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No more heroes anymore

If there were ever an annual Ayn Rand award, here in the UK, for Britain’s most outstanding business leader, then a recent contender could easily have been Tim Martin, the founder and chairman of the JD Wetherspoon chain of pubs. He created this chain from virtually nothing, in 1979, and built it into one of the largest leisure businesses in the country. Which is remarkable.

But being a former law student he has fallen into the trap of believing that if a law is passed by a legislature then this automatically makes it a good thing. Because he has just called for a smoking ban to be imposed upon all the privately owned pubs and bars in Britain, following Ireland’s recent heavy-handed example.

Now I have no problem with Mr Martin banning smoking in all of his own pubs. But like all the best hypocrites Mr Martin has no intention of doing this, because he realises he will lose too much business to his competition. But this hypocrisy has failed to prevent him from wishing to inflict his own intolerant views upon every other private bar owner and pub smoker in the country.

Which does beg the following question: Are there any truly successful business people here in Britain who we libertarians could actually hold up and respect as role models for the future? Or is it simply impossible in Nanny State Britain for any big business leader to be successful without being mentally flexible enough to accommodate the sinuous and relentless needs of our slave controllers in government?

I need a hero to worship. Does anybody have one?

44 comments to No more heroes anymore

  • The problem is that successful entrepreneurs didn’t get where they are today by voicing minority opinions. Those guys sail with the prevailing winds. If and when Libertarian ideas gain in the ascendency ( and its surely a matter of weeks rather than years now ) then all these Captains of Industry will be running around, ridiculing the state, and proudly showing off all their dusty old copies of Hayek.

  • Front4uk

    Minority opinnions still count if they are backed up by REAL money. Successful businesmen didn’t become successful by running a charityshop. So I think the relationship with business and government works both way.

  • Most of the time I go to the pub, its a Witherspoons. It is one of the few political acts I do and it is a positive one. Instead of boycotting, I am procotting.

  • Tedd McHenry

    Are there any truly successful business people here in Britain who we libertarians could actually hold up and respect as role models for the future? Or is it simply impossible in Nanny State Britain for any big business leader to be successful without being mentally flexible enough to accommodate the sinuous and relentless needs of our slave controllers in government?

    When the jurisdiction I live in imposed a ban on smoking in pubs it was sold to the public on the basis of the rights of pub workers. Tobacco smoke was declared a workplace hazard. The workplace hazard meme was popularized by media interviews with (and soft stories about) pub employees. And, naturally, this media coverage focused on the largest and best-known pubs and chains of pubs.

    So Mr. Martin has probably simply decided to strike pre-emptively. He might be thinking: If the ban is going to happen anyway, and if I’m going to get a lot of press out of it anyway, let’s ensure the press coverage is as positive as possible under the circumstances.

    Although many (perhaps most) people support libertarian ideals when they are presented theoretically (should people take responsibility for their choices in life?), far fewer do when the ideals are presented in concrete form (should pub workers who dislike tobacco smoke find different work?). I suspect this is a cause of the “nanny state,” as opposed to a consequence of it. In a sense, Mr. Martin is being apolitical, by simply responding to the political environment in which his business operates in the way that he believes best serves his business. It’s up to the voters to decide the merits of his case; unfortunately, that decision isn’t likely to be made on libertarian principles.

  • Oh Dear. What a pity it turns out that the promising Mr. Martin is really just the same old statist scum as the rest of them.

    It is generally pointless looking to businessmen to be libertarian ‘heros’, they are nearly all compromised in some way and will quite happily campaign for legislation to shore up their positions and advantages.

    Anyway it is an error to suppose that libertarianism has some special connection with business, it doesn’t. Rothbard did well in exposing this particular fallacy of Rand’s.

  • Kit Taylor

    One expects Kevin Carson to pop up telling us how most of the buggers dump the cost of crucial infrastructure and worker education on the taxpayer, and are naught but scroungers and millionaire welfare bums.

    Alas, he has a point.

  • Andy Duncan

    Paul Coulam writes:

    Rothbard did well in exposing this particular fallacy of Rand’s

    Yes, he did seem to enjoy deviating from the holy truth of Objectivism! ;-)

  • Johnathan Peace

    Shame. Andrew Ian Dodge (see his comment above) and I have frequented these pubs plenty of times. I like the partial smoking bans, which strike me as a great example of private property owners setting rules to suit their clientele. That this guy is now calling for blanket coercion of other property owners is sad.

