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May 10, 2014

Jonathan Green blaming libertarians for Abbott screwups

Cartoon; By Bill Leak 
The ABC’s election guru, Antony Green has had a real problem with minor parties and libertarians since the 2013 federal election.  While tending to be a bit confused as to what libertarian actually means, he is still a man who knows what he hates, and hates libertarians with a venom.
There is no truth however, to the rumour that the ABC had to employ a new staffer to dry Antony’s eyes after the election of Liberal Democrat, David Leyonhjelm in New South Wales.
But the ABC doesn't stop with the irrationality of Antony, They have a right little nest of Greens, all lefties, and all batshit crazy about the right.  The best known of the others is Tony who is best known for Q&A, a sort of circle jerk of Jonathan Holmes groupies in which a rightie is matched up against three or four lefties, Tony himself, and the studio audience. He doubles up on Lateline.
Then we have Jonathan, from ABC Radio National with a background of Fairfax, Crikey, public radio,  and editor of The Drum, which basically says it all.  He shares the values of the others, to the point where he makes the excuse for Abbott of, 'libertarians made him do it.'
In ruing the influence of libertarians/classical liberals (if only) he begins by lauding his ideas of the Howard government’s virtues of:
(1)          Being big spending centrists;
(2)          Flexibility of principle, and;
(3)          Putting political expedience ahead of rationality;
Here are some examples:

… If John Howard was anything, he was a conservative pragmatist; or perhaps even a pragmatic conservative. He was nothing if not flexible. A man with a gift for acting in line with conservative ideology, but also populism: matching the pursuit of small(ish) government and market theory with the interests and aspirations of a politically expedient notion of the ordinary Australian. 
Sort of a big-spending, albeit Tory, centralist. He was certainly not a politician who put ideology before political strategy, which increasingly seems to be a hallmark of the Abbott administration. … 
… Remember, of course, that it was Howard who went to the 2007 election promising a carbon trading scheme ... a piece of pragmatic politics that may well have conflicted with personal instinct and belief. 
And that sort of decision, that capacity to bend ideology to accommodate political reality, is what seems to be eluding the Abbott Government. Which might be tricky for them: it was the gift that kept Howard in power for a decade. …
He then wades into an attack on classical liberals and libertarian thought, which he blames for the current budget machinations:
… Howard, of course, had the great benefit of governing before the recent fashion for bright young Windsor-knotted think-tankers who style themselves "classical liberals", and plead a no-prisoners libertarianism that insists that government should work with an almost anorexic enthusiasm for the reduction of, well, government, as the sworn enemy of individual effort, and the devil take the hindmost. To the concerned bystander, the tendency is to create confusion with more time-worn and gentler expressions of the Liberal brand. 
And that's Tony Abbott's problem, to be governing in a time of fervour and impatience, a time when many in conservative politics are sniffing long-unresolved opportunity while taking in their inherited world with the steely glint of the one-eyed ideologue. … 
… Abbott won his one-vote victory over Malcolm Turnbull on a "climate change is crap" ticket, rallying MPs ideologically disposed to accept blogging over research, and who read the political responses to climate change as a crushing of individual rights under the weight of the eco-socialist collective. …
It is a little difficult to see where Green is coming from, although it is reasonably simple to see where he is going.  In the old irrational style of the left, he is using the term ‘ libertarian’ as an acceptable alternative to the adjectival use of the f*** word in polite society, although it is difficult to understand why he feels the need to do that on an ABC forum like The Drum.
On the climate change issue, libertarians in the main accept that the climate is changing; it has been doing that for millions of years.  Most accept that there is a possibility that some of it may be caused by human emissions.   What they don’t accept though, is the contention of Green and his fellow authoritarian shills that government has the competency to change the climate, especially for the better, and are really skeptical of the suggestion that it can be achieved by a new tax.
While libertarians are comfortable with expenditure cuts, there seem to be little rationality in the ones that are being mooted by Abbott and his crew.  If libertarian thought were involved, all departments that duplicate state ones would be abolished, or be reduced to a mere coordination role.
The Abbott proposals nibble around the edges of excessive expenditure, while instituting new, or increased taxes in a futile attempt to claw something back in what appears to be a Rudd/ Gillard class warfare style budget based on the hoary old ‘soak the rich’ concept.  The proposed wealth tax is the second bite of the cherry for Abbott, as he already intends to levy a surcharge on the most productive companies in the land in order to fund his misbegotten parental leave scheme.
To suggest that by calling an increase a temporary levy or a surcharge makes it something other than a tax increase is nothing more than an exercise in semantics.  As for the temporary part, it is worth remembering the words of Milton Friedman; “There is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program.”
Worse still; the wealth tax will only claw back a couple of billion of a forty + billion deficit, which expends his political capital in an exercise in futility.  His dad really screwed up in failing to tell to young Tony about pissing into the wind.
There is so much wrong with the Abbott proposals from a libertarian or classical liberal perspective that even Jonathan’s rather jaundiced view on libertarianism must be indicating that Tony is a dedicated statist and they are both on the same side.
If not, then the question has to be asked, just what part of, “We would never vote for an increase in taxes, and would never vote for a reduction in liberty,” doesn’t he understand.


  1. Isn't the quoted bit from Johnathan Green, not Antony? Antony just hates small parties mucking up his pristine electoral systems.