Thursday 2 October 2014

Australia's Lone Libertarian

By now, many of you will have seen the speech made by Senator David Leyonhjelm yesterday where he assaults free-spending, finger-wagging politicians with the truth (even Simon Chapman can only respond by way of childish ad hom, irrelevant misdirection and invoking Godwin's Law) and places on the Australian version of Hansard a thank you to the 18% of Australians who smoke.

If not, you can watch it here.

I've written about this guy before, as he is clever enough to see through the Emperor's new clothes of plain packaging too.
For every problem the government tries to solve, it often creates at least one more with no guarantee of fixing the initial problem. That appears to be the case with the former government’s laws mandating the plain packaging of tobacco. 
There have already been comments, though, that he's banjaxed his career for having the temerity to utter what is blindingly obvious, and exposing NGO and governmental lies into the bargain.

However, everything he says comes from a principled stance of libertarian thinking summed up in this video about unnecessary restrictions on motorcycles ... because they're dangerous and so must be discouraged by the state, natch.
Official attitude to road safety for bikes insist that Big Brother knows best. Bikes are not for everyone but how you choose to get around is up to you, it's a personal decision. If you have an accident on a bike, you are more likely to be injured than if you're driving a car. Riders know that and accept the risk. That means it's not the business of government, it's a matter of choice. 
We support your right to live your life without government interference, as long as you respect the same right for others. 
Quite. It's common sense that only those whose well-paid careers consist of subverting common sense and installing themselves as arbiters of other people's choices can deny.

It matters not what subject the Senator comments on, this principle runs through everything he says, from illiberal anti-terror laws to attacks on free speech and the right to assisted suicide.

He also understands his country's farcical stance on e-cigs very well.
The ban-by-default of e-cigarettes containing nicotine suits zealous public health advocates just fine. They argue that something should be banned until it is clearly demonstrated to be harmless, since we are all incapable of deciding for ourselves. Such reasoning would have banned every human innovation before it could become popular, from the wheel to the internet. We would truly be in the dark ages. 
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that their primary goal is to achieve a puritanical victory against nicotine rather than to save lives. It's not really about the smokers, it's about them. Like Marie Antoinette, they say to the smokers who could benefit from e-cigarettes: "Let them go cold turkey". 
But the weirdness doesn't stop there. While it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes in Australia, it is perfectly legal to import up to three months' supply of e-cigarettes, with or without nicotine. So our Government intentionally lets foreign online businesses do the exact thing that they ban Australian businesses from doing. It's reminiscent of the line: "No sex please, we're British." 
And it is illegal, at least in some Australian States, to sell e-cigarettes to deliver non-nicotine flavours, because – horror of horrors - someone might see someone put something to their mouth. It's like a ban on dancing because it can lead to fornication.
Such common sense is ensuring that Australia's lone liberal attracts plenty of column inches and, by extension, a lot of support in a country so riddled with dictatorial and oppressive laws as Australia.

By contrast, to defend their cosy status quo his state-adoring detractors (as Chapman proves) can fire little else but insults and snooty, ignorant arguments from authority of established political thinking (you know, the political thinking which has seen politicians recognised as a despised class worldwide).

There is even the accusation that he shouldn't have been elected in the first place because his placing on the ballot paper was an invitation for donkey voting, but how delicious is it that someone who rightly preaches about the dangers of authoritarianism could have been given power by a fault inherent in the authoritarian policy of compulsory voting in Australia.

And it is real power too, since Leyonhjelm holds a part of the balance of power in the stalemated Aussie Senate. In a 76 seat assembly, no party or aligned coalition can make the 38 votes for a majority which means they all have to ask him for his support.

Long may the Senator make the headlines, as he did worldwide yesterday, and get people in Australia talking about good old-fashioned common sense. Lord knows the basket case country needs it.


Norbert Zillatron said...

Common sense is rare among politicians everywhere. Not just Down Under.

John M said...

One thing you will never see is Simon Chapman putting himself up for election. He knows the bubble of his own self importance would take a battering when the handful of votes are counted.

RobC(UK) said...

Good job I didn't mention the nicotine in vegetables.

