EDITORIAL: Riddled with Government

by Benjamin Marks, Capitalism.HK and Economics.org.au editor

How can government services be more efficient than private services when government service provision is separated from the payment for them? The greatest Australian politician and journalist, Bert Kelly, when he was 72 wrote:

When I die, I hope people will remember me by the proverb: “You can always tell a man who is dining out on an expense account by the enthusiasm with which he summons the waiter.”

(Think of the passion of advocates of government spending.)

Free-market advocates could not go wrong adding more such knockout punches, sharp wit, debate reframers, pickup lines, fresh bait and new strategies to their repertoire. That’s what this issue of Capitalism.HK aims to provide, especially in the last five articles.

What the articles in this issue ignore, however, is how to get and keep the attention of those you are trying your moves out on. Pure intellectual or even political interest is insufficient! Here are some techniques for buttonholing, pressing the flesh, twisting the ear, stepping on the foot, grabbing the collar, horse blindering and then tagging and releasing.

Firstly, make out as if your opponent agrees with whatever you say, which, to begin with, is code for: praise your opponent.

Secondly, mention something your opponent doesn’t know about Gina Rinehart, like that in 1975 she listed her occupation on her passport as “Secessionist.” Everyone is always interested in Gina Rinehart!

Thirdly, ensuring you make it look like you expect your opponent to agree with you, say: “Everyone agrees that Hong Kong is so rich because it has so little government restrictions on the market. And yet people seem to not even believe in the existence of Hong Kong, because if you tell anyone in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia or anywhere else in the ‘free world’ that you think they should be advocating for government to be lower than 20% of GDP, they will dismiss you as absurdly utopian. But obviously how can anything be impractical if it actually exists in the genuine actual real world!? And they used to say the same about tariffs and slavery, but now in many areas of the ‘free world’ there are no tariffs at all!” (Regular readers will know, of course, that there’s still widespread slavery.)

Fourthly, now try out one of the conundrums in the second half of this issue.

Of course, none of this will work until you’ve done what Bert Kelly did:

Well, the way to persuade the electorate to change an attitude is to question what we do. This usually involves a good deal of crying in the wilderness — at least at the start. If you are right and have a bit of luck and can keep going, you may win out in the end. But you usually have to start in the wilderness and this is not much fun for the first 20 years or so, as many people have discovered.

But as important as crying in the wilderness is, you have to work darn hard to earn it. You have to provoke people into issuing restraining orders, suing you for defamation, adding you to blacklists, denying you promotions, going out of their way to ignore your achievements, passing off your insights and research as their own, badmouthing you (if you’re lucky) to the good and the great, and even unfriending you on Facebook.

This issue of Capitalism.HK has all the information you need to get banished to the wilderness. Now all you need is a sharp knife. And some onions.

About Editor

Editor of Capitalism.HK

Posted on April 26, 2013, in Marks and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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