    Alas, I would imagine it impossible to find a businessman or woman in Britain who is a consistent libertarian. When is the last time one heard of a businessman who turned down something like a subsidy on principle? Anyone know?

  • toolkien

    Businessmen are pragmatists. For many (or most) if the can gain an advantage through Statism they will. The bigger the fish, the more they can withstand regulation, and the happier they’ll be when the State implements it and all but eliminates the weaker competition in one fell swoop.

    Here in the US, the Government deals with private enterprise in making goods and services for the State, and grow fat on Government contracts. Once again, as I’ve said many times, the Government does provide Good, it’s just a matter of who and why. They also produce an offsetting Bad, on whom they can pile it without the threat of recourse. And if that means futzing with the mill rate on Property Taxes, or simply raise the assessment, so that the local construction companies can get a little extra for their eternal road work, so be it. To my cynical mind, there are simply too many pigs who want their nose in the trough, and there aren’t near enough libertarians in business. Perhaps because they pay taxes they feel they are simply evening everything out by exploiting the system to their advantage, but it still has to run through a bureaucrat coming and going.

    Until everyone, as an individual or as part of an association, pushes to asphyxiate the State at the source (don’t transfer resources to it, it’ll only encourage it), it simply will grow and grow. Realize that for every Good you get, there is a Bad, likely placed on a source that can’t do or say anything about it, and perhaps even yourself, though the smoke and mirrors of State ‘accounting’ pushes well over the horizon so you can’t see it.

    When it’s all said and done, and one looks at the reality of the level of Statism in our lives, it must still be a product of all of additive value judgements – we get the government we deserve, it’s still a product of everything we’ve done or decided not to do. There are too many people looking for some net Good from a source that can’t provide it, and bicker with each other as if the others are the ones responsible for their particular Utopia not having emerged. We need to be more vocal and try and change the culture as best we can.

  • Johnathan Peace (sic) writes:

    Alas, I would imagine it impossible to find a businessman or woman in Britain who is a consistent libertarian. When is the last time one heard of a businessman who turned down something like a subsidy on principle? Anyone know?

    Actually I wouldn’t condemn a businessman for taking a subsidy as being inconsistent with libertarianism. Accepting free gifts from people is not wrong, knowingly accepting stolen property is of course to be condemned, but it is probably true to say that in most instances the subsidy accepted amounts to less than the money extorted from the business in the first place and by accepting a subsidy then the business man is just clawing back some of his own stolen property.

    This is probably not true of the very large corporations and professions who are hand in glove with the government though.

    Anyway accepting a subsidy is one thing; choosing to campaign for subsidies and extra regulations is quite another. It is perfectly licit for a businessman to campaign for a reduction in his taxes not to go demanding the trampling of other peoples property rigths. This is what Martin has done. His crime is very great and his punishment should be correspondingly severe. Personally I hope he is plunged into bankruptcy as swiftly as possible.

  • Verity

    Andy, a very interesting thread. May I propose the Chief Executive of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary who doesn’t like governments or supranational organisations. He took over a failing airline that was headed for the knacker’s yard and turned it into what will, in two or three years, become the largest airline in Europe. Meantime, I read that he has amassed around £500m in personal fortune.

    At presentations to financial analysts, he is known to turn the air blue with the candour of his language.

    Jonathan, I don’t know, but I have a feeling, from what I’ve read, that he would be likely to turn down a subsidy on principle. He’s too independent to be beholden or have people attaching strings to him.

  • Dale Amon

    Pragmatism was mentioned and that is a key to understanding those of us who make our living running businesses or as independant consultants.

    The goal of business is to maximize income. It is competition every bit as rugged as biological competition for an environmental niche. The species (or company) that survives does so by outperforming its competitors. If government grants and subsidies are part of the environment, then competition will drive all to use them to the maximum possible extent… the ones who don’t will be marginalized, bought out or go out of business.

    Business is survival. Business is judging reality better than the next guy and utilizing the tools at hand more efficiently than anyone else.

    Business is *not* philosophy. It’s more like warfare where the dead and wounded are legal entities rather than individuals.

  • I hope to start a meme soon:

    Many people complain about government. Why don’t people take the same action settlers did in the 16th & 17th century and start a new nation?

