Sunday, 25 September 2005

Proportional representation

Even though the German federal elections occured several days ago, the situation there still intrigues me.

The CDU/CSU may have to form a "grand coalition" with the SPD, if Merkel cannot create a coalition with the smaller parties (such as the Greens, the Free Democrats or the Left party).

Some commentators in the UK have stated that PR is the cause of these problems. I disagree.

Most countries with PR have generally stable coalitions. Spain, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, the Netherlands and Sweden are all examples of such a thing. In many cases, it is the political culture of a nation which determines the instability of PR (Italy is a prime example of this). Advocates of first-past-the-post are negligent in mentioning that not all elections under this system produce stable governments. What about the 1974 general elections in the UK? When John Major was PM, he had to rely on the support of the Ulster Unionists, simply so the Conservatives could pass legislation and maintain a Commons' majority.

Others have stated that Germany's poor economic performance over the past decade can be attributed to PR. This isn't really the case. In the 1960's and 1970's, West Germany (as it was then) was economically more successful than the United Kingdom, whilst possessing a PR based voting system. It's therefore wrong to state that PR in itself causes economic stagnation. Australia currently has a healthy economy, whilst possessing a PR based system. Germany's current economic problems can be attributed to an inflexible labour market and an extensive welfare system. Such things can easily exist if a government is not a coalition.

IMO, I don't see how libertarians can favour first-past-the-post. This system allows governments great power and therefore the ability to impose force against the individual. A coalition government would rely on consensual politics, in order for a coalition to survive. As libertarians, we must oppose force and seek to reduce its effects in all human interaction.

Friday, 16 September 2005

Why government doesn't work

This evening I was watching a report on Channel 4 news regarding increased spending in the NHS.

Harry Browne always states on his radio show that government doesn't work. I had never fully understood why this is, until now.

The report stated that NHS hospitals in England were in danger of closing down services, notwithstanding the increased funding that has been placed into the service by New Labour. Why should this be the case? If extra funding has been granted to the NHS, shouldn't things be improving?

To me, this demonstrates that government programmes seldom turn out as intended.

Ideally the NHS should be completely privatised, since health care would be more efficient in the private sector. State-owned health care amounts to governmental force.
Blair "defends" anti-terror plans

The PM has defended his government's plans to introduce new anti-terror legislation.

He said, "And the fact that someone who comes into our country, and maybe seeks refuge here, the fact that we say if, when you are here, you want to stay here, play by the rules, play fair, don't start inciting people to go and kill other innocent people in Britain.

"I think when people say this is an abrogation of our traditional civil liberties, I think it is possible to exaggerate that. I mean, as far as I know people have always accepted that with rights come responsibilities."

I would agree that with rights come duties, nonetheless I don't concur with the rationale behind this legislation.

New Labour is a horribly illiberal party. I feel that the terrorists win if further civil liberties are curtailed.

I don't believe at all in "inalienable" rights. Still, it should be the duty of government to uphold citizens' rights. All citizens should be free to live as they see fit, without initiating force or fraud against the person or property.

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

Well done England!

OK, this isn't a libertarian or politics related topic, nonetheless it's good that England have regained the Ashes.

Apart from the Lords' test, I thought England outplayed Australia for the majority of the time. Pietersen's knock was also stunning.

Can England become the "dominant force" of international Test cricket? I don't know, but the next couple of years (including the Ashes in Australia next year) should be interesting.