Why is Gina Rinehart so hated?

Facebook profile for benjamin marks

Benjamin Marks defends Gina Rinehart, and argues the she is far more suitable to govern Australian than our current crop of politicians:

Gina Rinehart is so hated because her envious critics can only think up (or parrot) self-contradictory socialistic complaints. Here are nine standard criticisms of Gina Rinehart,alongside something the same critic would agree with that totally undermines their criticism:

  1. Gina Rinehart is selfish, greedy and cold-hearted; and, provides what others value highly, at a price they happily pay voluntarily.
  2. Gina Rinehart wants too much control of the media through voluntary means; and, government should stop her through coercive means.
  3. Gina Rinehart is unfairly rich; and, tax-recipients in Sydney-Melbourne-Canberra “deserve” resources she discovers, mines, sells and transports.
  4. Gina Rinehart’s mining activities are unsustainable; and, she should be taxed/donating more, rather than preserving and enlarging her capital.
  5. Gina Rinehart is evil wanting to employ people for below the minimum wage; and, there would be workers wanting such work.
  6. Gina Rinehart is a bit rich to complain about government when she could live in luxury without doing another day’s work; and, she does still work.
  7. Gina Rinehart should not want more influence; and, politicians are corrupt, incompetent, inefficient, populist and untrustworthy.
  8. Gina Rinehart is richer than almost everyone; and, almost all Australians are richer than most people; and, foreign aid has not succeeded against world poverty.
  9. Gina Rinehart’s politics, being consistent with her actions and source of wealth, canbe dismissed as self-interest; and, those who argue against what makes them wealthy cannot be dismissed as hypocrites.

So it is easy to imagine how ecstatic Gina Rinehart’s critics were to hear that her childrenappear to have substantive differences of opinion with her. Finally, the critics thought, here there must be something that will take a little longer than one sentence to refute and mock. In this article we will see how much mud sticks, if any; and how much longer than one sentence it will take to counter, if indeed it can be countered at all.

Is there a family dispute?

For many Australians, our legal system is more for entertainment than justice; that way, at least we get something out of it. Gambling is a popular Australian pastime, whether it be at the local or against the Crown. And there are quite a few of our countrymen who like to play (or gamble on) games where one adrenalin-charged sweaty player runs very fast, into others running very fast in the opposite direction, until they all end up on the ground — despite knowing that the media are likely to capture it and broadcast it around the nation and even the world. Sometimes the combatants make rough injury-causing physical contact and even exchange hurtful words. But just because this happens, is it really right to deduce that the players on different teams are enemies or don’t have high opinions of each other?

The press releases both sides churn out are meaningless to us, because we can’t tell the difference between genuine criticism and trash talking mind games with the opponent, crowd or referee for the purpose of winning the match, play or call.

The press releases both sides churn out are meaningless to us, because we can’t tell the difference between genuine criticism and trash talking mind games with the opponent, crowd or referee for the purpose of winning the match, play or call.

On top of all that, there’s the fact that Gina Rinehart, being a media owner, has a vested interest in creating news items that people want to read, and people love to read anything that feeds their envy.

I haven’t a clue what the situation is with the litigious/playful Rineharts, but I find it hard to believe that everyone else has inside knowledge; they’re just speculating and tapping shallow populist sentiments, especially envy.

If there is a family dispute, so what?

Anyway, assuming the media is right and Gina Rinehart really does not get along with three of her four children, the question arises: So what? Having difficult children, of itself, is neither unusual nor something Gina Rinehart deserves any criticism for. Many of the greatest of thinkers and communicators also had children who did not appreciate their parent’s most passionately held beliefs. Erasmus, one of the fathers of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, put forward an interesting theory to explain this common occurrence:

But admitting him [Marcus Aurelius, the greatest of statesmen] good, he did the commonwealth more hurt in leaving behind him such a son as he did than ever he did it good by his own government. For these kind of men that are so given up to the study of wisdom are generally most unfortunate, but chiefly in their children; Nature, it seems, so providently ordering it, lest this mischief of wisdom should spread further among mankind. For which reason it is manifest why Cicero’s son [Cicero being the greatest of orators] was so degenerate, and that wise Socrates’ children [Socrates being the greatest of philosophers], as one has well observed, were more like their mother than their father, that is to say, fools.1

Referencing this, Robert Burton, unanimously considered the best-read person in the history of the world, agreed. His 1621 masterpiece, The Anatomy of Melancholy, lists various historical and biblical figures and includes such observations as “wise men’s sons are commonly fools” and “scarce any great man has left a virtuous and active son”.2

The example and experience of Socrates has many parallels to the life and times of Lang Hancock and Gina Rinehart.

The example and experience of Socrates has many parallels to the life and times of Lang Hancock and Gina Rinehart. A difficult wife in Xanthippe (who no doubt had many redeeming features, like Rose Porteous), difficult children, and a will to martyrdom. Socrates famously could have escaped rather than become martyred. This is a perfect analogy with Gina Rinehart deciding to continue reinvesting in Australia, rather than flee overseas to countries with less sovereign risk, smarter citizens and better media commentators.