    I understand you shouldn’t have to do it, it would require plenty of money and infrastructure, and most people don’t want to leave.

    BUT, I think a more concrete version of the US constitution would be interesting, where the limited power of government is even MORE explicit.

    I would imagine if you reflected Friedman’s idea of no corporate taxes (or of a different form), flat tax rates, Bill of Rights style of civil freedoms, etc., many people would find it highly attractive. The costs would be government operation, police & the courts, reasonable military defense, and a limited voucher system for education (to keep the populace informed – a requirement of a healthy democracy).

    On another thought, why doesn’t a business that provides these services exist? Sort of like outsourcing government, or establishing a standard. Considering one of the biggest problems in the 3rd world is unreasonable rule of law, lacking private property rights, and improper accounting practices, I would think a banana republic would be very interested in an established firm to take care of government. Then you could even have competing government, and there would be incentive for effisciency.

    It’s just an idea, which I will formalize soon, including a limited feasibility study.

    Any thoughts?

  • DSpears

    I think expecting businesses in general to pursue pure libertarian goals is equally as misguided as expecting them to pursue leftist, “liberal”, or socialistic goals.

    Businesses are in business to make money, period. Not to advance agendas or make political statements or the like. To expect anything more of them is to mistake their purpose in the world.

    For instance, the fact that businesses in (America at least) have been the most consistent pushers of political correctness should come as no surprise. Fear of profit sapping lawsuits drives this development. If you work for a major company in America, chances are you have taken a mandatory course (or more likely courses) in “diversity”, “harassment” or some other politically correct agenda. This is not because General Electric and Microsoft have any legitimate need to spend stockholder dollars on these issues per se’. They just don’t want to get sued.

    Are most big businesses in the world in bed with their and other respective governments? Of course. Is corruption, bribery and the like common in all major countries in the world? Of course. Do businesses get in bed with local politicians and lobby (bribe?) them to enact legislation that will help them make money and hopefully cause their competition to make less money? Of course. Is regulation of business really just a neat scheme to gain this favorable regulation? Of course. Why? for the same reason that John Dillenger robbed banks: Cause that’s where the money is.

    But I think blaming businesses for this is misplaced. They are only fulfilling their responsibilities to their stockholders and owners: to make money.

    The government on the other hand is supposed to be above such corruption. It has much more lofty and contradictory responsibilities. If government uses it’s powers to further the fortunes of some of the people at the expense of the rest of the people it is derelict in it’s responsibilities.

    The Brib-EE is much more culpable than the Brib-ER.

    The only answer to this problem is a less powerful government. Nobody bothers to bribe government officials who have no power.

  • J-man

    How about Angle-Grinder man?

  • Verity

    Ivan – Why don’t people take the same action settlers did in the 16th & 17th century and start a new nation?

    Where?

    Considering one of the biggest problems in the 3rd world is unreasonable rule of law, lacking private property rights, and improper accounting practices, I would think a banana republic would be very interested in an established firm to take care of government.

    And the banana republic dictator would be delighted to welcome you aboard to wreck his life. Why not give Castro and Mugabe a call and get their inputs on this idea?

  • Andrew

    Verity,

    I hate to burst your bubble, but Ryanair rely heavily on subsidies from state-owned airports in the EU to support their low fares (and hence entire business model). He’s hardly a libertarian hero on that ground, despite his attitudes to the state.

    Regards

  • Verity

    Andrew – You haven’t burst my bubble. Ryanair doesn’t rely on subsidies from state-owned airports in Europe at all. It’s the opposite, which is why the courts in Europe, especially France, are finding against Ryanair.

    Ryanair does (did; the iron fist of the EU has put an end to it) deals with chambers of commerce. Like Perignan, say, or Strasbourg. In return for a promise to deliver 500,000 tourists over five years, for example (which they knew they could do because their fares were so cheap), they squeezed concessions out of the local airports for handling charges. These were business deals between an airline and chambers of commerce that were acting in the best interests of their local merchant members.

    As soon as the French courts and then other European courts got involved, the deals were doomed, capitalism being not only outside their ken, but derided as being somehow selfish and non-inclusive. But I believe it was state-subsidised Air France that brought the original suit.

