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  • rmacculloch

The Herald Talks Nonsense, Confusing Libertarianism with Support for War and Somalian-style violence

In a shot across the bows of former Labour Minister and ACT Party President, Richard Prebble, the NZ Herald Business Editor "at large" has accused him of biasing an article he wrote in favor of the libertarian view & against centralization, without highlighting the violence that comes with a "truly libertarian society". Here are the Heralds' words:

"Prebble expressed concerns about the centralised model, arguing that “when the government takes everything, people stop working. The result is famine. 30 million Chinese starved to death in the Great Leap Forward.” Some might say that’s hyperbole, but Prebble is right in the sense that Mao Tse-Tung’s Great Leap Forward probably represents the most extreme example of the failings of a centralised command and control model. But Prebble failed to balance his argument by acknowledging the equally nightmarish scenario that eventuates if we follow deregulation to its ultimate extreme. I’d describe that as the “state-less warlord” model. Somalia in the 1990s is just one grim example. If you want to live in a truly libertarian society, without any bureaucratic bother, then good luck to you".

What. A. Load. Of. Garbage. Here is a definition of "libertarian" coming from the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy: ".. libertarians typically endorse something like a free-market economy: an economic order based on private property & voluntary market relationships among agents". Advocating for libertarianism / free markets has nothing to do with a "warlord" model. Even an extreme libertarian who stands only for upholding liberty & nothing else would recoil in horror at the coercion & violence of a War Lord. War is, by definition, force. Freedom House, the organization which ranks countries on these kinds of dimensions, labels Somalia a "Not Free Country" with a score of 6 out of 60 on "civil liberties". What on earth is the Herald on about?

Free markets, by the way, are not the same as unregulated markets, something the Herald Editors may like to appreciate. Free markets only work with property rights - and property rights need courts & a State to establish & govern them. Even unfettered competitive markets are based on a set of laws & institutions that secure property rights, ensure enforcement of contracts & regulate behavior. Prebble, to my knowledge, and many of his former Labour & ACT colleagues, are pro-free markets, not pro "the law of the jungle".

So my message to the Herald Editors is: stop trying to pretend you're educating the Kiwi public about how to "Rebuild NZ Better" when your articles don't serve the public interest. It does the Herald no favors to pontificate about philosophy, economics & politics when its Editors seem not to know the meaning of the words they are using.

Why not get a panel of true Kiwi "experts", including a bunch of whom are overseas-based, rather than patronizing the public with a series of shallow articles & silly "conversations", pretending to explain how to "better rebuild" NZ, when you have no idea how to do so. Better to say nothing than misinform.



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