Tag Archives: Privatisation

Economic Myths #5 – Banking is Capitalist


By both mainstream economists and the general public the cycle of “boom and bust” is believed to be a tendency inherent in any capitalist economy. The fact that the latest of such cycles, beginning in 2008 (and arguably not having ended), originated in the banking sector and that large banks and bankers ratcheted up huge earnings and bonuses only to cause disaster has implicated banking as representative of the very worst aspects of capitalism – the epitome of uncontrollable greed that ends in catastrophe.

Unfortunately this popular view of the mainstream could not be further from the truth. In fact, with its intimate ties to the state and its special, legal privileges it is hard to imagine a less capitalistic industry than banking. Part of the deception – wilfully inflamed by politicians and their lackeys – is one that engulfs other industries subject to state meddling such as utilities markets. This is the belief that, simply because the participants in the industry in question are private individuals or entities that are not officially part of the state, the enterprise must be classified as part of the free market and saddled with all of the supposed flaws of that system. Very often, however, private companies and brands are simply the public facade of what is essentially a state owned operation or state controlled cartel. Read more

The prospects for private policing in the UK


David Davis

Tim Evans has kindly drawn my attention to this which I missed earlier:-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1225503/300-residents-hire-private-police-force-clean-lawless-streets.html

If one neighbourhood can do it, why not everywhere? We could soon make “The [State] Police” as redundant as the State Phone company, the State “Post Office”, and the State “hospitals”.

Moreover…

…history teaches us that it is very dangerous to allow “modern” “big” States, such as Russia, Prussia and the UK, to get involved in the minutiae and provision of policing services. Any sort of lefty mountebank could subvert their objectives.

Enemies of What State? « Little Alex in Wonderland


 

Enemies of What State?

Posted by Kevin Carson on 29 March 2009

Kevin Carson

On the economic fascism of  crony capitalism and irrational American common sense.

19 Mar 09 | C4SS

There are all too many people in American politics whose real concern, concealed behind all the “free market” rhetoric, is not so much “statism” per se as statism that benefits the wrong class of people. A good example: it was quite amusing to hear some Republicans, during yesterday’s Congressional hearings on the AIG bonuses, wringing their hands over the prospect of “interfering with the management of private business” and “altering the terms of contracts.” Last night Rachel Maddow ran clips of some of the very same people, last December, crowing about how they were forcing the UAW to renegotiate it’s contract and accept lower wages in return for bailout loans to the auto industry.

Another example: I don’t advocate Social Credit or greenbackism, but I don’t understand the reasoning of those who object to either as an increase in statism over the present system.

By way of background, Social Credit is a proposal to remedy corporate capitalism’s chronic tendency toward overinvestment and overproduction by periodically depositing a sum of interest-free new money, equivalent in aggregate to the demand shortfall, in the citizenry’s bank accounts. Greenbackism is a proposal that countercyclical deficit spending, rather than being financed by interest-bearing debt in the form of government bonds, should simply take the form of directly spending money into existence by the Treasury.

It seems to me the sticking point, if there is one, should be at the idea of government as regulator of the money supply by creating fiat money, or of deficit spending to meet demand shortfalls, in the first place. But these things are overwhelmingly accepted in principle by the mainstream public. So the sticking point about Social Credit and greenbackism can only be the sacred principle that the fiat money must be specifically lent into existence at interest, and that deficit spending must be financed by government bonds.

The problem is not the function itself, but only carrying it out in a way that doesn’t enable a class of coupon-clippers to skim the cream off the top.

It also seems to me, on the other hand, that if these basic functions are accepted in principle, it makes it more statist–not less–to compound the injury by doing it through private accomplices, and empowering them to charge interest for the function, rather than simply doing so directly.

It’s just another instance of a broader phenomenon, what the Libertarian Alliance’s Sean Gabb calls “economic fascism.” Economic fascism is his term for the phony regime of “privatization” advocated by such organizations as the Adam Smith Institute. It doesn’t get government out of the business of performing particular functions. It just delegates the function to nominally “private” corporations that perform the function with public money, with government protection from free market competition, and with a guaranteed profit for performing the function (on the regulated utility’s “cost-plus” model).

Under this vulgar libertarian model of “free market reform,” the only thing that matters is the comparative percentages of functions which are carried out by nominally “private” and nominally “public” organizations–not the substance of things. But it seems to me that if a corporation receives its revenue from the government, is protected from competition by the government, and is guaranteed a profit by the government, it IS the government. The only significance of the entity’s profit is to increase the overall cost of performing the function, and thus increase the total injury to the taxpayer.

