Young People’s Party to stand in Corby

There are so many parties at this time of year that one finds it difficult to choose, and I’m not talking about Christmas. There seems to be too many libertarian political parties to even count them properly. John Watson gave it a go recently:

Actually here is the full list….

pro liberty (to be registered)
Scottish Libertarians (to be registered)
UKIP (Claims to be a libertarian party in their new constitution, and apparently their new/existing/official position)
Scottish Progressives (Libertarian style message)
Libertarian Party
Independent Libertarian Network
Young Peoples Party (Advised above)
Libertarian wing of the Conservatives.

As a part of the \w+Home collection of websites you will rightly expect opinions here about political parties, and libertarian ones in particular. UKIP already paid a visit at the meetup, so to get started with this round of reviews I’ll look at the Young Peoples Party.

Is it fair to start a review of libertarian parties with a collection of geo-libertarians? As a movement perhaps the Georgist axis have a problem: their core idea which they talk about unceasingly is Land Value Tax which many libertarians feel is not for them. Since this is their (the geolibs) most talked about idea it’s inevitable that your opinion on this concept will dominate the evaluation a geo-libertarian party.

Henry George

So why do the Georgists make such controversial libertarians? Well, according to Georgism because I happen to have popped into existence on a piece of land owned by my family but which might otherwise have been owned by other people, those other people get to use aggression to collect a tax from me, or from my family. The justification for this tax is simply that it is unfortunate for the others that lady luck did not hand them my land. That disappointment, on it’s own, is held to trump the non-aggression principle. Further, geo-libs hold that the market value of the land determines value of the tax. My preferred alternative is voluntary taxation in which I pay, for what I receive, a price I consent to pay. If you believe that the right to property is a prerequisite for the functioning of man as a rational animal – that it is necessary for man, as such, to exist – and therefore that the design of social institutions should keep the mind free, then the Land Value Tax works precisely backwards in every respect. The land value tax is aggressive where it could be volitional, centrally imposed where it’s purpose could be enacted by the market, and substitutes the judgement of others for my own when it comes to the disposition of my hard earned income. Of course, I am really saying that I would reject a Land Value Tax having made up my made about a voluntary tax first, and your mileage may vary.

Nevertheless, the party deserves a place in the round up: they are openly in favour of legalising drugs, brothels, fox hunting and laying off on smokers. Also, they would take the sound initial step of privatising NHS provision under a voucher system and would abolish a host of taxes. Also, if those are the things you care about then you might observe that the Land Value Tax and the Citizen’s Basic Income which pairs it might be insanely popular, especially for the young. There is an argument that those personal freedoms, the lower crime and fewer social problems that would result, and the repeal of income taxes might be worth a populist compromise.

The YPP’s energy and environmental policies sound like a proposal to simply manage the system differently. There is nothing in them that applies the non-aggression principle or offers a fundamentally different moral, rather than technical, approach. As such, those policies might save money and reduce tax but will do nothing to demonstrate how life might work in a properly libertarian or even geo-libertarian way. This puts them on neutral terms with the other parties who also see themselves as better managers. This is not so much of a problem as a missed opportunity, though some of the managerial ideas do sound interesting from a technical perspective.

The major reason for including YPPUK though is that they are standing a candidate in Corby – Dr Rohen Kapur whose name will be familiar from the LPUK. The fact that Dr Kapur is standing in Corby, in as little as 30 days, means the YPP is of urgent interest. Their performance good or bad affects all of us that share the label “libertarian”.

The performance of the ticket will come from two places: party brand and policies, and the personal impact of Dr Kapur.The party is tiny and not that well known even amongst libertarians, though it’s treasurer Mark Wadsworth is well known as a committed activist for Land Value Tax. As such, the party’s performance is unlikely to impress and the bookies odds of 500:1 do not seem unreasonable, however,the point is surely not to win but to make an impact for libertarian ideas.

Turning then to Dr Kapur. Libertarians will want to judge whether he can make a positive impact for the libertarian team. I was therefore pleased when Dr Kapur emailed asking if he might come along to the Rose and Crown to promote his candidacy. I had heard just one report as to his personal conduct that was not at all kind, so it seemed essential that we judge for ourselves. I encouraged Rohen to stand up speak and he conducted a short question and answer session that you can see below. Unfortunately, I think it is obvious that while Rohen is a friendly and approachable person, the answers he gave were under rehearsed and lacked detail.

