Archive for the ‘right liberalism’ category

The right pulls the race card

August 10, 2014

Traditionally the race card is something left wing progressives like to use whenever they are losing an argument with social conservatives. But times are a changin’ and today the economic right is increasingly using the race card to shut down progressive or populist debate on free trade, immigration and globalisation.

In New Zealand there’s currently a debate going on about the sale of large farms to Chinese investors. This policy is actively promoted by the mainstream centre right but opposed by a loose coalition of environmentalists, socialists and populists. The right has responded by labeling their opponents as “xenophobic racists” opposed to the idea of large-scale Asian investment. While the sale of large blocks of land to foreigners may or may not be a good thing from an economic point of view, there are indeed serious questions about whether it’s a good idea to sell large amount of land to investors from non-western countries. As well as the issue of corruption there is also the issue of whether such land buy-ups will result in increased pressure for the importation of Chinese labour to work on such farms. After all, low-wage third world labour from the Philippines and Melanesia is already being widely used on dairy farms and vineyards, with numerous reports of sub-standard wages and work conditions.

However, the economic right is not prepared to debate these issues and instead is resorting to the race card to try and shut down the debate altogether. If opinion polls are anything to go by this policy is clearly backfiring. Calling refugee-loving liberals “racist” sounds desperate and pathetic, and will only serve to further alienate social conservatives who are already feed up with the mammon obsessed policies of the mainstream centre right.


Early and contemporary progressives – a comparison

June 3, 2013

I’ve just been reading Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism. The theme of Goldberg’s book is that modern progressives are just like the progressives of the early 20 th Century. According to Goldberg, all progressives like using government power to achieve their ends, so all progressives are “liberal fascists.”

However, this shallow argument is based solely on means rather than ends. Just because early progressives liked using state power doesn’t mean they wanted to achieve the same things that modern progressives do, or that they were authoritarian in the same ways that modern progressives are. After all, if today’s progressives are just like those of the 1920s and 1930s, then why is modern society so different from what it was 80 years ago?

Here’s some important differences between early and modern progressives which Goldberg downplays and ignores:

Early progressives generally believed in promoting the interests of the majority/Modern progressives promote the interests of minorities

Early progressives wanted to get more native minorities into paid employment so they could support their families and contribute taxes/Modern progressives actively support affirmative action across a wide range of training courses, jobs and political positions, for both native and immigrant minorities.

Early progressives distrusted the financial sector and many were actively hostile towards it/Modern progressives are generally supportive of the financial sector

Early progressives tended to support farming and manufacturing/Modern progressives are apathetic about farming and manufacturing

Early progressives had mixed views about nationalism and protectionism/Most modern progressives actively promote free trade, open borders and global government

Early progressives supported energy independence and aggressively promoted large-scale infrastructure projects/Modern progressive are apathetic about energy independence and are heavily influenced by the thinking of environmentalists

Early progressives had little interest in introducing hate speech laws and saw censorship as something that conservatives did/Modern progressives strongly support hate speech laws and PC speech codes, and many believe right-wing intellectuals, jounalists and entertainers should be actively discriminated against.

Early progressives were interested in discussing human bio-diversity/Modern progressives are not interested in discussing human bio-diversity and criticise or censor those who are

Many early progressives supported eugenics or had an open mind about it /All modern progressives are strongly opposed to eugenics and arguably support dysgenics

Early progressives believed in IQ testing and meritocratic education/Modern progressives are opposed to IQ testing and strongly support egalitarian dogma in education

Early progressives tended to be cautious about immigration and many were immigration restrictionists/Almost all modern progressives are strongly critical of immigration restrictionists, oppose building border fences and off-shore detention camps, and are uncritical supporters of UN refugee quotas

Early progressives supported traditional nuclear families with government subsidies/Modern progressives are often hostile to the traditional nuclear family and give state handouts to single parents

Early progressives had mixed views about women in the workforce/Modern progressives believe in equal pay and subsidised child care so women can compete directly against men in the job market

Early progressives weren’t very concerned about gay rights/Modern progressives actively promote gay rights and homosexual parenting

Given the big differences between early and modern progressives in terms of political views, it’s a big stretch to say that modern progressives have similar agendas to their predecessors

I’d argue the reason people like Goldberg fixate on progressive means rather than ends, it that they actually support many of the ends of modern progressives and see the ends of early progressives as too fascist, elitist or conservative.


Welfare realism

November 11, 2011

Here in the UK Commonwealth the mainstream media often runs stories about unemployed locals unwilling to take up temporary jobs in areas with high levels of unemployment. However, the MSM rarely discusses the reasons why locals are reluctant to do these jobs.

One reason is the way in which unemployment benefits are managed.

Since the 1980s we’ve been told we most adapt to a neoliberal economy with flexible labour market, which means there aren’t as many permanent jobs as there used to be. However, 30 years later we still don’t have a flexible and accessible system of unemployment benefits. Indeed, the welfare system in most parts of the Commonwealth is actually getting more inflexible and less accessible.

Thanks to right liberal reforms, it now takes more time and effort to access unemployment benefits. The thinking behind this is if it’s harder to access unemployment benefits then the unemployed will try harder to find full-time jobs (right liberals think everything is about willpower). Perhaps they do try harder, but this policy hasn’t reduced the number of people on welfare.

On reason is more people have decided to get off unemployment benefits and move onto sickness benefits. Another is that once people have gone through all the hoops off getting on the unemployment benefit, they are reluctant to take up short-term or seasonal work for fear they will have their benefit cancelled, and thus have to go through the whole application process again when their work ends. Often there are also long stand down periods if workers are sacked – not a great incentive for a marginally employable person to take up a new job and risk losing their benefit.

While access to benefits has got harder, actual benefit rates have tended to increase, with lots of additional handouts now available for operators who know how to milk the system. Perversely, the unemployment benefit has now become a job itself for those with the nerve and patience to make full use of it.

If welfare reformers were really serious about reducing the amount of money spend on unemployment benefits, they would be trying to encourage more people to take up easy to find temporary work and spend less time filling in welfare forms, looking for extra perks, and applying for hard to find full-time jobs for which many of them don’t have the skills or references for anyway.

One way to do this would be to introduce a temporary workers unemployment benefit. This no frills benefit could be set at a slightly lower rate than the full-time worker’s benefit, but would be more flexible and easier to access. As well as encouraging more unemployed people to find work, such a benefit would also help them gain skills and references for harder-to-find full-time work.