And while we’re at it, let’s be honest about something. Given the existence of a corporate economy on the present model, countercyclical government spending is absolutely essential to prevent its collapse. Those who advocate a return to the Reaganism and Thatcherism of the ’80s, or the cowboy capitalism of the ’90s, absent high government spending, are either delusional or disingenuous. Reagan was the biggest Keynesian of them all.

There are only two alternatives: to eliminate the existing–statist– structural causes of overinvestment and underconsumption, or to continue adding new layers of statism to counter the chronic crisis tendencies. Either more and more statism, or forward to anarchy.

The American corporate economy has been statist to its core since its beginnings in the late 19th century. There wouldn’t even be a national market at all, or national corporations serving it, had it not been for the land grant railroads and other subsidies to long-distance shipping that made possible artificially large firms and market areas. There wouldn’t be stable oligopoly markets had it not been for the cartelizing effect of patents, or the stabilizing effects of the Clayton and FTC Acts’ restrictions on price warfare.

To repeat, the system was statist from its beginnings. There are all too many on the Right who like to refer to a mythical “free market” system that prevailed before 1932, and to pretend that the “statism” only began when government started intervening on behalf of workers and consumers. But in fact, all the “progressive” interventions of government under the New Deal were secondary, aimed at ameliorating the side-effects of the prior interventions that created corporate capitalism in the first place. Had it not been for the secondary, ameliorative interventions, corporate capitalism as we know it would have collapsed in the 1930s.

Returning to my earlier point: if we are to have statism at all, and we are reduced to quibbling between Democrats and Republicans over what kind of statism it is to be, I make no secret of the fact that I prefer the kind of statism that weighs less heavily on my own neck.

If phony “free market” Republicans accept NLRB certification of unions in principle, and only want to quibble over the Employee Free Choice Act because it makes it easier to certify unions without harassment, intimidation and punitive firing of organizers–well, why would I, a worker, prefer a system of certification that suits the bosses’ interest?

If we’re going to talk about a genuine free market labor regime, then let’s eliminate the Wagner Act–and with it Taft-Hartley’s prohibitions on sympathy and boycott strikes, and its mandatory arbitration and cooling off periods. Let’s eliminate the Railroad Labor Relation Act’s provisions that prevent transport workers turning local and regional disputes into general strikes. In short, let’s eliminate all the legal prohbitions on the tactics that unions were using to win before Wagner was ever passed.

But if we’re going to have government certification of unions, let’s have a form of certification that fulfills its stated purpose–determining the intention of workers–as accurately and automatically as possible.

Likewise, if we’re going to have a welfare state, let’s eliminate the costly and intrusive welfare bureaucracies and spend the same amount of money on a guaranteed income. If we’re going to have a regulatory state, let’s eliminate all the agencies and replace their functions with pigovian taxation of negative externalities.

My goal is the abolition of the state. I would welcome all these things tomorrow, if I thought they were genuine steps toward the abolition of the state altogether the day after tomorrow. They certainly wouldn’t be net increases in statism.

C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy and Organization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, both of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.

Enemies of What State? « Little Alex in Wonderland

Sean Gabb – Latest Director’s Bulletin, November 2008


Sean Gabb

http://www.libertarian.co.uk/about/bulletin-2008-11-08.htm

Director’s Bulletin
9th November 2008

Introduction
Libertarian Alliance Conference
Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize 2008 – £1,000 Won!
Helen Evans
Norman Barry RIP
Sean Gabb in The Times
Other Media Appearances
Barack Obama
Books Received
Attendance at UKIP Function
Speaking Engagements
Negative Scanner Wanted

Introduction

I have done rather less during the past few months than usual for the Libertarian Alliance. My time has been taken up instead with finishing one novel and working on another, and with playing nursery rhymes to my daughter in many different keys.

But the Libertarian Alliance as a whole has remained very active. We have just held our most successful conference ever, and we continue to put our case in the media and wherever else we are invited.

Libertarian Alliance Conference

Our conference of two weekends ago, at the National Liberal Club in London, was our most successful ever. It is unfair to single out any particular speakers at the expense of the others. However, our three most prominent speakers were Aubrey de Gray, David Friedman and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. These all gave excellent speeches.

