Having a half hour to kill before an appointment last night I chose to listen to BBC Radio 4's "The Moral Maze". Like most BBC programming this starts from the premise that we need the state to do something about something. The usual manipulative words were duly rolled out. "We" (the state) should be "concerned" (look for an opportunity to regulate) about something that "researchers" (taxpayer funded state action apologists) are "concerned about" (this should justify even more taxpayer funded research).
This particular episode was concerned with the "role of censorship". The usual arguments were trotted out and I guess the idea was to demonstrate with some of the BBC's most highly regarded intellectuals what a tough job the political class has with the intellectual shakings and stirrings involved in coming up with appropriate regulations. They showed that some people disapprove of pornography and violence in films and that others enjoy it or don't consider it to be harmeful. Others do consider it harmful and in fact dangerous. Oh what to do. What to do.
Of course the elephant in the room on the radio was the unquestioned assumption that "we" (the state) must do something about it. Now if this had been a conversation amongst free people who were not looking to impose their conclusions, should they come to any, on the rest of the population by threat of violence there could have been just as wide a range of opinions on the rightness and wrongness of the various issues and they could have each respected the others and gone with their own freely arrived at strategies of persuading other people about the virtues of their particular view of things. No need for a moral maze at all.
I have a great subject for them to debate though. How about "Why shouldn't the public be allowed to pay the BBC whatever they think it is worth?"
Walt Williams again. If a white man, such as Walter Block - see below, had given such a talk he would have been branded a racist and a sexist. If you watch both videos you will find that is indeed what happened.
This guy is warm, funny, sane and well worth listening to.
... by J.L. Bryan is a dystopia type story similar in many respects to Orwell's "1984" but with a more libertarian slant. It is available as a free pdf file from here and I highly recommend it.
I'm not going to give a full review as I personally prefer just to recommend it. If you've read many of my other postings you know where I'm coming from.
I found it to be a real page turner that I read in two sittings. It has a few really good lines in it and the following is an example.
“Let them go,” the bearded man said.
“But there could be a bounty—” Rico protested.
“Shut up.” One of the older bandits cut him off.
“We at least oughta siphon some gas,” another bandit said.
“Quiet,” the bearded man said. “I served four years in the Marines, in the old world. We
talked about something called honor. You brats don’t even know what the word means.”
“Sure,” Rico spoke up. “My uncle told me, greed and honor. Greed is killing someone
else for your own profit. Honor is when you kill for someone else’s greed, and they keep the
This reform is incredibly simple yet amazingly far reaching and powerful. It was inspired by listening to James Whale's talk show on Monday. He wanted to know why those who complained didn't vote to do something about it. I had a great deal of agreement with him on this. This is not a wholly original idea but is perhaps an unusual presentation of it.
After listening to many of the responses and from other conversations I've had with friends and people I meet day to day I have come to the following conclusions about where I believe most people outside of government and the public sector are at;
1. They don't like the way our current form of government works. They don't feel like they have any power to correct it and are pretty much in apathy over the whole thing.
2. They don't vote in elections for reasons to do with number 1 above. This is coupled with the fact that the only way to "kick the bastards out" in our current system is by electing another bunch of bastards to take over.
3. We are not taught that "spoiling a ballot paper" does get counted as spoiled ballots. If you can't bring yourself to vote for the lesser evil there is still a point in voting. We aren't given the option of "None of the above" as such, but we can cross out all the names and simply write that on the sheet. The vote is counted as a spoilt ballot which is better than not being counted at all.
Most of us believe that democracy means we have a say. Unfortunately that isn't all it means. It also means rule by the majority of those who vote. As there are no areas of economic or other aspects of life that politicians do not feel comes into their area of jurisdiction that means that what freedoms we still have left are by no means guaranteed. In fact it is inevitable they will be continuously eroded. It leads to a multitude of false claims and deliberate manipulation of facts by those with vested interests in political outcomes. Indeed a "political outcome" essentially means having to fool some groups and buy off others.
Democracy, as we have it, is a classic divide and conquer mechanism. Far from bringing about a classless society it continuously creates new classes of us against them. The rich against the poor. Women against men. Blacks against whites. Gays against straights, etc. We are constantly clamoured to adopt one or more of such groups as part of our "identity". Yet there is little if any need for us to do so. Most of the justifications given us are false and self serving to those who promote them. But that is not the subject of this post.
So to the solution. It is startlingly simple and very democratic in the sense that we each have a real say in how our lives are run and who has control over our money. No part of government can raise any money for any purpose other than by voluntary contributions from the population. They cannot borrow from banks and they cannot print money nor have it printed for them. They have to compete in the same way that those of us who currently pay for government have to compete. That is it. The whole solution. Nothing else is needed.
Before dismissing it give it some thought. Yes of course this means that government will not have the budget that it currently does. What would this mean apart from having to cut back it's never satiated ambitions? For one thing it would mean that there isn't the support from the public that is claimed. And that would mean it is not in the interest of enough of the public to support the proposition. So it wouldn't have any so called mandate anyway.
And of course that means there will be cuts in their "services". There weren't that many who were in favour of going to war in Iraq or elsewhere. Yes of course those businesses who make arms were in favour but if they didn't have the taxpayers to foot the bill could war be as profitable. I think not. Yes there will be all manner of other problems that might be perceived at first glance but at least try and think it through. What does it mean politically if there is too little money raised to fund a bank bailout? Does it mean the end of civilisation as we know it or just the end of a corrupt business and thus allowing those funds to go to other places that are valued higher?
There are some obvious questions this will raise from those who probably won't give it much thought. What about the poor? What about the roads? What about defence? I am not suggesting abolishing anyone's desire to help the poor. We will still need roads and defence. And if we need them we will figure out how to provide them in the same way we figure out how to provide shoes and lifeboat services.
The poor are not helped by welfare programmes that create dependency on the state. They are certainly not helped by being led to believe they are entitled to the hard earned pay of others. They could be helped into productive activity by private charities which are not paid according to how little they achieve. The same applies to many other government "services".
There is lots more I could say on this and probably will but I want to put this up sooner rather than later.