It's not enough to disapprove
Monday, 03 August 2009 14:03
Everyone disapproves of things that others do. But if we prohibit all the things we disapprove of, nobody will be free.
Smoking, drinking, gambling, eating and certain recreational activities are good examples. While they might be entitled to give advice about the risks, regulators are increasingly taking personal choices away from individuals based on disapproval of the choices they might make.
In the case of smoking, there has been a profound loss of liberty. Smokers were once limited to designated smoking areas. Then these were prohibited. Then came bans on smoking in public outdoor areas, in certain residential premises, in cars and on the streets.
These are in addition to massive increases in taxes on cigarettes, plus the destruction of the intellectual property of the cigarette companies by imposing plain packaging.
The anti tobacco lobby has a right to inform smokers about the potential harm they do to themselves by continuing to smoke. And clearly it should not be permissible to misrepresent that harm.
But we should strongly resist laws that erode our right to make decisions for ourselves, even when they are bad choices, unless our decisions directly harm others. And that does not include collectivisation of harm, such as the socialisation of medical costs.
Moreover, private property owners such as bar and restaurant proprietors have every right to decide whether to allow smoking on their premises so long as non-smokers are warned and can choose to stay out. The erosion of property rights in Australia has gone far beyond what is acceptable.
Government should not compel or prohibit any personal activity when that activity poses danger to that individual alone. Drinking and smoking marijuana is one thing, but driving recklessly under the influence is quite another. When an individual threatens the lives of others, there is a role for government to restrain that violence.
The government today is involved in compulsion or prohibition of just about everything in our daily activities. Many times these efforts are well intentioned. Other times they result from a philosophic belief that average people need smart humanitarian politicians and bureaucrats to take care of them. The people, they claim, are not smart enough to make their own decisions. And unfortunately, many citizens go along, believing the government will provide perfect safety for them in everything they do.
Since governments can't deliver, this assumption provides a grand moral hazard of complacency and will only be reversed with either a dictatorship or a national bankruptcy that awakens people and forces positive change.
Your Choice, Not The Government's
Governments are comprised of politicians and public servants with no special insight or wisdom. Despite that, they constantly tell us what is best for us and how to run our lives.
They tie up enterprising businesses in regulations and red tape that prevent them from investing, expanding and employing more people.
They insist we eat healthy foods, not smoke, wear a helmet when we ride a bicycle and not use marijuana. They tell us how to discipline our children, whether we can renovate our houses and who we can marry. They prevent us from owning a weapon to protect our families and stops us from obtaining help to end our own lives even we are in terminal pain. They force us to vote when we don't want to.
The Liberal Democratic Party believes people should make their own choices and accept responsibility for the consequences. We believe governments have neither the expertise nor the right to tell people how to run their lives and should stick to things like protecting Australia from attack and safeguarding property rights.
The LDP believes in legalising assisted suicide, the right of self defence and voluntary voting. We consider property owners, not the government, should decide whether smoking is allowed on their property and whether to remove trees.
We believe the government has no business regulating victimless crimes such as adult consensual prostitution, adult pornography or risky behaviour that harms nobody else. We believe speed limits should be determined by what most motorists regard as safe, not what public servants deem to be acceptable.
Even when the choices that individuals make are unwise and could harm them, so long as nobody else is harmed involuntarily, the LDP says, "It's your choice, not the government's."