When advertising our conferences, I have always urged people to book early to ensure a place. Usually, we get between 80 and 90 people, and there is always room to let people come along on the day – even if dinners are less easy to arrange at short notice. This year, however, we reached the Monday before the beginning of the conference, and had 112 people on our list. The Liberal Club’s fire regulations limit for our usual room was 120. Over the next few days, another 20 people tried to book with us. When I removed the PayPal buttons from the brochure page on our website, people began to telephone us and tried begging for places. In the event, we had 120 people at the conference, and 113 booked in for dinner.

One of these, I am pleased to say, was Teresa Gorman, who was one of our most consistent friends in the Parliamentary Conservative Party during the 1980s and 1990s. Though now in semi-retirement, Teresa looks good and remains on good form.

It is not certain we shall be so crowded next year. Even so, I do recommend early booking.

As ever, we made a full video record of the speeches. Because I am busy doing other things, because it takes time to process video, and because my desktop computer is unaccountably very slow, it took me a fortnight to get the video files uploaded to the Internet. But they are now available. You can see our video record at

http://www.libertarian.co.uk/conferences/conf08record.htm

These files have been radically downsampled for Google. However, if you want better quality copies on DVD, you can use the PayPal buttons at the bottom of the record page. This year, we are happy to take payment in pounds, in dollars and in euros.

Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize 2008 – £1,000 Won!

The subject for this year’s essay as “Can a Libertarian Society be Described as ‘Tesco minus the State’?” I am disappointed that no one came forward to give a robust defence of corporations on libertarian grounds. I did promise impartial judging. However, I received a number of very fine entries, all of which will be published by the Libertarian Alliance. After much deliberation, I decided that the best entry was from Keith Preston in America. His was a very impressive entry, and we shall be delighted to publish this as a Libertarian Alliance pamphlet. For the moment, it can be seen on our blog:

<http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/chris-r-tame-memorial-prize-winning-essay/>

Next year, I am hoping for several thousand pounds of sponsorship, so that we can offer a first prize of £1000, but also several dozen second and third prizes for lesser amounts.

Helen Evans

We were all naturally concerned when Helen Evans, our Events Coordinator, fell dangerously ill just before the conference. However, she is now out of danger and well on the road to recovery. Our thoughts are with her, with her husband Tim and with their daughter Petica.

Norman Barry RIP

For those who have not heard already, I must announce the death, on the 21st October 2008, of Norman Barry. I first met him in 1986, and he was one of my external examiners some years afterward. A most distinguished scholar, he was victim in his final years to multiple sclerosis.

According to the announcement on the University of Buckingham website,

“It is with great sadness that the University has learned of the death this morning of Professor Norman Barry. As one of the foremost exponents of classical liberal theory in the United Kingdom, Norman established the foundation around which the study of politics developed at the University. His work as a scholar of Friedrich von Hayek, as a social and political theorist and as a writer in business ethics contributed greatly to the academic reputation of the University after his arrival in 1982. He received the ‘Liberty in Theory’ Lifetime Award from the Libertarian Alliance (LA) in 2005. Our condolences go to his colleagues, friends and family.

“A graduate of the University of Exeter, Professor Barry lectured in Politics at Queen’s University of Belfast and at Birmingham Polytechnic (now the University of Central England) before being appointed as a Reader in Politics at the University of Buckingham in 1982. His books include Hayek’s Social and Economic Philosophy (1979), An Introduction to Modern Political Theory (1981), The Morality of Business Enterprise (1991), Classical Liberalism in an Age of Post-Communism (1996) and Business Ethics (1998). He was awarded a Chair in Social and Political Theory at Buckingham in 1984. He was also a visiting scholar at the Centre for Social Philosophy and Policy, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and at the Liberty Fund, Indianapolis. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the Institute of Economic Affairs, London; the Institute for the Study of Civil Society, London; and the David Hume Institute, Edinburgh.”

The full announcement is here:
http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/news/newsarchive2008/norman-barry.html

You can also see an interview with Professor Barry from 1991. This is in our Botsford Archive at:
http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=5778658966132637817

Sean Gabb in The Times

I think I did send this out. If not, I should have done. On Friday the 24th October 2008, The Times carried an article by me in favour of disestablishing the Church of England. Here is the article:
<http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/public_sector/article5003179.ece>

Here is a longer article I wrote a few years back, in which I argue against disestablishment:
http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc082.htm

I have changed my mind about the Church and about several other issues on which I was once a strong conservative.