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So, what is my final position on the Young People’s Party? I think that the geo-libertarian positioning will not rule them out for every libertarian voter, although I have given my reasons for disliking that particular policy. We may in fact be surprised if Land value Tax is sold well to mainstream voters in Corby. But, in a perfect world I would be able to vote for an objectivist libertarian-friendly party which used a montage of Britain’s tall commercial buildings as a logo. Regrettably, no such party exists and for anything to change in my lifetime one has to be realistic. Might a geo-libertarian world be more achievable and good enough for me? Part of the reason that it is not is actually cultural, not political. I do not believe that a culture in which Rand or her successors failed to dominate civil discourse would be a good place to stop the progress of mankind. For one thing I would want to benefit from the other 60% of economic progress that would achievable (politically) in those circumstances, but I would want to turn on the TV and see something which would inspire me rather than depress me. You don’t get depth of change from making popular compromises you get it by changing what is popular.

That they are not fielding the strongest candidate is insignificant next to a failure to include a moral argument that really changes the agenda. Whether you prefer minarchy or anarcho-capitalism, for victory to actually happen the biggest challenge is to make the case that an authoritarian system is immoral. You can do that from the perspective of an objectivist or from that of a natural rights libertarian, you could even exploit the utilitarian value of moral arguments as a cynical consequentialist, but it is necessary to make them and Georgist arguments do not fit the bill.

  13 comments for “Young People’s Party to stand in Corby

  1. Oct 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Whether you prefer minarchy or anarcho-capitalism, for victory to actually happen the biggest challenge is to make the case that an authoritarian system is immoral.

    Yes, it is, but if you think the world is ever going to change from its current form to some kind of Randian utopia, you are mistaken. A Land Value Tax is a much better and fairer form of taxation than anything we currently have and your notion of voluntary taxation is, frankly, fanciful.

    Similarly, we are not going to get electoral support to dismantle our current welfare arrangements without offering some kind of replacement and a Citizens Basic Income is an excellent concept.

    I understand why such proposals are anathema to right libertarian intellectual purists but, let’s be clear, a libertarian Nirvana is NOT on the horizon. The above policies represent valuable progress towards a more free society and are actually realisable.

    With regard to Dr Kapur, I remember some of the contributions by Henry North to the old LPUK members forum which were clearly indicative of mental health issues.

    I hope he has fully recovered and wish him well.

    • Oct 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm

      It is possible I have a snapshot of that forum on a harddisk somewhere, but only the code. I wonder if anyone has the database part? We could recover the whole forum, I bet it would be interesting.

      • Oct 18, 2012 at 9:40 am

        I suspect it would only be interesting to those who enjoy dressing in cassocks and beating their own backs with a flail………….

  2. Lucian
    Oct 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Ken, when you dismiss the non-aggression principle on the ground that it is not ‘practical’ then you have already lost the argument for libertarianism.

    I agree there is no such thing as a ‘voluntary tax’, but it is surely possible to imagine a society in which the state monopolised fewer services and instead many more services were paid for by voluntary fees & charitable donations. The switch of any particular service from state-monopoly-paid-for-by-tax to competitive-providers-seeking-voluntary-fees could be supported by libertarians on both principled and pragmatic grounds.

    In contrast, a Basic Income is quite inconsistent with libertarian principles as the money used to provide the income would be taken by force.

    Tax is not fair and there is no way to make it fair, so libertarians should concentrate on reducing the ‘need’ for taxation ie on reducing the size and scope of the state. This can’t be done in one big jump so steps such as service-by-service demonopolisation, Scottish independence, devolution, and increased local control will enable people to realise that they don’t need a faraway central government to solve their problems.

    But without the non-aggression principle then there is no moral compass to show the way. A pragmatic approach is needed but each step taken must be consistent with principle too.

  3. Oct 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Lucian

    If you are serious about advancing libertarianism, in a practical sense, you have to postulate how we can change society from where we are now. It is no good saying that “each step must be consistent with principle” because then we would take no steps at all.

    And you must understand the electorate will never take the libertarian leap of faith we would all advocate.

    I agree with you that all taxation is immoral because it is coerced from the taxpayer but that is not to say that all types of tax (or benefit systems) are equally immoral. It seems to me that LVT and CBI are about the best of these given that the (much smaller) state will need some resources and that, in the UK in the 21st century, we are sufficiently wealthy to be able to ensure that everybody can afford the basic necessities for life.

