Archive for category Politics

The wrong policy approach to climate change

There are two interrelated aspects when discussing global warming and climate change: one is the validity of the science, and the other is the policy approach taken.

This post is about the policy approach taken, so rather than debate the science, assume there is a scenario where a producer is causing damage (external costs) to others, and consider what policy is appropriate in such a situation:

Climate Policy 0 - damage

For too long has the Left been allowed to own this issue, leading invariably to big government attempts at a solution. Given the track record of governments in handling environmental issues, this is not a good outcome.

Most current policy approaches to this situation are wrong because they are manifestly unfair.

It is time that we campaign to ensure that a fair, market-based, solution is achieved.

Below I will detail several of the current policy approaches being used, and show why they are wrong; I will then make the case why the libertarian approach, based on private property rights, is the correct solution.

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Minor Parties Vote Compass, Australian 2016 Federal Election

The ABC Vote Compass is a good tool for orientating yourself in the political spectrum but only showed the three major parties, as did Fairfax’s YourVote; the third party iSideWith did a bit better, including the other parties with elected Senators: Family First and the Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, the international Political Compass, for some reason, included Katter’s Australian Party.

So, what about all the other minor parties? Well, here is my attempt at putting them on the graph:

Post - Vote Compass

Where possible, the results are based on an official email response from the party, otherwise, it is based on policy documents and other stated positions.

Being a classical liberal, I support both economic and social freedom, so am interested in the overall liberalism rating of parties, the forward diagonal, from the most control-leaning (bottom-left) to freedom-leaning (top-right).

Post - Liberalism

In this post, I provide the calculated results for the parties, presented across several different dimensions, as well as the full details of the calculations.

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ABC Vote Compass 2016 diagonal bias

For the 2016 election, the ABC Vote Compass has a diagonal bias embedded in some of the questions, reinforcing the major party axis and making it impossible to score highly (or lowly) in both economic freedom (Economic Right) and social freedom (Social Progressive) at the same time.

Due to the structure of the questions, final results are only possible within the shaded area, and can never reach the top right or bottom left corners.

EDIT (2016-06-23): It is possible to get in the top right (or bottom left) by answering “Don’t Know” (rather than the middle answer) to the six diagonal questions. Results are scaled to only the questions you answer (this also scales the position of the parties to those same questions). The limitation applies if you answer every question. Also, the actual limit is slightly curved (not a straight line), as each question has a slightly different economic/social ratio, so it is actually possible to do slightly better than all-neutral answers.

Vote Compass 2016 - diagonal bias

Vote Compass 2016 – diagonal bias

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Proportional Representation

There are many different criteria by which voting systems can be evaluated.

One of the most important criteria to me is proportional representation. Closely related to this are transferrable vote systems, which help maintain proportionality.

I was surprised to find out, after moving state within Australia to Queensland, to find out that it was the only state without some form of proportional representation!

All other states have an Upper House elected by proportional representation. The Lower Houses are formed from single member electorates, and so absolutely dominated by the major parties with no proportionality, but the bicameral parliament ensures some measure of democracy is maintained.

(Effectively, with the Lower House always dominated by one party or the other, there is never any possible meaningful debate there; the government will always win, every time. The only real debate, negotiation and compromise, or possibility of failure, occurs in the Upper House.)

As shown in the graphs below, at a federal level, there is already a degree of bias towards the major parties (getting more seats than the proportionally should), due to the high quotas (low number of positions) in the Senate. Recent proposed changes will make this even worse, with the 18% of voters for minor parties reduced to a single seat (2% of the parliament).

AU - 2013 Senate and Senators

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Australian map of liberalism (vs party)

Based on the liberalism index (freedom-leaning vs control-leaning) from the ABC Vote Compass data, Jack Mackay (https://www.facebook.com/jack.mackay.378) has created a map of the electorates coloured by their rank on the liberalism index.

For contrast I’ve included the original map, with colours by political party (although from an older source, for the 2010 election).

Australia Liberalism vs Party

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Australia’s most control-leaning and freedom-leaning seats

The ABC Vote Compass consisted of 30 questions: 15 related to social freedom and 15 related to economic freedom. Each question had five possible answers: strongly agree/disagree, somewhat agree/disagree and neutral, with ‘sometimes’ given a value half as much as a ‘strongly’.

Some of the summary data now is available, allowing an initial analysis, such as an overall liberalism index, showing the most control-leaning vs freedom-leaning seats, the compliment to the most left-leaning and right-leaning seats reported by the ABC.

Freedom Index

Electorates such as Curtin (Julie Bishop), Wentworth (Malcolm Turnbull), Melbourne (Adam Bandt), Griffith (prev. Kevin Rudd) and North Sydney (Joe Hockey) are some of the most freedom-leaning seats, whilst Kennedy (Bob Katter), McMahon (Chris Bowen) and New England (Barnaby Joyce) are at the other end of the spectrum.

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Vote Compass

So, usually I blog about technology, but it’s about time I added a bit of social commentary.

A cool feature of the recent Australian Federal Election was the ABC Vote Compass. Here it is, showing where the major political parties are placed:

VoteCompass2

This concept, of plotting both the economic and social position of politics, has been around for a while, e.g. the Political Compass or Political Quiz (note: both of these have the Y-axis the other way around, so you have to swap top-bottom to compare to the ABC Vote Compass).

It also shows why none of the major Australian political parties are a good fit for me — I want a mix of the economic right AND social liberalism, I want the social policies of the Greens / Labor, and the economic policies of the Coalition.

The positions of the major parties is something I could never quite understand: why is social liberalism so connected to the economic left, and why is the economic right (economic liberalism) so connected to conservative social policies?

That leaves me to turn to minor parties such as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), often with below the line voting (and wishing we had above the line optional preferences).

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