Actually, all of the above are from studies I have seen over the past few years and nicotine is the only thing I have not seen included in the scare stories.

Dinners ready, natural yoghurt and organic broccoli, yum.

Twenty Rothmans said...

Although I'm Australian, there's not an ounce of convict blood in me. Please note that I never said that I wasn't a criminal.

I have a great deal of time for Senator Leyonhjelm. I do not like homosexual marriage, but it would be boring if we agreed on absolutely everything. Now that marriage has been contaminated elsewhere, and if it gets him some more votes (which I doubt), I'll wear it.

Australians are sheep. The wild people I knew at University don't resent that you cannot buy off-licence booze after 2200 in NSW (and these are child-free boozehounds). They meekly accept that it costs £27 to buy 50g of tobacco. They don't resile against having to wear a helmet to ride a bloody bicycle in a cul-de-sac.

They have their pigs with radar guns on suburban arterial streets in perfect weather conditions attacking drivers who forgot that the limit of 60 km/h has been reduced to 50 km/h, making them ride their brakes down the hill and labour up the other side. I might have flashed my lights at drivers coming the other way as I was unfamiliar with the switchgear of my borrowed car, an offence also, I hear

The catalogue of offences against liberty in God's own Earth is too lengthy for me to detail on a school night. The Australians' subservience to the State, and their arrogant belief that the rest of the world will 'catch up' ensures that the Senator's influence will be, sadly, very marginal.

From our side as Britons (I'm one of those too), it's imperative that we nip this in the bud and prevent such a sad slide into equanimity ever happening here. It's a pity that the Battle of Milton Keynes has not been replayed.

As for maggots like Chapman, I guess all you can do is hope that he lives for a very long time. Quite possibly much longer than he wants to, as it seems to be his prescription for the rest of us.

I visited Australia recently, and was asked many times what I preferred there to here. My answer was that you could still get paper towel to dry your hands in the lavatories in pubs.

What the.... said...

DP, it’s worth taking a closer look at Crapman’s offering. It was a very swift response to Leyonhjelm because it’s touching on the extortion racket that’s been built up in Australia over the last few decades.

From the Godber Blueprint we know that the only interest of antismoking activists is short, attention-grabbing slogans, maintaining a high media profile, and avoiding scrutiny/questions. Activists are encouraged to
seek out news items that could be used to the benefit of antismoking. The
framework that is always used is “US vs THEM”. It’s the extremist framework
typically used by moralizing zealots. But Chapman is particularly masterful at the deception because he even committed the “strategy” to paper in his “The Lung Goodbye” way back in the early-1980s:

“Such a list could be added to considerably, but most entries would be characterized by being somehow cast in a mythological good versus evil battle in an arena observed by mass numbers of people. The good (health/clean air/children) versus evil (cancer/uncaring, callous industry) dimension is the ineluctable bottom line in the whole issue and a rich reservoir for spawning a great deal of useful social drama, metaphor, and symbolic politics that is the stuff of ‘news value’ and which is almost always to the detriment of the industry.” p.11 (see Godber Blueprint)

Having cast themselves in the role of the “mythological good”, the zealots
are always right. The tobacco industry represents evil liars and killers. Anyone who dares disagree with the zealots is always wrong and part of some “evil” tobacco industry “conspiracy”. It’s all for manipulative, “theatrical” effect – although there are some in the antismoking movement that believe they are “god-like” - and has been quite successfully used for the last three decades on an essentially superficial/gullible political class, media, and public. The zealots and their financial partners (government, Pharma) must have regular belly laughs at how all too easy the brainwashing has been, particularly in Australia.

For the antismoking nut case, the critical point is to recast… re-frame….
any issue into the “US vs THEM” framework: To antismokers any issue must always be seen by the public as the “US” (the “righteous” antismokers) battling “THEM” (the “evil” tobacco industry).

What the.... said...

