will hold the key to getting rid of property (building) tax, income tax, sales tax, amusement tax, and a host of other taxes.

Furthermore, statistical evidence indicates that land value tax promotes compact, harmonious use of land and eliminates a root cause of poverty. In this case, adopting land tax can reduce the need for zoning and protection of rural land, and for housing projects, welfare, and a host of bureaucratic services for the poor.

Greens who study this issue will find that small and simple combination taxes that are essentially payments for exclusive access to common resources will address most of their interests without complicated and intrusive bureaucracies. Land tax itself will eliminate land speculation and land monopoly, and will promote orderly development of land in cities and towns, taking developmental pressure off suburban and rural land.

Severance taxes on our common heritage of non-renewable resources can even-handedly reduce the rate of exploitation of these resources, conserving them for future generations.

Finally, taxes on pollution are really payments for exclusive use of our common rights to clean air and water. It reflects that the air and water is less valuable to the rest of us when it is polluted, and those who pollute literally owe us for the right to trespass on our air and water.

Of course ending land monopoly will not solve all the problems by itself, but it is the key area where Greens and Libertarians are separated from each other as well as from their own principles. Once this is reconciled, we can more readily work together on other issues where we are in agreement, such as liberating our monetary system the banking monopoly, ending military domination of foreign peoples, and ending government interference against people who commit victimless “crimes.”


Greens and Libertarians: The Yin and Yang of our Political Future was first published in Green Revolution (Vol. 49-2, Summer of 1992) by the School of Living, and also circulated to Libertarian newsgroups.

Positive feedback having been received from within both camps, it’s interesting to contemplate what a powerful combination it might be were Greens and Libertarians able to obviate their excesses and unite politically against the obviously moribund economics of the Democrat and Republican parties.

POST-INDUSTRIAL, POST-COGNITIVE?

THANK GOD WE’RE EDUCATED!

We’ve graduated from tiresome trivialities such as manufacturing, because we’re now oriented towards tertiary industry. We’ve machinery and appliances to assist us and have become too smart to be involved in physical work.  So, as the education and knowledge we’ve acquired represents power, Australia can properly be said to have become a post-industrial power.  [Hmmm …]

Oh, certainly, some primary and secondary industry still persists but, with the exception of mining, it’s really nothing to speak of. That which remains is just an aberration, the appendix of an era that has fortunately passed us by.

So, apart from mining, Australia is these days mainly about education, finance, insurance, real estate, restaurants and entertainment. Oh, and analytical commentary by a multiplicity of experts, which in itself constitutes a substantial tertiary industry.

You’ll observe that the Chinese are much less progressed. Therefore, they still have many years ahead of them in manufacturing before they can hope to become post-industrial like us.

Yes, we’re post-industrial all right.

How did we do it? How were America and Australia able to make this near-magical transition from manufacturing wealth, to leaving other countries tossed about in the wake of our service sector?

It wasn’t easy. We were astonishingly clever.

Both in Australia and America, taxation scholars noted that in the early days, we didn’t have a tax on our incomes. The US introduced income tax as a WWI measure, and Australia only introduced it federally during WWII.

That was because in the early years of both countries we’d set our sights on manufacturing. I mean, you don’t levy an income tax if you want to be tops at producing things, do you?

In those days, apart from excises, taxes on land were commonly used to raise revenue. Philadelphia’s first tax law was, in fact, passed unanimously on 30 January 1693 as follows:-

“Put to the vote: as many are of the opinion that a public tax upon the land ought to be raised to defray the public charge, say ‘yea’.” ….
“Carried in the affirmative, none dissenting.”

So, after WWs I and II respectively, US and Australian tax scholars and politicians began to think we really ought to keep a lid on manufactures by retaining these new income taxes. Conversely, we should start to get taxes off land if we wished to extend and to foster the real estate industry and banking, and other such tertiary industry.

Their thinking was inspired!

