APEC, Protestors and Political Coercion


“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

That’s a little Walt Whitman for you, America’s second-greatest poet, from “Song of Myself.” 

Goodness gracious! Crikey! You cannot be serious!

We are gobsmacked that anyone would think we were siding with big government APEC yesterday. We got a bag full of e-mail from disappointed, irate readers who thought we were siding with The Man in his impending confrontation with APEC protestors. Let us clarify.

Government is the biggest property destroying bully of them all. We weren’t siding with it yesterday… or the day before… or tomorrow… or ever. We object, as a matter of principle, to anyone or any group that tries to use the political system and the power of legislation to tell us how to live our life. Live and let live is how we prefer our politics (if we must have a politics at all.)

In that respect, we don’t see much difference between the people who lead APEC and those who are chaining themselves to coal conveyor belts at the Loy Yang power station in Victoria. One group pursues an agenda that promotes the power of the Nation State and its cousins, large corporate interests. The other wants to impose a different set of rules based on different values. But they both basically want to tell us what to do.

Both groups agree that political power ought to be pursued as means to an end. With political power, you can coerce people-through legislation, or other means-to do things your way. We are against that. Sweep your own doorstep. Stick to your own knitting. Butt out of people’s lives. This is why we don’t participate in politics, don’t vote, and encourage other people not to vote too.

Of course, we live in the age of public spectacles, where everyone tells everyone what to do all the time. We probably indulge in unsolicited instruction in the DR too, but only in a negative sense. We tell people what they shouldn’t do.

While we’re on the subject though, how close are we to living a police state? By “we” I mean Australians, Americans, Britons….the whole lot.

Frankly, we find it appalling that here in Australia the Federal government spends millions of dollars on ads that depict actors as dead children (from drugs)… that show cops administering booze tests and drug tests to random drivers… and that interrupt our dinner with graphic pictures of disfigured smokers. We wish the government would get out of our living room.

What business does the government have lecturing, hectoring, and threatening people about private behaviour? And they spend tax payer money to boot! We’re not condoning smoking, drug use, or drink driving. But you don’t promote responsibility in a free society by making people less free, banning dangerous behaviour, and keeping a constant watchful eye on an increasingly large sphere of what used to be private activity.

And don’t even get us started on the anti-terrorism ads that encourage you to spy and inform on your neighbors. There are surely terrorist threats in the world. But you haven’t won much if you fight them by turning an open society into a surveillance society with a constant level of paranoia, distrust, and suspicion… all of it encouraged by the authorities.

What DO we believe? If you give your word, keep it. And don’t do anything to transgress on anyone else’s person or property. Those are two simple rules. Anything else on top of them is meddling.

As for all the other threats and dangers government promises to protect us from, it’s balderdash. There’s an assumption of risk when you get out of bed in the morning. Trying to make the world safer by restricting what people can do with their freedom is a bad trade.

Enough of the political philosophy though. If you want more of that, we suggest John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government.

Dan Denning
The Daily Reckoning Australia

Dan Denning
Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.


  1. Violent protest doesn’t help any cause regardless. However, I wonder sometimes who the agent provocatuers really work for

    nic meredith
    September 5, 2007
  2. …and “sweeping your own doorstep” does NOT turn you into a selfish individual that ignores society either, check this out for how/why:

  3. since becoming interested in gold and big picture economics etc. – it has amazed me how many enlightened minds reside in great sites like this.I am sure an awareness of the underlying patterns and agendas encountered in life, is the secret of true success.The independant investor is reasonably sheltered from the do-gooder interference encontered in the general business world.Escape from these morons is conducive to a higher level of conciousness.

  4. Greetings from Da-Nang (Surry Hills, Sydney) we’ve been under siege for some time now with no end in sight. The constant buzzing of choppers and endless sirens combined with steel fences and herds of police in jack-boots make for a lovely showcase of our fine city.

    These cut-lunch commandos are in their (pea-brained) element right now, blindly following orders that will make no difference to anyone truly intent on wreaking havoc. Can someone tell me how F111’s flying over Sydney at 1000kmph will stop an attack? or why a 20 car motorcade (where everyone knows which car George is in) is a safer mode of transport than sticking him in an old Holden station wagon and travelling incognito?