    Of course you are free to advocate a policy which suggests that the poor and disabled should starve, but I don’t think it will be a a vote winner.

    And, by the way, an independent Scotland would have a quasi-Stalinist government……..

    • Richard Carey
      Oct 17, 2012 at 1:35 am

      ‘ It is no good saying that “each step must be consistent with principle” because then we would take no steps at all.’

      I don’t see why at all. There’s a long term goal, and each step should be in that direction, and if they are, they are consistent with principle.

      My problem with LVT is that I don’t think the economics behind it make any sense, being based on something Ricardo got wrong. It seems just as unfair as any other tax. Therefore, I think it far wiser as libertarians to advocate tax cuts to existing taxes and the abolition of particular existing taxes, rather than advocating new taxes.

      • Oct 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

        There’s a long term goal, and each step should be in that direction, and if they are, they are consistent with principle.

        Agreed.

        The problem is that when specific steps are proposed you can be accused along the lines of “when you dismiss the non-aggression principle on the ground that it is not ‘practical’ then you have already lost the argument for libertarianism.”.

  4. Lucian
    Oct 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Ken, I don’t believe a society based on the non-aggression principle would be one in which ‘the poor and disabled would starve.’ The people of the UK are incredibly generous and I can’t imagine anyone allowing a neighbour to ‘starve.’ The elderly and disabled would get charity, and poor young people would be given work & training.

    Less charity would be needed, because a non-aggressive society wouldn’t have hidden taxes driving up the price of everything. And voluntary peaceful transactions wouldn’t be banned; so even if disabled or poor workers had lower productivity, they could still find employment (unlike now) and have an income.

    An independent Scotland may well be socialist to begin with, but at least it wouldn’t be be spending tax money taken by force from England & Wales. (Or if you think it is the other way around, England & Wales wouldn’t be spending tax money taken by force from Scots.) So in my view it would be a step in the right direction.

    Another good step would be the abolition of ‘corporate welfare’. Using tax money for grants & subsidies to favoured corporations is basically redistribution to the rich and it is far less palatable than redistribution to the poor. Stopping this cronyism would reduce the size of government while also ensuring that the private sector focused its efforts on goods & services that people actually want (i.e. are willing to pay for). Producers of unsubsidised products that didn’t get purchased could either seek charitable support, or redirect their efforts toward producing sellable products.

    • Oct 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

      I don’t believe a society based on the non-aggression principle would be one in which ‘the poor and disabled would starve.

      I agree with you entirely!!!

      But it is not me that needs convincing……..

  5. Oct 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    This old article is very relevant here: http://libertarianhome.co.uk/2012/01/nudge-as-a-transitory-measure/

    You may not like this idea, but I belive it is possible to design a scheme which would work along these lines, which would get you to a place where “tax” could be voluntary. Even if nudging people into local groups is not a valid approach that does not make it impossible.

  6. Oct 18, 2012 at 9:43 am

    We really do just keep saying the same things again and again don’t we?

    From my comment on that thread

    “Of course, I see CBI as a stepping stone towards a market system and at the moment we are seeing a stepping stone toward CBI being put in place with the proposed Universal Credit.

    Libertarians should support it.”

  7. Lucian
    Oct 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    In my view CBI is a step in the wrong direction, because it would expand the number of people who get direct payments from the state and lump together payments that should be separated.

    I think we should be trying to reduce that number, for example by means-testing and by allowing opt-outs. We also need to push for more transparency in government revenues & costs, and more separation of taxes for different functions (hypothecated tax).

    Basically, we need to attack the fiction that welfare payments are simply market services provided by government. This fiction allows people to feel entitled to the payments rather than understanding the true situation which is that they are accepting redistribution paid for by others’ forced tax payments.

    We should be supporting the concept that each service (healthcare, education, libraries, unemployment, pensions, etc) should stand on its own, using the revenue collected from its own tax (and fees) to pay for its functions. Those who support these functions might support this because this would also ‘protect’ each function’s funds from being diverted to other functions.

    If we achieved separation, we could then push for opt-outs on a function-by-function basis. This would immediately create a libertarian system for those who wanted one, while allowing the statists to remain collectivists.

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