Saturday, June 24, 2006

LabourHome - economic illiteracy and a strange type of liberalism?

Well, Alex has finally got it working. Labour Home is launched, to compete with Conservative Home and Liberal Review. It looks ok, and it's something I thought was lacking awhileback (even mentioned it's lack in a thread at B4L). He's also got a team of writers lined up. Shame that one of them seems to have both a poor grasp of economics and a very weird definition of liberalism. Ben Furber:
My point is that Liberalism means that liberals trust the state and trust that economists (in other words people with more knowledge than me), know how to spend money better than the average Joe.
No Ben, no, that's not what liberalism means. Liberalism means that you don't trust the state, you don't trust the centre. Liberalism is about making your own decisions, and empowering others to make their own decisions as well. Campbell-Bannerman:
"I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life."
JS Mill argued for a small state, for individual freedoms, for personal responsibility and for workers co-operatives. That's what liberalism is about. Not big state nannying; that's corporatist centralism, the very antithesis of a liberal agenda.

Of course, he's talking about the LibDem tax cutting plans; what he, and of course, most others, seem to miss, is that a 2% cut in income tax nationally would be combined with local income tax, which would be avaraged at about 3%. Looks like an increase in income tax to me. Given it would replace Council Tax, that sounds like a fair plan.

Nice site idea, here's hoping that it can concentrate on what Labour (in all it's various shades) is for rather than simply launching ill-informed partisan attacks.


Anonymous said...

Um, I can't remember who said it (Galbraith?), but I think the best definition goes like this;

'As much state as necesary, as little state as possible.'

I'd say that beveridge etc. sort of go against the grain in this respect. 

Posted by el tom

Link edited by Mat to make it work, can recommend Tom's blog so the link needs to work well

Anonymous said...

If liberalism is about making your own decisions, wouldn't an an increase in income tax be illiberal? The more people are taxed, the less they can decide on their own. 

Posted by little me

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he means the american corruption of the term Liberal as a code word for big S Socialism, Socialism having become discredited they need to steal another political term as a cover for it. 

Posted by chris

Anonymous said...

Tom, can't recall seing that quote before, but then, I'm awful at quotations generally, but overall, I think Beveridge was a good thing as it was intended as an enabling safety net that was intentionally designed to benefit those who actually contributed more.

"little me", yes, you're right in a way, but taxation over all is to be resisted except where needed, but where it is needed, it should be equitable and based on ability to pay, ergo income tax is more liberal, to me, than sales taxes, and especially Council Tax, which is a very blunt instrument.

Chris, I suspect you're right, the US use (by both sides) of the term "liberal" is completely against any sensible definition... 

Posted by MatGB

Anonymous said...

I followed that link and arrived at that page. He's got no idea what he's talking about - I guess that's Labour at its finest...but I followed one of the comments, and arrived at:

That's what I call one hell of a right-wing Blairite... 

Posted by john p

Anonymous said...

Soliloquy: I believe this same scenario is necessary within the context of the NHS - politicians in general should have no right to start recommending ideas, be they left or right-wing ones - rather, the government must be freely willing to allow those on the ground the opportunity to implement their own resourcefulness as solutions. 

Um, yeah... That's, um, the extreme liberal position, right? Politicians do nothing, they just enable others to do stuff, decentralise, stop setting targets, etc.

What is this guy doing writing for Labour? 

Posted by MatGB