Keysar Trad: Why should polygamy be a crime?

In the pages of The Age, Keysar Trad asks why polygamy should be a crime.

Rather than argue that polygamy should be explicitly legalised and regulated by law, it might be better to simply argue that this is simply an issue of freedom of contract and individuals should be free to enter into whatever contracts they want without state interference.

Counterpoint on Seasteading

At various times, we have written about the idea of seasteading on this site.  The ABC’s Counterpoint program featured the topic earlier in the month.

Setting up new societies on gigantic platforms out at sea, well away from the authority of any existing state is what the seasteading movement hopes to achieve. Not everyone is convinced that it has a viable future. Brian Doherty assesses the progress made to date.

Brian Doherty’s recent article 20,000 Nations Above the Sea: Is floating the last, best hope for liberty? is also a worthwhile introduction to the topic.

Festival of Dangerous Ideas

I have recently become aware of a festival to be held in Sydney called the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.  The festival, to be held on 3/4th October and run by Sydney Opera House and St James Ethics Centre, features a number of lectures that look quite interesting:

Old people should pay for themselves, by John Humphreys (5:45pm Sunday 4 October)

People with flat screen TV’s should stop whinging about capitalism, by Oliver Hartwich & Cassandra Wilkinson (12:30pm Sunday 4 October)

Yes to child labour, no to the minimum wage, by Ray Evans (5:30pm Saturday 3 October)

In addition to the above, Christopher Hitchens and Keysar Trad will also be speaking.

“The far left BNP is an anti-British party.”

Daniel Hannan, European MP, on the left-wing British National Party (BNP):

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Although they are frequently referred to as a “far right” party, their policies, like those of their Australian counter-parts, are essentially left wing.  Hannan writes in a piece on the same subject:

As Hayek wrote in 1944 in his brilliant chapter on “the socialist roots of Nazism”, the dispute between fascists and socialists is a dispute between brothers. Labour and the BNP are, in a sense, competing for the same sort of voter: one who believes in the power of the state. The one kind of voter whom both fascists and socialists regard as beyond persuasion is the small-government Tory.

Daniel blogs here and has some great youtube videos.  For example, here is he explaining the essence of these so-called “bailouts” and “stimulus” packages:

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Thought Crimes

Following a spate of violent attacks on Indian students, the Victorian government is proposing that tougher sentences should be handed out to criminals who perpetrate crimes motivated out of a hatred of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation:

HATE crime could soon be an offence in Victoria as the State Government moves to crack down on violent attacks against Indian students, homosexuals and other targeted groups.

Under a plan being pushed by Attorney-General Rob Hulls, judges would have to take into account “hatred for or a prejudice against a particular group of people” as an aggravating factor when sentencing offenders.

Tougher sentences would apply to crimes deemed to be based on victims’ race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

The idea of imposing tougher sentences for so-called “hate crimes” raises some interesting questions.

Continue reading →

Mosque Finder

Kashif, over at Peace Bruv, has put together a useful mosque finder site and would like some help in developing it further:

At the time of writing i have over 1800 mosques listed on the site. What i really need now is for people to visit the site, find their local mosque and fill in the “update mosque info” page with details of their local masjid’s facilities, and preferably a photo too.

Mosque-finder.com currently includes ~150 Australian mosques and prayer rooms.

Religiously Exclusive Housing Projects

Over at Thoughts on Freedom, John Humphreys writes:

I believe in private property rights and the right to discriminate. Logically then, I believe that any group of people (including racial or religious groups) should be able to buy property and use it as they wish. If you are white and you only want to live with other whites, then you should NOT use political power to remove non-whites from Australia, but you should be allowed to join together and buy a block of units (or a farm, or whatever) which only accepts whites.

I would agree.  As a believer in property rights, I have to accept that some people will choose to exercise those rights in a manner that I might find disagreeable or discriminatory.

The scenario described by John is not so far fetched as it might seem.  Indeed, this appears to be what some Muslims are also trying to do.   The West Australian reports this week that some West Australian Muslims are planning to build a $10M Muslim-only enclave.

Islamic Council of WA spokesman Rahim Ghauri said the group had an architect-designed concept plan for a six-storey housing development, an underground carpark and a hall for weddings, conferences and religious and recreational activities.

The council’s religious adviser apparently draws inspiration from apartheid South Africa:

“In South Africa, because of apartheid, all different communities were set up and it worked well. It kept people separate. We can be together in terms of our contribution to the wider community.”