So let’s consider Crapman’s article. He’s written many such articles over
the years; they follow a typical structure. From the outset – the very title of
the article – indicates that it’s not going to address any of Leyonhjelm’s
claims but it’s all going to be about “evil” Big Tobacco, i.e., re-framing of
the issue. As the title states, Leyonhjelm is just “Big Tobacco’s New Confused Errand Boy”. It is solely intended as smear. Being a questioner of antismoking, Leyonhjelm is immediately cast with the “THEM” – “evil” Big Tobacco, i.e., liars and killers. According to antismokers, the “evil” masterminds are always Big Tobacco. Leyonhjelm is just a silly “errand boy”, a puppet of the “evil” masterminds. And the use of the word “boy” is also used for derogatory effect.

The intent of the title is to have people dismiss anything that Leyonhjelm
has to say on the treatment of smokers because, hey, he’s just a puppet of
“evil” Big Tobacco….. move on, nothing to see here. As it turns out, it was
later noted that Leyonhjelm has received donations from tobacco companies. Well, this really set the antismokers into self-righteous indignation. He’s a “paid shill” of “evil” Big Tobacco. It’s even made it onto an Australian national news program (ABC) this morning – pay no attention to what Leyonhjelm says because he’s effectively a “paid shill”. It’s important to note that it would make no difference if Leyonhjelm had received donations from tobacco companies or not. If he had never received donations from tobacco companies, the title of Crapman’s article would be the same. Leyonhjelm would simply be referred to as a volunteer (unpaid) confused errand boy for Big Tobacco. It doesn’t matter what the circumstance is. It will be spun to depict the questioner of antismoking as a manipulated dupe of Big Tobacco.

Crapman then has another shot at tobacco companies. He notes that pretty
well all of the tobacco consumed in Australia comes from three transnational tobacco companies who take their profits off shore. This is a situation that has been created in Australia by State-sponsored antismoking of the last few decades. Tobacco companies used to grow and manufacture in Australia until they were effectively chased out of the country by well funded and State-supported antismoking. Again, it doesn’t matter if the tobacco companies were operating in Australia or abroad. Either will be spun by antismoking as “terrible”.

The remainder of Crapman’s article is just antismoking “padding”.

truckerlyn said...

Hope you didn't forget the jam with your peanut butter sandwich! Yum yum, I still love them.

What the.... said...

The Anti-Tobacco Racket: History Revisited

Anti-tobacco/smoking has had a long, sordid, 400+ year history. Pretty well all of the antismoking crusades have been prohibitionist, usually banning the sale/use of tobacco. There was one notable exception – King James I (‘tis he who commissioned the King James Bible translation) in the early-1600s. Jimmy did a few things. He penned the antismoking piece, “A Counterblaste To Tobacco”, a work loaded with inflammatory drivel written in ye olde English. It was important to clearly indicate moral outrage because this provides the pretext for taking action on the tobacco “issue”. But Jimmy didn’t prohibit tobacco/smoking. Armed with the appearance of moral high ground, he banned the growing of tobacco in England and arranged for the importation of tobacco from Virginia, America. Banning the growing of tobacco in England reduced the risk of locally produced contraband. So, King Jim manufactured a monopoly on tobacco (entering through imports) in England. And didn’t Jimmy have a field day with the monopoly. He set a ration on the sale of tobacco per person and super-inflated the price of tobacco. He was robbing his tobacco-users blind. What a good “christian” king. Unfortunately the racket had a limited life. The mass-scale robbery invited contraband. Tired of losing revenue to contraband, Jim eventually relented and lowered his price.

Fast-forward some 400 years to the island nation of Australia. Since the early-1900s, growing tobacco in Australia has required a government permit. The only ones issued these permits were tobacco companies.