Other Media Appearances

I have been much in demand by the BBC these past few months. I regret, however, that I have been far too disorganised to record any of these. My most recent was the night before the American election on Radio 5, where I denounced most politicians as motivated by money, kinky sex, or the sheer joy of messing up the lives of others. I scandalised some Labour politicians and politics lecturer, who had come on in the belief that he would be worshiping at the shrine of St Barack the Redeemer. His embittered annoyance, and his attempt to turn the listeners against me with his revelation that the Libertarian Alliance believes in legalising all drugs and even incest between consenting adults, made for an entertaining broadcast. Sadly, I failed to record any of this. I will try to do better in future.

Barack Obama

I did think of betting money on the election of Mr McCain as American President. However, the more I looked at him on the television, the more I realised he was one of those figures, half comic, half sinister, who are thrown up at the end of every ancien regime. I guessed that millions of Americans would vote for him through clenched teeth, bearing in mind it was him or a black man. But I decided in the end he was not worth the risk of losing £20.

So Mr Obama it is. He will contrive, if very differently, to be even worse for America than Mr Bush has been. On the other hand, he will probably be less inclined than Mr McCain would have been to blow the world up. And if he is a closet Moslem, that is certainly less alarming than the acknowledged Christianity of Mrs Palin.

Oh – and, since he is half-Kenyan and was born before 1963, he will be the first American President in many years whose father was a British citizen. I am sure this fact will not be overlooked by Lyndon Larouche and his many followers in America. Perhaps the Empire is striking back!

My comments on his election can be read here:
http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc176.htm

Those who want to understand the true nature of the evil he means to America, should read my book Cultural Revolution, Culture War. You can get copies here:
<http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cultural-Revolution-Culture-War-Conservatives/dp/095410322X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226250079&sr=8-2 >

I am running out of copies, but want to sell all of these before I set to work on another edition. If you buy now, you may be able to give copies to your loved ones for Christmas/Hannukah/Diwali/Kwanzaa. You are too late for Eid.

Books Received

At the Libertarian Alliance conference, David Friedman gave me a copy of his novel Harald. This is a fantasy set in world loosely based on the early middle ages, and is a very good read. I wish he had brought more copies so he could have sold and signed them. I think it is important for libertarians to write about more than how to privatise the Bulgarian motorways. David has always been a diverse writer, and his novel is a significant move into fiction.

You can buy your copies of this at:
http://www.amazon.com/Harald-David-D-Friedman/dp/1416520562

I have also been sent a copy of The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain by Douglas Carswell and Dan Hannan. This is a remarkable attempt by two Conservative politicians to give their party some actual policies. Of their two main prescriptions, one is excellent, the other on the verge of terrifying. The first is to devolve to every county and city in England all the powers of the Scottish Assembly. This would at once undo the massive centralisation of power England has suffered during the past hundred years. The second is to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and to subject the judiciary to the restored legislative sovereignty of Parliament. Giving power with no hope of appeal to 625 of the most ignorant and corrupt people in the United Kingdom is not the way to make the country a better place.

I will review this book at some length in the next few weeks. you can buy copies here:
<http://www.amazon.co.uk/Books/s?ie=UTF8&rh=n%3A266239%2Cp_27%3ADan%20Hannan&field-author=Dan%20Hannan&page=1>

Attendance at UKIP Function

On the 17th October 2008, I was invited to a closed meeting of the UK Independence Party on HMS Belfast. This was addressed very ably by Nigel Farage, who spoke about his party’s strategy for doing well at the next elections to the European Parliament. Though I do not feel able to say more about what was a closed meeting, I was very impressed by all I saw and heard. Regardless of the strained relations for much of this year between UKIP and the Libertarian Alliance, it has been my settled intention to continue voting for UKIP. I am now glad to report that relations are no longer strained.

Speaking Engagements

I have accepted an engagement to speak to the Shelley Society at Eton College. This will be around the middle of the present month. I may record the event, but will only make my own speech available on the Internet.

Negative Scanner Wanted

I have several thousand negatives from the Chris R. Tame collection of photographs. I want to have these scanned in for upload to the Internet. Is there anyone out there able and willing to lend me a good negative scanner?


Sean Gabb
Director, The Libertarian Alliance
sean@libertarian.co.uk
Tel: 07956 472 199

http://www.libertarian.co.uk
http://www.seangabb.co.uk
http://www.hampdenpress.co.uk
http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com

FREE download of my book – Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back
Wikipedia Entry

Libertarian Alliance home

What shall we do about the BBC? (again…)


Jeff Randall of the Daily Telegraph has a suggestion here.

David Davis

The position of the Libertarian Alliance remains the sam as ever. Either the BBC should (a) forgo the licence-tax, take paid advertising like everybody else (even the Guardian), clear out its institutionalised leftism, and grow up, or (b) be closed down, its better staff to go and work in other broadcasters or else just blog, and its archives and copyrights auctioned off.

