Archive for the ‘Constitution’ Category

Walking down the road to serfdom

December 13, 2011 1 comment

Over 60 years ago Hayek wrote “The Road to Serfdom“, which attempted to glimpse into the future of the western world. He predicted that if a country gave over significant control of it’s economy to central planners, then eventually the country would start to drift away from democracy. In the decades that followed, the UK and the rest of the west steadily gave more economic power to government but remained democratic, and so some concluded that Hayek’s predictions of doom were wrong.

Perhaps they were just premature.

Hayek argued that democracy can be slow and messy, but that economic decisions often need to be made quickly and decisively. If the government controls the economy, then the people have a choice between slow and messy economic decisions, or making the government less democratic so that leaders could “get things done”. As we look at the economic problems in Europe and America today, the lessons of Hayek seem very appropriate.

From American towns to the European countries of Greece and Italy, elected leaders are being replaced by technocrats. With growing debt problems, the idea that some Europeans may start to look for a “strong leader” to make “tough decisions” without having to deal with those “meddling and bumbling politicians” doesn’t sound too outlandish. Even in Australia, we have seen one commentator hint at the idea of suspending democracy so that leaders can take strong action.

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Competition v Monopoly

March 2, 2010 Comments off

There is always a tension between the desire to have a single uniform approach, and the benefits from competition. Unfortunately for me (and other defenders of competition) the benefits from uniformity are sometimes more immediately obvious. This is especially true when it comes to the topic of jurisdictional competition, compared with the lure of a quick fix through political centralisation.

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Grassroots political power

February 18, 2010 3 comments

In a free society, the power of government should come from the people. That power should flow up from individuals to their community and then up to higher levels of government.

In reality, power is being increasingly centralised in Canberra, and that power and responsibility then trickles down to the state governments and then the local councils. At the bottom, community groups are effectively powerless.

In the “community-up” approach, each person has a real link to political power and meaningful access to their representatives. In the “Canberra-down” approach, ordinary people are isolated from the political system and are reduced to one vote out of 14 million every three years to influence the heart of power. Not only does the “Canberra-down” approach make people disconnected to democracy and disillusioned about politics, but it also leads to less diversity, less political innovation, less incentive to be efficient and effective and less choice.

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