Australia bought into the antismoking hysteria in the 1980s. The leaders of the current antismoking crusade are prohibitionists. Their goal, as it was in early-1900s America, is to destroy the tobacco industry. The prohibitionists have brought to the table the “moral outrage”. Having partnered with the prohibitionists, the moral outrage permits the government to act on the tobacco “issue”. The beginnings were small. The goal was to put the heat on the “evil” tobacco industry – banning of advertising, constantly referred to as the “merchants of death”, etc. By 2014, the tobacco companies have been chased out of Australia. The tobacco companies no longer contract tobacco growing and their last, small manufacturing plant is about to close. All tobacco products are now imported into Australia. The growing of tobacco in Australia, based on early-1900s law, is effectively banned; tobacco-growing permits are not issued to individuals. If someone wants [legal] tobacco, they have to buy the officially-imported, government-tax paid stuff. The Australian government finds itself in a manufactured position not unlike King James. It has a monopoly on [imported] tobacco in Australia
and has complete control over its price through excise tax. Unlike Jimmy, the government hasn’t even had to get its hands dirty sourcing imports. It uses tobacco companies as offshore growers/manufacturers that then import tobacco products into Australia. And, just like Jimbo, isn’t the Australian government having a field day with the monopoly. It just keeps jacking up the taxes on tobacco. The price for premium brands is already at $AUD200 per carton and set to increase. It’s, again, mass-scale robbery.

truckerlyn said...

Yes, indeed. What an amazing insight he had into our future!

What the.... said...

It’s important to note the collusion between government and zealot prohibitionists. The prohibition sought this time is not the sale of tobacco but to effectively ban smoking in all the places that people typically smoke. Taxation is also a “punitive” tool. Important is that the same step is interpreted differently by prohibitionists and the government. Increased
taxation is viewed by the zealots as a coercive tool to antismoking conformity, whereas the government views it as a means to increased revenue (through robbery). To maintain the appearance of a moral “high ground” the government needs the moral outrage of the zealots. It doesn’t matter if the moralizing zealots are constantly lying in their claims. All that matters is the moral outrage and the appearance of moral high ground. To keep the zealots on-side, it has to appease the antismoking whims of the zealots, e.g., smoking bans, plain packaging. In doing so, it legitimizes what are baseless claims by the zealots. The government can then claim that extortionate taxes, which it’s really interested in, are necessary to “help” people to quit. The fact of the matter is that those who smoke are being fleeced by baseless, ever-increasing taxes. The government knows that most won’t quit smoking and it counts on increased revenue from tax hikes in its budget forecasts. It’s robbery based on the moral fraud of antismoking rhetoric. It’s a racket. Worse is that some of the zealot prohibitionists want kick-backs in the form of funding to further “educate” the public, advance their careers, and remain in comfortable employment.

This results in the utterly perverse situation that those who smoke are further and further marginalized through baseless antismoking laws, smoking deemed “unfit” for normal society while they’re also being robbed through ever-increasing extortionate taxes. Smokers are forced to pay for their own “denormalization” and further fleecing. And this is occurring not in the autocracy of 1600s England but in a one-time relatively free society like Australia in the 2000s where the government is supposedly a servant of the people (which includes those who smoke). It’s the government in its partnering with zealot prohibitionists that is conducting itself like a criminal entity.

It is also worth noting that the wholesale price of tobacco plus excise tax plus retail mark-up also has a “goods & services” tax (GST) of 10% slapped on top. The Federal/State arrangement is that GST is apportioned amongst the States. So the States also have a vested financial interest in appeasing antismoking lobbying and, therefore, hikes in tobacco excise by the
federal government.

It goes a considerable way in explaining why Australia is one of the world leaders in antismoking insanity. Australia has comprehensive indoor bans, including hospitality venues. Shortly, it will have a comprehensive al-fresco ban in hospitality venues, all enacted by individual States. One State goes the antismoking route and all the other States follow suit shortly thereafter. There are no States that buck the trend.

This corruption of government can’t even be placed at the feet of just politicians. It’s taken many years to build this racket. The corruption is squarely in government health and finance bureaucracies; it’s with unelected bureaucrats. This is why it makes no difference as to which
political party gets into power. Politicians are advised by the same bureaucrats and end up toeing the antismoking line. So there is no relief from the extortion from the democratic/voting process.

Bring on the contraband. It’s one of the few solutions to crooked government egged on by zealot nut cases.

Rachel Nason said...

I'm glad I came across this blog and so happy to see that you agree that the year 6 children should not of been put in a position of power without at least some sort of training or supervision. This is just one of many reasons I began the petition, see the page for this campaign and read my statements to the headteacher.

Rachel Nason said...


Bandit 1 said...

I trust you gave the infuriated school secretary an almighty bollocking, DP.