David Farrer reports on first day of Libertarian Alliance 2007 Conference


My wife and I have now returned from our annual visit to the Libertarian
Alliance Conference. We travelled down from Edinburgh to London on
what’s probably going to be our last round trip on GNER before that
company transfers the franchise to operate the line to National Express.
I do believe that privatisation has been of great benefit to passengers
over the last few years.

Libertarians hold varying views on the immigration question but all of
us agree that getting rid of the welfare state is an essential part of
any solution. On the day before the conference we happened to visit
Brick Lane in East London. It’s an excellent example of how some
immigrants to Britain have created a vibrant small-business culture.

I don’t suppose that the production of the musical Chicago that we saw
on Friday evening was subsidised by the taxpayer. That’s how things
should be. And all that Jazz.

On Saturday morning I headed off early to the National Liberal Club and
met Tim and Helen Evans who were preparing for the Conference.

First off was Leon Louw who had just arrived from South Africa after
successfully manoeuvring his way through the Home Office bureaucracy.

Leon is an excellent speaker whom I’ve heard before on a couple of
occasions. His speech was entitled “The Disaster of Water Socialism: Why
the Sea should be Privatised”.

Leon emphasised that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to technical
questions such as how the sea can be fenced off but more on the
intellectual question of private ownership itself. Let the market decide
on the technology and we can all start to benefit from the vast
resources of the oceans was the message we got.

Next on was Professor Bruce L. Benson speaking on “Private Law
Enforcement: Libertarian Ideas on the Future of Justice”.

Bruce’s book  explains that:

  Benson argues that public dissatisfaction with legal institutions is as
prevalent as public disgust with many public institutions. That’s hardly
surprising. They are funded through taxes, run by bureaucracies, are
famously inefficient, lack the capacity to calculate economically, and
ignore the demands of consumers.

And that’s what we heard about. The inefficiencies of the police and
indeed the whole British justice system are to be found elsewhere. And
the solution says Benson is privatisation. I agree and would prefer to
be a customer of Lothian and Borders Police PLC instead of funding them
through my ever-increasing Council Tax.

After I’d had lunch with LA member David Ellams, there was a talk by Dr.
Syed Kamall MEP. Yes, there is indeed “one of us” in Brussels! It
shouldn’t be the case but it probably helps the libertarian case to have
someone from an ethnic background make the case for free trade. That’s
what Syed does very well. Free trade especially helps the poor.

The final session on Saturday was on the Surveillance Society.
LA members David Carr and Brian Micklethwait spoke, with David being
more pessimistic than Brian. I guess that I tend towards David’s
position on this – perhaps the result of being a libertarian in a
non-libertarian world for so long. But Brian may be right. Technology
enables us to watch them and they don’t like it. Good.

In the evening we attended the annual LA dinner in the excellent NLC
room that overlooks the river. The main speaker was Alex Singleton of
the Globalisation Institute. We heard more of Syed’s message: freedom is
essential for the world’s poor.
Neil Lock won the Chris R Tame memorial essay on “Does Britain Need a
Libertarian Party?” Dr Robert Lefever’s PROMIS Unit of Primary Care
funded the £1,000 prize.

Unfortunately my winter chest infection struck with a vengeance on
Sunday morning and I was unable to attend the second day of the
Conference but I’m sure that it was as successful as day one.

Libertarian beliefs wiki


InstaPatrick libertarian wiki screenshotYou probably know of Wikipedia, the incredibly useful online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. But you may not be aware of how that same wiki technology – allowing dynamic information to be stored and shared in a truly dynamic format – is being used in personal projects.

Patrick Crozier, a libertarian who has been active in the Libertarian Alliance for many years, has set up InstaPatrick, a wiki where he catalogues his thoughts and opinions on many issues. You can see a listing of all the pages in his wiki here.

Pages like “Why British rail privatisation failed” or “Against taxation” allow Patrick not only a resource to which he can refer others in the course of online conversation, but also can be found by people using search engines to find information on these issues. (It also makes for addictive reading for someone like me, who has come to similar views relatively recently. It is much handier than pestering longtime libertarians like Antoine Clarke and Brian Micklethwait about every question that crosses my mind.)

I have been thinking about how the LA could use wikis to help spread its wisdom and gain influence. For starters, each page about a particular issue could also link to all related LA papers; this would be incredibly useful to journalists and students, among others. If you have your own ideas, feel free to share them in the comments.