And so it was that taxes on land began to be wound back as we sought to promote property investment, progressively relying on greater income taxes to curb the possibility of overproduction in the manufacturing sector.

In Australia, Prime Minister Menzies removed the federal land tax in 1953, and, at the outset of the ’70s, Gough Whitlam decided to fund half of local government – which had formerly funded itself from property rates – out of the federal income tax.

We were well down the track to becoming post-industrial!

[Fast forward to the end of the first decade of the 21st century.]

HEAVEN ON EARTH?

So, here we are, Australia and America, along with other post industrial nations, having sent most of our industry offshore to China, to keep them making goods cheaply for us that we used to have to make for ourselves.

This allows us to direct our attention into using our often tertiary-educated brains to invest. We have the choice of investing in the share market, in real estate, on the gee gees, or on the pokies. And the super industry is able to invest our compulsory superannuation levy on any combination of all four! These are but some of the benefits of the tax system having liberated us from the daily grind of actually producing widgets. We are free to exercise the gifts our education has given to us in so many other areas.

We have been liberated and have so much leisure time on our hands, with few cares or concerns.  [On this score, has anybody noticed the tax regime has rendered our Productivity Commission redundant? Can’t they all just retire and go home now?]

And here we are on 24 July 2011. Aren’t things going just swimmingly in the post-industrial west? Is this not what the Indians call nirvana?

I can’t image who permitted Ken Henry’s ‘Australia’s Future Tax System’ panel to break into our reverie to suggest we ought to abolish most of our taxes on industry, and to institute a federal land tax and a mining rent.

That’s not post-industrial at all.

Tell him he’s dreaming!

 

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A BIT OF BANK REFORM – “LIVING WILLS”

Courtesy AFR 20 July 2011

The following 2005 letter gives the right impression if it shows I’m no real friend of the current operations of the RBA or APRA.  They like to react to events, rather than planning for them and making necessary suggestions to government that might facilitate their operational efficiency.

From The Australian Financial Review
www.afr.com Monday 21 November 2005:-
_________________________

Home truths for RBA and APRA

Phil Naylor, the chief executive of the Mortgage Industry Association of Australia, argues that mortgage brokers should not have to “take the rap” for the poor quality of home loans (“Don’t blame the brokers”, Letters, November 18).

Mr Naylor is correct, of course, because this smacks too much of searching for scapegoats. The competition between banks and lending institutions to write home loans during property booms has a habit of getting out of hand, and this highlights a structural problem which needs to be addressed at a much higher level.

The creation and eventual bursting of land price bubbles has a history of bringing the Australian financial system to its knees at regular intervals, so the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority ought to be pressing for a federal charge on all land values if it is to be effective in tending to the health of the financial system.

In fact, APRA and the Reserve Bank of Australia need to get their heads together in order to demand of our politicians that the RBA administer an all-in flat-rate charge on land values. Such a charge should replace state stamp duties, payroll taxes and land taxes (the latter with their notorious thresholds, exemptions, aggregation provisions and multiple rates), and the revenue delivered, GST-like, back to the states. Maybe the charge ought also to replace the costly GST.

It is not the job of the RBA to hose down the economy by non-discriminating interest rates, but, as with APRA, it is its job to protect our financial system against the creation of property bubbles.

If the RBA tweaked a federal charge on Australia’s land values as assiduously as it has done with interest rates, both APRA and the RBA might finally begin to carry out their appointed duties, instead of seeking to put the blame elsewhere for the ritualistic lead-up to financial collapse.

– Bryan Kavanagh, Director, Land Values Research Group, Melbourne

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Wasn’t it marvelous therefore to see the page one headline in THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW this morning: “Banks forced to plan for a crisis”?

The story tells how APRA has asked the big four lenders to draw up plans setting out how they would break up and sell off their businesses in the event of a financial crisis.

