Saturday, 1 December 2007

Libertarianism & pragmatism (7)

To round off the series, I will look briefly at six issues (that being the format so far) that David Bergland didn't cover and/or which are UK specific.

Gender pay gap
Pragmatic: It is not a "gender" pay gap, it's a "mothers-vs-everyone else" pay gap, I fixed that here, a solution which Sam supported far more eloquently than I ever could over here.

Family breakdown
Pragmatic: If you offer parents up to £10,000-extra p.a. in benefits if they pretend to live apart; and if you pay unemployed single women an extra £116 p.w. if they have two babies, but you offer married/cohabiting women only £24 p.w. benefits (not to mention the loss of her net wages), is it any surprise that over 40% of children are born 'out of wedlock'? Well, no, it's not.

Global cooling
Pragmatic: I agree that we should be husbanding our fossil fuels, which we will desperately need if and when global cooling kicks in. I would seriously consider increasing taxes on fossil fuels (demand is quite price inelastic) and dishing this out to all UK residents as a part of the 'Citizen's Income/Citizen's Pension' system. Those who use less than average will gain, those who use more will lose, but the overall pressure will be that people use less (and spend a bit more on insulation, warm clothes etc); our oil, gas and coal will last that much longer and it will hopefully help our balance of payments a bit.

Of course all this Kyoto nonsense, "binding legal targets" and trading of "carbon credits" is a load of crap and will no longer be necessary. This idea went down a storm over at LabourHome.

European Union & United Kingdom
Pragmatic: Both of these are excuses for yet more layers of regulation; corrupt and unaccountable politicans and lobbyists; and shifting decision making as far as possible from local councils, which AFAIAC are the basic unit of government. My views summed up here.

Pragmatic: They won't prevent a single crime (especially as our government does not have the bottle to deport foreign crim's); they will be hugely expensive; the government doesn't care whether they "work" or not - they just want the crumbs that fall off the table; and the potential fraud and error that might be perpetrated were criminals to get their hands on the database does not bear thinking about. So that's a no-no to ID-cards.

...and just to draw a full circle and get back to Gregg Beaman's original article that sparked off this series...

Smoking ban & fox-hunting ban
Pragmatic: For some reason, Neil Harding did a post laying into Longrider. Longrider, Cleanthes and I chose the smoking ban as a largely non-political example of illiberal Statism, and came up with the idea that each town or village should have an open auction of a restricted number of smoking licences for local pubs, so that we end up with a mix of smoking and non-smoking pubs. This particularly appealed to me as a Land-Value-Taxer; the licence would be a form of voluntary and self-financing tax, with no damage to the economy (the tax would always be less than the extra profits generated by having the smoking licence) and a mild positive impact in terms of freedom-of-choice.

Pragmatic: Fox hunting is vaguely silly and rather barbaric. So what? So is eating meat, if you think about it. Seeing as this country has not been overrun by foxes, either farmers are killing more (making it a bit of a Hobson's Choice from the foxes' point of view) or the hunters weren't killing that many anyway. This has caused genuine job losses and reduced the gaiety of the nation. Plus what do the hunt-saboteurs do on a Sunday afternoon? Again, as a Land-Value-Taxer, I'd have no problem with saying that hunts should pay a tax of £x00 per fox they kill, just to cover farmers for damage to hedges etc.
Well, I hope that you have all enjoyed the series, next week I will revert to the usual format of high sarcasm, low wit and turning statistics on their head.


The Remittance Man said...

Re foxhunting, landowners have the right to not permit hunts to cross their land. Ergo those that did let the hunt go by must have assessed the cost v benefits (less foxes, gaiety of national life) to be in their favour.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RM, that was just a bit of fun!Read the bit in the book where Tom Sawyer charges people to whitewash the fence.

Killing foxes is just part of the dull necessary routine for real-life farmers, but if other people are prepared to pay for the privilege of doing so, then why shouldn't the State collect part of that value? Like fishing licences, it's a compeltely harmless and voluntary tax.

Scott Freeman said...

Killing foxes is fun and charitable. But better from the bonnet of a Land Rover with a rifle than the back of a horse ;)