Blog Archives

CALL TO ACTION: How to stand aside when it’s time to be counted

Bert Kelly, The Australian Financial Review, November 11, 1977, p. 3.

I have never made any secret of the fact that the quality that I envy most in my political colleagues is their fast footwork.

I laboriously clamber on to high points of principle and stand there like Horatio on the bridge or the boy on the burning deck, but my colleagues, being cleverer and fleet of foot, quickly retreat to some other point of political wisdom, leaving your poor Modest Member standing alone, polishing his halo and not quite certain who persuaded him to stand for something about which he is not certain. Read the rest of this entry

EDITORIAL: Government is a Creep

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

Last issue, with our cover story on “Hong Kong’s Coming Slavery,” we saw how each government intervention leads to justifications for further interventions. One example Herbert Spencer gave was how it is impossible to have any principled objection to forcefeeding the bodies of children, if you think it is right to forcefeed their minds through compulsory attendance laws, compulsory curriculum laws, compulsory financing laws and compulsory teacher training laws. There is no place for government schooling in a capitalist society, same as there is no place for a monopoly supplier of food, especially one that forces itself on the population.

In Australia we can see an example of this government creep playing out in the mining sector, with those who have accepted that all resources are government property and are merely licensed to private prospectors and capitalists. I cannot find anyone in the Australian mining industry who has not conceded this starting principle, this foundational platform, to the government. I am not so cruel as to say the mining industry deserves what’s coming to them, but how long do they want to wait before they put forward a positive explanation of the justice and beneficence of mining, rather than continue compromising with the extremists who believe that the resources are government property? Read the rest of this entry

Hong Kong’s Coming Slavery

Excerpt from Herbert Spencer’s 1884 essay, “The Coming Slavery,” The Man Versus the State (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982), pp. 44-51, 53-57.

The blank form of an inquiry daily made is — “We have already done this; why should we not do that?” And the regard for precedent suggested by it, is ever pushing on regulative legislation.

Having had brought within their sphere of operation more and more numerous businesses, the Acts restricting hours of employment and dictating the treatment of workers are now to be made applicable to shops.

From inspecting lodging-houses to limit the numbers of occupants and enforce sanitary conditions, we have passed to inspecting all houses below a certain rent in which there are members of more than one family, and are now passing to a kindred inspection of all small houses.

The buying and working of telegraphs by the State is made a reason for urging that the State should buy and work the railways.

Supplying children with food for their minds by public agency is being followed in some cases by supplying food for their bodies; and after the practice has been made gradually more general, we may anticipate that the supply, now proposed to be made gratis in the one case, will eventually be proposed to be made gratis in the other: the argument that good bodies as well as good minds are needful to make good citizens, being logically urged as a reason for the extension. Read the rest of this entry