Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hillel Steiner: Bold political thinking from Manchester UK

Samuel Brittan has an intriguing op-ed article in the FT Sept 14 2012. Website title: The Lib-Dems need to be more liberal . It concludes with four recommendations for Lib-Dem policy so that they can move beyond 'pavement policy and opportunistic gestures' (such as the 'gimmick' of mansion tax). Brittan takes his source as Prof Hillel Steiner's book Essay on Rights (Manchester Universtity), see: Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog for references , where there was a discussion earlier this year on Hillel's ideas of left-libertarianism. Brittan thinks that L-L is the right way for Lib-Dems. With the Lib-Dem conference soon to start, we may see. But as political parties do not seem to spell out core beliefs too clearly, we may not see.

Hillel starts his book with a disclaimer. Whilst he offers to find out what justice is, he states that we cannot have an answer as to what justice is for. OK, he's a philosopher, he would say that I suppose.  But he deals with rights, justice, and freedom, and he is a helpful philosopher to ordinary non-philosophers, and Brittan lists four Steiner policies to guide us:
1. Privatisation and deregulation (economy & social rules)
2. State revenue to be taken increasingly from land tax and inheritance tax 
3. Means tested welfare benefits to become unconditional basic income
4. Free trade, free immigration & international pooling of land tax revenue 

Some of the above is included in my book The Free Lunch - Fairness with Freedom, for which I was indebted to Henry George, James Robertson, Joseph Huber and indeed Brittan himself from his book Capitalism with a Human Face. Although I had a different starting point of Judeo-Christian thought, I tried to separate the argument out from that, to be based on what I thought reasonable people would agree with - religious believers or not. Steiner's list as quoted by Brittan bears me out. 
posted by Charles Bazlinton

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