We’ve all got the right

Either he’s taking the metaphorical, or Clive Palmer just doesn’t get it:

Mr Palmer denied that launching a High Court challenge would prove Mr Swan’s accusation that he and other mining bosses were using their wealth to distort public debate. ”We’ve all got the right to go to High Court,” he said.

Oh, definitely. And the means to get there. The High Court is just always hearing matters brought by people surviving on the average wage or worse.

In other news, Clive and fellow mining billionaires pointed out that all Australians:

  • Have the right to buy a media company;
  • Have the right to own an expensie house in an expensive suburb*;
  • Have the right to know people of the board-member class and get themselves appointed to a couple of cushy executive seats;
  • Have the right to inherit a huge amount of money;
  • Have the right to telephone the Prime Minister and expect her to answer the phone.

Imagine an Australia where we all exercised these rights we definitely all have. What a place that would be.

*To be fair, these days that’s any suburb in a capital city, so quite a lot of people are exercising that “right”. Not many people under thirty, and a decreasing proportion of the population, but a lot of people nonetheless. On that subject, did you know that Clive Palmer is a licensed land rat? Another reason to love him.

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22 responses to “We’ve all got the right

  1. My favourite line was quoted in an ABC article:

    “That’s the country we live in – freedom of speech. We’ve all got the right to say what we think. You may not agree with it, but that’s a right we fought for in many world wars.”

    The guy is utterly clueless.

  2. We do have all those rights Jeremy (well, except for the last one) and we’re free to exercise them if we want. There’s a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.

    If Palmer can prove that the Carbon Tax is unconstitutional then good for him – he’s done us all a favour by removing an unconstitutional law from our parliament. If he can’t then he’ll waste a big chunk of his money for no good outcome.

    Seems like a win-win to me.
    Having said that I do agree that

  3. F#cking wordpress is playing silly buggers with me today.

  4. There’s a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.

    There is indeed. I don’t know who’s advocating for the latter, but Palmer’s analysis would be less laughable if we had the former.

    And I’m pretty sure we can’t all choose to inherit huge sums of money. Or in fact make an obscene number of times the average wage, pretty much by definition. That sort of wealth is comparative, and by definition can only exist if someone else is excluded. We can’t have 20 million newspaper proprietors. Hell, the country can barely support half a dozen.

  5. And I’m pretty sure we can’t all choose to inherit huge sums of money.

    You’ve added the word “choose” to change the meaning of what you wrote above. You questioned our right to inherit large sums of money and the fact is that if our parents are rich and leave us a huge inheritance we DO have a right to inherit it.

    Similarly, we all havethe right to derive an income that is an “obscene number of times the average wage” if we can orchestrate that outcome for ourselves. No law prevents us from this.

    As an aside I note that I strongly suspect you would like to see both of these current rights curtailed.

    That sort of wealth is comparative, and by definition can only exist if someone else is excluded.

    Come on Lefty – that’s a nonsense assertion.

  6. You’re kidding, right? If people have a “right” to something they can’t possibly orchestrate for themselves, then how exactly do you think it should be enforced?

    I’m pretty sure the system doesn’t protect any such “rights”.

    As for wealth – how exactly would Clive Palmer’s billions be meaningful if we all had billions? They wouldn’t. His billions are only as valuable as they are because they are so many times more than what an ordinary person has. For him to be wealthy and have this sort of privileged access to scarce resources that he has, someone else needs to be poor and be denied.

    (It’s not entirely a zero-sum game, of course, because it is possible to create real wealth and increase the value of everyone’s stake in the national pie. But the amount that any individual like Palmer has actually “created” (if anything at all) is insignificant compared to the privilege their share in that pie (as represented by their money) grants them over everyone else.)

  7. Perhaps you and I view the word “right” differently Jeremy. I believe I have a ‘right’ to do everything that I am not prevented by law from doing, whereas perhaps you believe that a right is something that the law specifically establishes you can do.

    For example I believe I have the right to wear a burqua in public, since there’s no law preventing me from doing so (yet). If a muslim approaches me and tells me to take the burqua off because it’s offensive to him (a reasonable view since I am a six and a half foot tall male) I can tell him to rack off because he has no legal basis for forcing me to remove the garment.

    Ergo, by my definition, I have a right to wear a burqua. And in the same vein I have a right to inherit wealth, to live in an expensive house, or to buy a media company – because there’s no law that prevents me from doing so.

    For him to be wealthy and have this sort of privileged access to scarce resources that he has, someone else needs to be poor and be denied.

    Do any of the economists here want to field this one? After all, the idea that human beings can create value through their efforts is a fairly critical foundation of economics as a concept.

    To be fair I actually do agree with the principle behind your argument Jeremy, i.e. that wealth should not give someone greater influence over public policy than anyone else, I just don’t agree with the way you’re making that argument.

    Sorry for being so contrarian.

  8. No, no, Jeremy, I like Mondo’s logic MUCH better -

    So I would like to exercise my right to be born with a 150 IQ, 6 ft 2 drop dead gorgeous frame and dazzling blue eyes.

  9. we all havethe right to derive an income that is an “obscene number of times the average wage” if we can orchestrate that outcome for ourselves. No law prevents us from this.

    And if they try to CREATE a law to bring our obscene incomes to a reasonable level, we’ll do our darnedest to kill it in the courts.

  10. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “The High Court is just always hearing matters brought by people surviving on the average wage or worse.”

    It does here those matters and the government often pays for it. Or Getupthemselves! Or the ALP, in Thomo’s case or a union, in Ludwig’s case (which had little or nothing to do with is union activities).

    Perhaps you would like a rule that people can’t go to court if they can afford to pay for it? That would be equality (I guess) but no one could have recourse to the courts.