  • Andy Duncan

    Hi Verity,

    I’m afraid I’ve had my fingers burned on Mr O’Leary before. You might want to try these two related threads, before continuing down the Ryanair track:

    The Ayn Rand awards

    Which was swiftly followed by:

    Why I never fly Ryanair

    Ah, the slings and arrows of outrageous corporate fortune! ;-)

    Rgds,
    AndyD

  • Andy Duncan

    Ivan Kirigin writes:

    BUT, I think a more concrete version of the US constitution would be interesting, where the limited power of government is even MORE explicit.

    Can you get any more explicit than this?:

    these truths to be self-evident: that all men are
    created equal; that they are endowed by their creator
    with inalienable rights; that among these are
    life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: that to
    secure these rights, governments are instituted
    among men, deriving their just powers from the
    consent of the governed; that whenever any form
    of government becomes destructive of these ends,
    it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,
    and to institute new government, laying its foundation
    on such principles, and organizing its powers
    in such form as to them shall seem most likely
    to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence
    indeed will dictate that governments long established
    should not be changed for light and transient
    causes; and accordingly all experience has
    shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer
    while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves
    by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
    But when a long train of abuses and
    usurpations pursuing invariably the same object,
    evinces a design to reduce them under absolute
    despotism, it is in their right, it is their duty to
    throw off such government, and to provide new
    guards for their future security.

    As an increasingly confirmed anarchist, I feel there is no way you can ever limit the growth of a state, except by destroying it, like a malevolent virus, and then wiping out every re-emergence of it. How statist exactly does the US govt have to become before enough Americans feel they can use Jefferson’s thoughts above to throw off its chains?

    But don’t let an old sourpuss like me put you off.

    It’s just an idea, which I will formalize soon, including a limited feasibility study. Any thoughts?

    Get your ideas written up, and then try to get them on a blog, or start up your own blog, to publicize them? Contact Samizdata, at the time, and see if you can get one of our editors interested in them? If it’s a good enough meme, it’ll soon publicize itself.

    Good luck! ;-)

    laters, ad.

  • Andy,

    Drat, you are making me feel like I am Lucy telling Linus there is no Great Pumpkin.

    You will just have to be your own hero.

  • I need a hero to worship. Does anybody have one?

    How about that libertarian entrepreneur Andy Duncan?

  • The US constitution has some flexibility that leaves it ripe for abuse. Clauses using phrases like “regulate interstate commerce”, “necessary and proper”, and “general welfare” are far too vague.

    There exists a fairly discrete list of matters which must be done by government: operation, legal (police/courts/jails), defense, (maybe) education (funding only). The idea of enumerated powers, where a government does not have a power unless explicitly granted, while not vague is far too easy to abuse.

    As for where: a poor enough nation with enough land would be a fine candidate. A city-state would probably fit best with enumerated powers anyway, where there is no one to pass the buck. The only requirement would have to be autonomy, which can be purchased in a corrupt area anyway, and enforced with superior firepower.

    There are a few cases of countries that want reform. Qatar is one. Peru is another. My knowledge isn’t deep on these topics, and good ideas are usually ruined by demagogues, but I think there are possible candidates.

    In case you think from this discussion that my ideas are crazy, I assure you I realize their nature. Here is my blog, in its current form, where the ideas are usually more reasonable: while-true(Link).

    The politics & robotics will probably fork into different blogs soon enough.

  • toolkien

    I agree with Mr. Duncan that Statism spreads and grows, But I still believe that States are necessary, and if nothing else, I allow pragmatism to enter the thought process and concede one will exist whether I want one or not. The only thing left for an individual to do is to try and present arguments for its limitations. Hopefully, when a new order is established, it will adhere to the thought processes in vogue in the revolutionary period of the the US. It sets the level so much lower, that when the State grows, as it inevitably will, that it will be a much longer period before the next revolution (or attempt) is necessary.

    Jefferson saw tyranny as an inevitability, and revolution as its counterpoint. Jefferson foresaw the need for revolution in the US in about 50 years after its establishment. 80 years later we had a Civil War. We’ve had unrest since then, but were still occupied with consolidation and expansion. allowing for safety valves for excess populations, and enough freedom to keep relative peace. The last 80 years or so, since relative stabilization of settlements and expansion, the State has risen dizzyingly fast. We went from a capitalist nation to a socialist nation without a shot being fired. Perhaps when the bureaucrats come to us to ‘payback’ on the ‘loans’, and measure up what we thought was our equity, the time will come to finally establish the new order.