Excellent!  But I doubt that APRA instigated this measure: they’re not that creative. I’ll bet it was at the direction of the Financial Stability Board, set up in Switzerland in April 2009 after the G-20 Summit.

Never mind.  Reform is reform, even when it’s forced upon you.

This may be a case of it  being to our advantage that  Australia is one of the last cabs  off  the rank in experiencing a collapse in its land market, because the Financial Stability Board prefers a model that has shareholders, rather than taxpayers, responsible for bailing out banks who lend too much – even if they are our  ‘big four’.

This is a step in the right direction in exposing the myth that ANY bank is ‘too big to fail’.

I like it!

RENTING TAX EXEMPTIONS?

 

WANT TO OPT OUT OF INCOME TAX AND THE GST?

Right about now Treasury and the RBA’s greatest concern should be whether the Australian property market is about to drop off a cliff.

What can they do in this circumstance? If they do nothing, many property owners will find themselves in negative equity. If the June quarter’s National Accounts show negative growth in September, we’ll be in technical recession.

Many Australians have a feeling, or dread, that something big’s afoot; they’ve virtually stopped shopping, because they’re busily paying down Australia’s record household debt.

So, it’s not at all fanciful to conclude that we’re almost certainly facing a recession, and that the relatively low unemployment rate will shortly start to spike.

I’ve already assessed elsewhere that we’d spent $2.8 trillion on real estate during the term of the current bubble to 2010, and that some $805 billion of that amount is actually within the bubble itself.

So, Treasury, the RBA and Australian government are going to have to tread very warily, if our ‘big four’ banks are to remain solvent.

Although I see greater public capture of natural resource rents, including land, is the only medium to long term response, I’ll readily confess to not having much of an idea about how we deal with the obvious short term economic shock that is ahead of us.

Enter Dr Gavin Putland, director of the Land Values Research Group, who has been busy working on this problem for some time.  Having assured himself that it works, he blogged his response earlier today.

Property owners should be given the right to opt out of the income and GST system says Putland.  His proposal for a “no losers” system does prevent home owners from plummeting into negative equity – except the “bailout” element is financed not by taxpayers, but from the saving in deadweight costs!

Hey! Julia, Wayne, Treasury, RBA, are you listening?  Something that works is surely something worth considering, especially if it obviates a US style crash in property values and has no losers?

Putland suggests the only possible opposition to the tax exemptions rent (TER) can come from opponents of choice – and he’s right.

DEATHLY PROSE, DEATHLY TAX SYSTEM

Should persons have aspirations regarding the achievement of confusion in the minds of the recipients of their correspondence, it is of importance to ensure the fabrication of such material takes the form of an abundance of nounal and gerund-laden verbiage contained within unnaturally prolix sentences.

For example, it is the essence of official correspondence that care should be taken in fashioning it in as indirect and passive language as possible, being replete with sentences containing a number of lengthy nouns conveying the appearance of the writer possessing a suitably high level of education appropriate to the transmission of such information as is contained therein, notwithstanding the resultant outcome having an appearance appertaining to carefully packaged garbage.

Unfortunately, much of academia also commits itself to this indirect technique, presumably in the misbegotten belief that it conveys a sense of superior knowledge and importance.

I note the Australian Taxation Office rarely sends letters bearing a name or signature anymore: and it’s virtually impossible to telephone anyone within the ATO. Why? Its best attempt to reform poor letter-writing is to ring you, rather than to write. However, any letters it has to send must apparently remain as meaningless and non-committal as possible.

I treasure two recent notes sent to me by the Tax Office. Both seem obliquely to acknowledge without apology my bank statements showing it had received months ago payments it had accused me (with attendant dire threats) of not having made.

Bureaucracy running amok stinks. For that matter, much of the public service could easily be reemployed elsewhere under the Henry Review’s far-reaching recommendations for a simpler and fairer tax system. The Henry panel’s proposals would act to reduce the need for much of the bureaucracy whilst offering enormous new scope for private employment.

