Friday, July 10, 2015

The TaraElla Show

The new TaraElla show is launching, and the ideas lab is becoming part of the new TaraElla show.

Check it out here!

This means the ideas lab is closed for now. It may reopen in the future, depending on need.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A New Liberal Consensus

What does the word 'liberal' mean nowadays? It's a question worth asking. In North America, there has long been a distortion of the word to just mean big government and leftism, whilst in Australia, it is the name of what has become the major conservative party, a party that does not even support the freedom to marry for gay couples. Neither definition seems very 'liberal' to me.

In fact, the word 'liberal' has an inherent meaning, much like conservative or socialist. It means to support freedom. Of course, how this freedom is interpreted differs amongst individuals, but surely it doesn't mean taxation without representation or opposing the freedom to marry. We need to reclaim this word by strengthening awareness about what liberalism is (and what it is not).

All liberals should support freedom above any other ideology. A liberal may be conservative, progressive, pro-business, pro-environment, religious or atheist, or everything in between, but they must respect liberty above all else. Whilst they may have their own beliefs, they must not force it onto others. In politics, liberty must be their main game, and in upholding this liberty, they must not use the power of the state to force their beliefs onto others. For example, a liberal is free to not approve of same sex marriages personally, but should still vote for the freedom to marry. On the other hand, a liberal may be personally angry about climate sceptics not supporting more climate action, but has to fully understand that the mutual respect of each individual's personal conscience and the upholding of the principle of governments only levying taxes when there is a mandate to do so are too important to sacrifice in any case, and therefore will not use the climate emergency to justify distorting these principles.

Liberals may otherwise still have disagreements on policy and ideology. For example, some liberals believe that lower taxation and freer markets are always the key to freedom, whilst others believe that freedom would only equally be available to the poor and disadvantaged if a strong welfare safety net is available. Some liberals believe in gun control, citing that it is a right for citizens to be able to roam the streets without fear, whilst others believe that the right to bear arms is more important. Either way, these are all valid disagreements for liberals to have, because they are all about how freedom is to be maintained. Therefore, liberalism should be a broad church. I believe the consensus should be that everyone who truly believes in liberty for all should be allowed in, even though this welcome should not extend to encompass those who seek to take away others' liberty for any other ideological agenda (whether it is religious values, environmentalism, upholding tradition, or feminism).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rehabilitating Traditional Values

I believe that some traditional values, like a lifelong commitment to one's partner and family, public modesty, and modesty in the entertainment sphere, and associated lifestyle habits, like saying no to 'recreational' drugs, are conducive to living a great life. As much as I know that these are great values to have, however, I do know that just this preceding sentence will have made some readers uncomfortable. As a result, this is a topic we don't often get to talk about in public. And it is something we need to address.

I believe the reason why certain traditional values have almost become a taboo topic is because some of the people that have been proponents of these values in the past few decades have been judgemental. We need to change this image. For example, whilst I may be a proponent of the 'just say no to drugs' movement, I am also not going to be judgemental towards any drug user. In fact, I am of the opinion that what they do should not come under legal punishment, although I know that too may be controversial in some circles. In other words, although I live by this 'just say no' principle and I am proud to promote it from time to time, unlike many other people I don't feel that I am morally superior to drug users because of their lifestyle choice. It's just that I propose and promote what I believe to be a better lifestyle choice. The same principle can be applied to many other things in life.

The traditional values movement has a right to promote its values. However, it really doesn't have a right to treat those who don't follow as inferior or less moral in any way. Like any other movement, we need to attract followers by standing on our own merits. And being judgmental is never going to be viewed nicely.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Libertarian Vision: Better Achieved Gradually

The libertarian cause, i.e. to reduce government intervention in every area of life and to give people more flexibility and 'freedom to do the right thing', is a very noble cause. However, I believe that it must be achieved gradually, perhaps over decades. Let me explain.

Firstly, whilst libertarian policies as we commonly understand them are ultimately what we should strive for, in some cases their immediate implementation would cause some people to lose freedom. For example, the withdrawal of anti-discrimination laws would mean ethnic minorities and LGBT people have less freedom to access opportunities in life, the withdrawal of government welfare would mean those living in poverty have less freedom to negotiate their working conditions, and the complete and immediate withdrawal of gun control may mean those who cannot afford to buy a gun or learn to use one feel unsafe and therefore effectively lose their freedom of movement. Whilst all these policies may eventually be able to be implemented in a society that is mature enough for them, in the 2010s we are simply not there yet.

Let me take this from another angle. Whilst those of us familiar with libertarianism find libertarian policies logical, whether we agree with their (immediate) implementation or not, the wider world really doesn't understand them at all. The Libertarian Party may be the third largest party in the USA, but stereotypes about libertarians being conspiracy theorists or even anti-social remain strong in some circles. In Australia, where a senator representing a libertarian party was elected recently (something US libertarians can probably only dream of right now), many people across the political spectrum, from the environmentalist left to the religious right, still appear to completely misunderstand the new senator's positions on various matters. All this just shows that libertarianism continues to have a communication problem worldwide, and many non-libertarians continue to view it as, to put it mildly, eccentric.

In a society that measures policies and ideologies by their results more than anything else, libertarianism cannot exist in a bubble. It must generate acceptable results regarding its stated goal: to maximize freedom for everyone. And if it is to do so, then libertarian policies must be rolled out gradually, and only when they do increase freedom in the current society. If we can consistently stick to this plan, libertarianism will become better understood by society, and will be seen as practical and the right thing to do.