    While it is true we have some wealthy idiots out there, they should be able to donate $1.6m to the Watermelons or spend $15m setting up their vanity leftist internet news organ or spend their money in any stupid wasteful way they want.

    RM: “So I would like to exercise my right to be born with a 150 IQ, 6 ft 2 drop dead gorgeous frame and dazzling blue eyes.”

    I did. Worked a treat for me.

  11. Capitalism is pretty much based on some people making shirtloads at the expense of other people. From slavery and colonialism to indentured work or the way indigenous australians were ripped off wages over the last 100 years (as stockmen or domestic workers or whatever), or from rich pricks like Palmer making billions off our resources and other peoples hard work its an unequal distribution of wealth based on some peoples ability to game the system.

    When people like Palmer then use their wealth to influence public policy solely with the aim of maintaining their privilege and their unequal share of the pie then they are taking advantage of rights that in the real world that they have and almost no one else does.

  12. mondo: “I believe I have a ‘right’ to do everything that I am not prevented by law from doing”.

    I’m not prevented by law from buying a huge ocean-going yacht and sailing the seven seas. But I am prevented by lack of money. A right I can never afford to exercise is not a “right” – it is a “privilege”.

  13. phyllis5tein

    RM: “So I would like to exercise my right to be born with a 150 IQ, 6 ft 2 drop dead gorgeous frame and dazzling blue eyes.”

    I did. Worked a treat for me.

    So, SB, in real life, you are bright and good looking. Wow. The internet does let you be the exact opposite of who you are in real life.

  14. “Capitalism is pretty much based on some people making shirtloads at the expense of other people.”

    No, it’s not.

    “From slavery and colonialism to indentured work or the way indigenous australians were ripped off wages over the last 100 years”

    None of which is capitalism.

    “When people like Palmer then use their wealth to influence public policy solely with the aim of maintaining their privilege”

    Except even he is subject to the rule of law, he’s using the law as it was intended, and his billions will make zero difference to what the High Court decides.

  15. OK what is it Jarrah?

  16. On second thoughts – yeah you are right jarrah.

    Capitalism is a specific thing that has an influence on the way our world functions, however, slavery is basically the logical extension of free market capitalism. All those other things are just the way our society has worked over time. It gets called capitalism tho. The dynamic that enables the likes of Palmer to build so much “wealth” is what gets confused with capitalism.

  17. Splatterbottom

    Jules: “slavery is basically the logical extension of free market capitalism.”

    Talking about “capitalism” in a vague way doesn’t help much because it doesn’t have a very well-defined meaning:

    There is no consensus on the definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category. There is general agreement that capitalism is an economic system that includes private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit or income, the accumulation of capital, competitive markets, voluntary exchange, and wage labor.

    Your reference to “free market capitalism” is inconsistent with slavery, since a free market in labour excludes slavery. Slavery was around long before free markets. In fact it is in situations where there is no free market in labour that you get slavery and serfdom.

    The current government is fostering a disgusting form of crony capitalism where the unions are let off the leash to screw over businesses who then cry poor to the government who gives them a subsidy which they split with the unions. Welcome to the servile state.

  18. ‘Rights’ are not outcomes you can force the state to guarantee: they are opportunities you can force the State to protect.

    A right to ‘free speech’, for example, doesn’t guarantee an outcome of free speech in all cases – it merely guarantees an opportunity for free speech. A right to own property does not guarantee that everyone will be able to afford everything, but it does guarantee that if you can afford something the State will protect your ownership.

    So Unique – do you have a right to buy a huge yacht and sail the seven seas?

    Of course you do: because nobody can legally prevent you from doing it.

  19. BTW Jeremy – as a matter of legal principal you can’t just “go to the High Court” can you?

    I thought the High Court could essentially pick and choose the cases it heard, and then only after they have been through the lower courts.

    Wouldn’t it be the Federal Court that heard constitutional complaints in the first instance?

  20. phyllis5tein

    “The High Court of Australia is able to deal with cases which come to it on appeal or which begin in the High Court itself.

    Cases which involve interpretation of the Constitution, or where the Court may be invited to depart from one of its previous decisions, or where the Court considers the principle of law involved to be one of major public importance, are normally determined by a full bench comprising all seven Justices if they are available to sit.

    Other cases which come to the High Court for final determination involve appeals against the decisions of the Supreme Courts of the States and Territories, of the Federal Court of Australia and of the Family Court of Australia and these are dealt with by a full court of not less than two Justices. In addition there are certain matters which can be heard and determined by a single Justice.”

    http://www.hcourt.gov.au/about/operation

  21. narcoticmusing

    Also of relevance here is if someone is suing the Commonwealth or a matter relates to proceedings against the Commonwealth it can be heard originally in the High Court.

  22. SB Its only the interference of the state in the market that stops me selling another human I manage to gain control of.

    “Talking about “capitalism” in a vague way doesn’t help much because it doesn’t have a very well-defined meaning:”

    I agree I was just having a rant.

    But the logical extension of laissez-faire free markets is that there is no limit or regulation on the sale of stuff. Including people. In fact it was the case for a long time, it still is the case (there is a worldwide slave trade, its just underground,) for some people (millions actually) and these days the only limit on the slave trade is the power of the state/govt. Today’s slave trade is dominated by criminals who traditionally have little regard for the limits of the state.

    “In fact it is in situations where there is no free market in labour that you get slavery and serfdom.”

    Slavery is dependent on a free market, serfdom is something all together different. Tho in practice its similar. Just are there are limits on access to a free market today the markets of the days when slavery was an accepted thing were free to those with access to enough resources.

    A free market is a situation where the limits on the interplay between supply and demand are minimised. Take that to its logical extreme and you get slavery.

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