    The emperors new clothes to all of them…and the delusional markets too. thank god you folks are now in Oz to inject some clarity and stir the pot, we love you guys!!!

    One question (well thousands of questions actually, but one will do for now)…what about the ratings agencies that so helpfully gave these CDO’s et al the wonderful AAA rating? should they be held accountable for their financial obfuscation that led to people thinking all was well. How do they rate something so highly when it now emerges that no one has any idea of intrinsic value at all…time to break out the testicle clamps, I say.

    Please keep stirring the pot. the only hope for this doomed society is to have a few of us left to actually ask the hard questions and not swallow all that is handed to us. But can we really blame the Howard government for our current “Nanny State”? Perhaps the blame should rest with us…endless cries of “the government should do something…” have led to restrictive laws that give the appearance of “doing something”…the government, I suspect, knows only too well that it really cant do anything effective other than create the illusion that its “doing something”.

    Have a great day folks…I’m off to cancel my foxtel subscription and exorcise the ghosts of CNBC from my lounge room

  5. Dan,

    Note your frustration at the public health, self-harm minimisation campaigns of the govt, but let’s take the debate a step further.

    Having socialised the cost of self harm behaviour through the medical and social welfare systems, continuance of that behaviour then costs us all through the tax system and use of scarce medical resources. So under this scenario, there is hopefully, but perhaps not demonstrated, some trade off that the idiots will cost us all less if they stop doing stupid things when encouraged via advertsing – that idiots seem to respond too so well towhen it comes to using their credit cards. ( A behaviour I will likely do soon too in order to acquire a copy of ‘Mobs, Messiahs & Markets’ ).

    Personally, if you want to ride around on a motorbike without a helmet or smoke 60 a day, I couldn’t care less – as long as you sign a release that the public health system will not have to absorb the cost of your folly.

    But can you imagine the squeals from the mass media when the first of these careless types actually winds up on the steps of a hospital without recourse to treatment ? Uncaring govt, heartless society etc etc.

    Which leads me to agree with Tony of Surry Hills above. Do you see the mass media, public advocacy/protest groups or the long suffering middleclass demanding LESS Nanny State largesse in this country ? No way – at least a part of the next federal election will be the subliminal understanding of the swinging voters that EVERYTHING is likely to get more expensive in future – food, energy, water, housing, services – and the unstated assumption that Labor will hand out subsidies willy nilly to apparently ease the burden. A false economy we know, but everyone hopes someone else winds up carrying the can.

    So is it any wonder that under a constant daily barrage of “It’s all the feds fault” or “the feds should do something about it”, that parts of the Coalition have said ‘bugger it – you want hand outs, here they are’ and ‘if the states are going to keep shoving the buck to us – we’ll do the job instead’.

    It seems to me the bulk of the voters are pleading for the onset of the Big Brother Nanny State with open arms – and one day they may get their wish and have a long time to regret it.

    Kevo of Sydney
    September 6, 2007
  6. Nic

    The agent provocateurs are from the Socialist Alliance mob. You can tell from the proforma placards they give the school kids. They say they are Trotskyist but most of them wouldn’t know anything about Trotsky. All of them are far removed from progressive socialist thinking. As Dan indicates, they are as bad as (and in my opinion far more authoritarian) than the people they are protesting against.



    The F18s will intercept any stray aircraft and they are armed. Also, the rent-a-crowd mob is too stupid to realise that the police are there to protect them from the snipers behind the barrier.

    Back to the subject of this board, the rating agencies assess the likelihood of CDO borrowers defaulting AT THE TIME the instrument is issued. The rating agencies do not assess the market value of a CDO (its the drop in market values that trigger margin calls on the leveraged equity tranche of the issuing institution.) The rating agencies do not assess every aspect of a CDO construction either. So in a nutshell there is both misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what a rating means.

    Coffee Addict
    September 6, 2007
  7. […] at The Daily Reckoning, Dan Denning has some thoughts on “APEC, Protestors and Political Coercion“. Goodness gracious! Crikey! You cannot be […]


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