Liberals against self-interest?

Peter van Onselen rightly points out the vacuousness of political parties touting obvious goals, like prosperity, as if they were policy (‘Self-interest proves strongest motivator’, The Australian, 18/12). However, in the process he incidentally exposes a moral conceit at the heart of market-liberalism.

That regulated labor markets are a barrier to prosperity is an article of faith among market-liberals, despite the many counter-examples around the world.

So, to a market-liberal, a party that doesn’t deregulate the labor market is not motivated by prosperity, but the greedy self-interest of the voters, who refuse to sacrifice themselves for the good of the market.

Although he doesn’t say so, it sounds as if van Onselen yearns for system where the purity of the market could unfold without the pesky self-interest of the population, expressed through the ballot-box, getting in the way.

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