A more recent example of a family dispute is Rand Paul, who is the first United States Senator in history to serve alongside a parent in the United States House of Representatives. His father is free-market advocate Ron Paul, who is currently running for the Republican Presidential Nomination. Paul senior has attracted a huge, passionate and growing following, which is leading people to make all sorts of romantic predictions. But if Ron Paul is so likely to succeed, how is it that someone who owes Ron Paul so much — as a son does his father — and has been subjected to more of Ron Paul’s arguments than anyone else — namely, his most political child, Rand Paul — is far less principled than his father and many of his supporters who have such high expectations of where the Ron Paul movement will lead?3

I recently heard a speech at a free-market economics conference where a leading follower of the deceased free-market economist, Murray Rothbard, (who had no biological children), said that Rothbard’s followers can be considered his “children”, because they follow in his tradition.4 This is a clear case of (the word) “child” abuse, as it is false to draw an analogy between being a child and being in ideological agreement with your parents. The (sad) fact is: most of those who knew, read and were taught by Rothbard were not in ideological agreement with him.

In conclusion, the Rinehart family dispute, even if it is far worse than has been reported, does not give the envious socialistic mudslingers anything that sticks; their criticism continues to contain neither rhyme nor reason. Far from Gina Rinehart’s family troubles being a cause for criticism, they are actually a cause to compare her to Socrates and other heroic figures.

Incidentally, when Ron Manners, who is another great Australian mining industry hero, was criticised by his kids for spending so much time away from home drinking with his mining buddies, he chastised them with this beauty: “you only get one nickel boom in your lifetime, but you can always have more kids.”5 I don’t know whether I agree with that or with its sentiments, but it is such a funny line I couldn’t resist sharing it.

Is Gina Rinehart fit to rule?

Rather than complaining about the apparent influence she has, and the increased influence she wants, critics should keep in mind that she actually has a better right to run the country than any politician. Consider this passage from Frank Fetter:

The market is a democracy where every penny gives a right of vote. It is the thought of the society called “The Consumers’ league” that through purchases, pressure may be brought to bear upon the employer to provide better conditions of work. The members of The Consumers’ League refuse to buy goods not made under sanitary conditions. Undoubtedly there is here a great economic force which an enlightened public opinion, even without a formal association, can make in large measure effective. Every individual may organize a consumer’s league, leaguing himself with the powers of righteousness. Will he read a yellow journal or a pink or a white one? A nickel or two will buy either. He has a dollar; will he go to the theater or buy ten dishes of ice-cream? He decides to buy a book, and more type and paper are made, and more printers are employed; he subscribes to foreign missions and Christian workers penetrate farther into Africa. Every purchase has far-reaching consequences …

In many cases, little thought of as economic distribution, the authoritative method is followed. Literary and oratorical contests are passed upon by a set of judges whose opinion of merit determines the award. It is a poor method, often resulting in injustice (as every defeated candidate will admit) but it is the only way practicable for deciding such contests. Yet there are literary and oratorical contests decided very differently. If a man advertises himself as an orator and charges fifty cents admission to his lecture, everyone who goes to hear the man votes that he is an orator; everyone having money but staying away votes that he is not of such value. The one is judgment by the authoritative, the other by the competitive, method. The essence of the method of distributing by authority is that one individual (or group of individuals) judges of the deserts or duties of others, decides what others must get or must pay, not what he himself is willing to pay.6

It is the government and its supporters who are trying to distribute their ideas through the use of force. Gina Rinehart has the much harder and more useful job of distributing her ideas in a voluntary manner. This is expanded on by Murray Rothbard:

It may be objected that, while the average voter may not be competent to decide on issues that require chains of [economic] reasoning, he is competent to pick the experts — the politicians — who will decide on the issues, just as the individual may select his own private expert adviser in any one of numerous fields. But the critical problem is precisely that in government the individual has no direct, personal test of success or failure of his hired expert such as he has in the market. On the market, individuals tend to patronize those experts whose advice is most successful. Good doctors or lawyers reap rewards on the free market, while poor ones fail; the privately hired expert flourishes in proportion to his ability. In government, on the other hand, there is no market test of the expert’s success. Since there is no direct test in government, and, indeed, little or no personal contact or relationship between politician or expert and voter, there is no way by which the voter can gauge the true expertise of the man he is voting for. As a matter of fact, the voter is in even greater difficulties in the modern type of issueless election between candidates who agree on all fundamental questions than he is in voting on issues. For issues, after all, are susceptible to reasoning; the voter can, if he wants to and has the ability, learn about and decide on the issues. But what can any voter, even the most intelligent, know about the true expertise or competence of individual candidates, especially when elections are shorn of all important issues? The only thing that the voter can fall back on for a decision are the purely external, advertised “personalities” of the candidates, their glamorous smiles, etc. The result is that voting purely on candidates is bound to be even less rational than voting on the issues themselves.

Not only does government lack a successful test for picking the proper experts, not only is the voter necessarily more ignorant than the consumer, but government itself has other inherent mechanisms which lead to poorer choices of experts and officials. For one thing, the politician and the government expert receive their revenues, not from service voluntarily purchased on the market, but from a compulsory levy on the inhabitants. These officials, then, wholly lack the direct pecuniary incentive to care about servicing the public properly and competently. Furthermore, the relative rise of the “fittest” applies in government as in the market, but the criterion of “fitness” is here very different. In the market, the fittest are those most able to serve the consumers. In government, the fittest are either (1) those most able at wielding coercion or (2) if bureaucratic officials, those best fitted to curry favor with the leading politicians or (3) if politicians, those most adroit at appeals to the voting public.7

As long as the voting public is filled with envy, politicians will continue to act destructively, and at Gina Rinehart’s expense. Even if she is sinful, and I’m not convinced that she is, her sins pale against those of her critics; as Cardan said: “Other sins last but for a while — the gut may be satisfied, anger remits, hatred hath an end — but envy never ceaseth.”8

Originally published at Economics.org.au, and reproduced with permission. Benjamin Marks is editor of Economics.org.au and author of Mencken's Conservatism. This piece was originally published here