However, like intelligible government letters, Ken Henry’s “Australia’s Future Tax System” seems to be off all agendas.

THE HOUSING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION [SIGH]

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) today issued a report “Land Slide Signals Further Home Building Weakness Ahead”.

It commences:

“Residential land sales fell for a sixth consecutive quarter in March 2011, signaling the prospect of weakening levels of residential construction through to at least the December quarter this year.

The HIA-RP Data Residential Land Report provided by the Housing Industry Association, the voice of Australia’s residential building industry, and RP Data, Australia’s leading property information and analytics provider (sic), found the volume of land sales fell to a record low in early 2011. Sales were down by 6 per cent over the March 2011 quarter and were 43 per cent lower when compared to the March 2010 quarter.”

The most important thing to come out of the whole report was that anyone would have to query RP data as “Australia’s leading … analytics provider”.

Karl Fitzgerald and I (representing Prosper Australia and the Land Values Research Group) had an appointment with the HIA’s Caroline Lawrey on 30 August 2007. We suggested there was bad news ahead for the Australian property market – housing construction in particular – and we’d be happy to provide, gratis, data and some suggested action the HIA might take to avert or, at least, minimise any housing collapse, at another meeting with the HIA’s then boss, Ron Silberberg.

Caroline received us well and agreed to get back to us. We didn’t doubt her good faith, so, when she didn’t get back, we assumed it was by direction from ‘up top’.

I spoke in a radio interview about a year later with the HIA’s Canberra policy officer, Chris Lamont. He seemed pleasant enough, too, but didn’t seem to be abreast of any impending housing collapse.

How could he be? The HIA have fastened themselves to RP Data, one of Australia’s more prominent property bubble deniers. ‘Leading analytics provider’? Bah!

Prosper Australia has also tried to put a case to the HIA’s chief economist, Harley Dale.

So, it was with a sense of resignation I sent the following e-mail to the HIA today about its report:-

This is news? But we’ve been telling Harley Dale this depression has been coming from a long way off – and proposing the only real solution to the HIA – the same remedy Ken Henry’s panel has suggested …. abolish many taxes and apply  a land tax to keep the lid on land prices to keep land affordable.

If we don’t do that, it’s only going to get very much worse and – what? – the HIA is going to continue documenting the descent into chaos without promoting the remedy? That’s strange!

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I mean, will the HIA actually represent its constituents, or simply provide a running account as a litany of builders continues to go broke as the bursting bubble worsens?

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”     – Adam Smith (1723-1790)

THE CARBON TAX

A PRICE ON CARBON EMISSIONS

Climate change obviously occurs, but I reckon it’s more related to sunspot activity than man-made CO2.  Were not sunspots and solar flares responsible for the global warming that occurred before the arrival of homo sapiens? That’s probably where making the “stop polluting” argument became unnecessarily sidetracked because, in my opinion, climate change is essentially about much more than man-made CO2.

Although GetUp! wouldn’t go with Prosper Australia’s incredibly popular “Don’t Buy Now” campaign, their 2 minute video on the carbon tax makes more sense than “The world’s about to end!” scare campaign with which the Australian government is faced concerning the carbon tax (and which I note the Transport Workers’ Union has taken up with gusto).

And if Julia Gillard’s government can get farmers to re-discover humus in order to sequestrate vast quantities of CO2 , instead of continuing to chemicalise their crops and land, that’d be good, too.

The real case that the world as we know it is about to end, however, is indeed about all other taxes, as I hope I’ve shown in these blogs.  It won’t result from fining miscreants for carbon pollution.

All taxes destroy and, hopefully, a carbon tax will help destroy pollution.

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ps. To give Julia Gillard her due, the logically powerful case she presented in the face of vehement opposition tonight on the ABC’s “Q & A” about the benefits of fines on pollution is the sort of strong leadership that has so far been missing from her prime ministership.

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