The extent to which apartheid-era South Africa should be considered a model for Australian Muslims is, of course, debatable.  And the thought of living in a culturally or religiously homogeneous enclave might not necessarily appeal to all Muslims.  However, if these people wish to build such an environment using their own money and exercise their property rights in this fashion then on what basis can one really object?

There might also be some advantages from such an approach.  As John Humphreys summarises:

One advantage of allowing people to pursue their own lifestyles voluntarily on their own property is that you take away the need for them to become politically active on the issues that annoy them. Instead of lobbying the government for fewer immigrants, anti-immigrants can choose to live in a “non-immigrant” area. Instead of lobbying the government for special rights and funding for minority cultures, those cultures can choose to live together and maintain their own culture.

Shariah Courts in the UK

The Telegraph reports:

Five sharia courts have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester and Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The government has quietly sanctioned that their rulings are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Previously, the rulings were not binding and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

Unlike the UK’s civil court system, the so-called shariah courts derive their power from the consent of those who voluntarily seek their judgement or arbitration.

The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.

Shariah courts and shariah law would thus become one of several competing private systems of dispute resolution; systems into which people or organisations might choose to ‘opt in’ when forming contracts with one another or in the event of a dispute.  A couple might decide, for example, when formulating their marriage contract, to have any disputes judged according to Islamic law or two people forming a business contract might decide that they wish for any disputes to be judged in strict accordance to the Law of Star Trek.  The basis upon which disputes are resolved is irrelevant.

As Bryan Caplan explains in his excellent thesis on the subject of private law:

Continue reading →

Marching Toward Hell?

I’m reading Michael Scheuer’s Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq at the moment; an interesting book by the author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America and former chief of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit. As an aside, his books have also been recommended [pdf] by Osama Bin Laden (“If you want to understand what’s going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer.”).

In one of the chapters in the book, Scheuer discusses the future of Europe, arguing that a “shrinking and aging native population” will require an “ever increasing flow of immigrants to maintain a workforce to keep its social welfare system from bankruptcy for a bit longer.”

But who will these immigrants be? To quote Mark Steyn, “[a] talented ambitious Chinese or Indian has zero reason to immigrate to France, unless he is consumed by a perverse fantasy of living in a segregated society that artificially constrains his economic opportunities yet imposes confiscatory taxation on him in order to support an ancient regime of indolent geriatrics.”

The answer, therefore, is for this demand for workers to be met by the already sizable Muslim population in these countries, their children, and the Muslim immigrants who continue to be drawn to the region.

As a result, Scheuer argues, these European societies are likely to undergo several changes as their dependence on Muslim taxpayers grows and as those Muslims start exerting more influence on the society and its politics. He writes, “as things stand, Europe seems destined to leave its decaying and bankrupt hulk in the hands of a vibrantly religious, semi-martial, youthful and hardworking Muslim population.”

Although Europe may be becoming, to use the author’s colourful description, a “passive, homogeneous, self-centered, non-competitive, bureaucrat-ruled, militantly secular, and anti-military society”, it’s possible that the future may be somewhat unpleasant. He continues:

The end of French Enlightenment thought, the end of all efforts to produce the perfect European man, has been massive human destruction. From the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars through the eras of fascism, Communism, and Nazism, totalitarianism and mass murder have been the end-state of political systems aimed at perfecting humanity. Total warfare and genocide, moreover, are European inventions and thus reside in the history locker that contemporary Europeans have kept double-padlocked and tried to ignore. Who is to say that Europe, in extremis, will not try to save itself by taking recourse to that at which it has traditionally excelled: chauvinistic nationalism, government-sponsored persecution of minorities, and unlimited warfare? And because history suppressed has a way of roaring back to life, might not a last-ditch European survival effort wage its battles under the banner of a revived Christianity? EC leaders already have fully absorbed the attitude Walter Bagehot attributed to the French philosophes –”everything for the people, nothing by them … they wished to do everything by fiat of the sovereign” — and might well turn into supernationalists order to save their own skins.

Depending on government

Temujin at the ALS Blog makes an interesting observation:

In the early 1960s, 3% of Australians relied on the government for most of their income. By 1980 that had increased to 14%. And now, despite a decade of strong economic growth and increased employment opportunities, 17.5% of Australians rely on the government for most their income — including 5% of Australians who are apparently disabled and 5% who are carers (mostly single parents).

It is easy to sympathise with the social-democratic desire to protect the most vulnerable. But does anyone really believe that nearly one in five of Australians are vulnerable and can’t look after themselves? That is about 4 million people!