Why should we obey the law?

The Logical Place

The Conversation

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allegoria del buon governo.

Duncan Ivison, University of Sydney

The claim by Sally McManus, the new head of the ACTU, that when the law is unjust, ‘I don’t think there is a problem in breaking it’, returns us to a deep question in political philosophy: Why should I obey the law and the state more generally? The Conversation

The howls of outrage from the Prime Minster and some of his colleagues (as well asThe Australian ) about her claims, are part political theatre, but also hint at the challenges these questions raise for self-consciously liberal societies.

What is political obligation?

To have a political obligation is to have a moral duty to obey the laws and support the institutions of one’s political community. In fact, I think political obligations are a broader category of duties then strictly legal obligations. The two can come apart. For example, I might have…

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BBC News erases identity of authors of UN ‘apartheid’ report

BBC Watch

h/t AM

On March 15th a UN body titled ‘United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia’ (ESCWA) – part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council – published a report claiming that Israel imposes an ‘apartheid regime’ on Palestinians.

“UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the “first of its type” from a U.N. body that “clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”. […]

ESCWA comprises 18 Arab states in Western Asia and aims to support economic and social development in member states, according to its website. The report was prepared at the request of member states, Khalaf said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that the report was published without any prior consultation with the UN secretariat.

“The report as it…

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Shouldn’t @NZSuperfund be funded by earmarked taxes? @TaxpayersUnion

Pre-funding of New Zealand’s old age pension obligations requires contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund now, higher taxes now in return for lower taxes later through the joys of compounding of the returns on the investments. If that is so, when the contributions are not made, the $3 billion in annual taxes should not be collected.

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Source: Andrew Coleman, PAYGO vs SAYGO: Prefunding Government-provided Pensions, Motu Economics and Public Policy 26 Oct 2010.

There should be a separate New Zealand superannuation fund contribution levy that should lapse when contributions are suspended, as they were from 2009, and the pay-outs start after 2036? Otherwise, taxpayers will never see the promised lower taxes in the future. Never?

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Source: Andrew Coleman Mandatory retirement income schemes, saving incentives, and KiwiSaver at http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/savingsworkinggroup/pdfs/swg-b-m-mris-24dec10.pdf 

Constitutional political economy matters despite the reluctance of most who specialise in Social Security reform to think about that backend public choice risk. Unless there is iron-clad guarantee of lower taxes in the future, the whole deal about pre-funding superannuation pay-outs is a con.

That politicians can pass a law in 2003 to pre-fund old-age pensions 40 years hence and expect the politicians of 2036 and onwards to honour the deal with tax cuts is politically naive.

Everything You Need to Know about the Non-Existent Wage Gap between Men and Women

International Liberty

An essential part of a free market economy is the price system. The competitive pricing of goods and services transmits information to producers and consumers and creates incentives for the efficient allocation of resources. Just as the circulatory system or nervous system enables our bodies to function.

And when you weaken or cripple markets with various forms government intervention (price controls, taxes, third-party payer, etc), that leads to distortions that reduce prosperity.

This is why “paycheck fairness” proposals to address the supposed “gender pay gap” are so risky for prosperity. It’s no exaggeration to say that these “comparable worth” schemes are designed to empower bureaucrats and politicians to override market forces.

What makes all this especially frustrating is there is no systemic discrimination against females in the workplace.

One of the leading scholars in this field is Christina…

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Question for Truthers, Birthers, and other Conspiracy-Mongers: Why Assume Sinister Schemes When Corruption, Incompetence, Politics, Ideology, Greed, and Self-Interest Are Better Explanations?

International Liberty

When I was in college and first became active in politics and public policy, I periodically would meet people who warned about sinister conspiracies that had to be exposed and overcome.

The most common villain, reviled by conspiracy theorists on the left and right, was something called the Trilateral Commission, though the Council of Foreign Relations often was mentioned in the same breath (I also remember a lefty friend warning about the Bilderbergers and Illuminati, though I never quite understood who or what they were supposed to be).

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anybody mention any of the above groups, but this doesn’t mean conspiracy theories have faded into the sunset. There are thriving communities of people who think:

a) Obama is a Kenyan and/or Muslim (the birthers).

b) The U.S. government and/or George W. Bush were complicit in the 9-11 attacks (the truthers).

c) The Federal…

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