    Regardless, one has to bear the existence of States, and anarchism is an ideal, just like one of its other guises, communism. It is just as ideal as the ‘perfect States’ that Statist must keep in their minds to keep them chugging along in their Good Works. Bear its existence, work peacefully in reducing it, battle to establish a new order and eliminate tyranny for a period of time, hopefully a long time, when the necessity presents itself.

  • …there is no way you can ever limit the growth of a state, except by destroying it…

    But how?

    I have a nasty feeling that destroying a state (in such a way that it will be replaced with anarcho-capitalism, or whatever you favour) is just as intractable a problem as limiting its growth.

  • The US constitution has some flexibility that leaves it ripe for abuse. Clauses using phrases like “regulate interstate commerce”, “necessary and proper”, and “general welfare” are far too vague.

    More than that. They are a tyrant’s wet dream. The Constitution is a document of government empowerment.

    There exists a fairly discrete list of matters which must be done by government: operation, legal (police/courts/jails), defense, (maybe) education (funding only).

    There are few reasons against security and legal adjudication being provided by the market, and they pale in comparison to the inevitable tyranny that all states result in.

  • Like toolkien mentioned in his first post, the biggest thing I see in this story is the attempt, by one successful business, to use the power of the state to impose onerous regulations on their competitors. The calculated position being that it will hurt the competition far more than it hurts them. If the regulation potential is there, people will attempt to game it in their favor. They may or not be statists by temperament (although by definition they are, they may not be looking at it that way), but they do recognize where sources of power are. If the state has that much power, they’ll use it.

  • There are few reasons against security and legal adjudication being provided by the market, and they pale in comparison to the inevitable tyranny that all states result in.

    There is only one “law of the land”. You can’t have two or more. How do you propse adjudication between two groups that follow different sets of laws? Whose law is right? One body must make laws, and they must be enforced. Maybe the police, like education, can be a market mechanism with citizen vouchers. But certainly the courts can not be part of the market. The potential for corruption is just too great. Government oversight over a single court is essential.

    Civilian control of the military means that the one body that makes laws and enforces them must also control the military. Otherwise, an invasion by a foreign body would consist of “dumping” cheap security on the market, eliminating competitors, then instituting martial law.

    With the free immigration that would be part of an ideal society, this would be fairly straightforward.

    Also, if there develops a trend to have competitive government enterprises, tyranny could be eliminated by recalling the government with a super-majority of votes. All states ending in tyranny isn’t bad if the cost of replacement of the state is small.

  • Jonathan Wilde

    There is only one “law of the land”. You can’t have two or more. How do you propose adjudication between two groups that follow different sets of laws? Whose law is right? One body must make laws, and they must be enforced. Maybe the police, like education, can be a market mechanism with citizen vouchers. But certainly the courts can not be part of the market. The potential for corruption is just too great. Government oversight over a single court is essential.

    There have been societies with polycentric legal systems before. It is much easier to have corruption under a monopolistic government than under market-based ones. And when I say “market”, I mean the real deal market, not the socialist rationing coupons called “vouchers”.

    Rather than hijack this thread, I will give you a link that goes over some basic ideas about polycentric law:

    POLICE, COURTS, AND LAWS—ON THE MARKET

    Or we can continue this discussion over email.

  • DSpears

    With all this talk of statism, the suppression of rights by the state, and the need to get rid of it, several mentions of public education as a legitimate role of government have me puzzled.

    Why is state controlled or state funded (funded IS controlled) education seen as a fundamental function of government? The US Constitution certainly makes no mention of it. Of all of the things that Libertarians get worked up over, many of them I find trivial, state funding of education is as legitimate of a concern to me as anything else modern governments control. Public education is the strongest method available for government indoctrination from an early age (the Hitler youth example is the easiest extreme example).

    I can’t even begin to list the number of things I learned in school that had to be overcome just to begin thinking like a Libertarian, a process that has taken me over a decade. Regardless of the details, in public school in America we were taught that government is a good thing that can make everybody’s life better, and lack of government action is almost criminal, inviting “bad people” to do “bad things” without being brought to justice. I’m still amazed after 12 years of public education and 4 more of college (thankfully for me at a relatively conservative University) that I could stumble into becoming a Libertarian at all.

    When people talk of writing a new, better Constitution why is public funding of education a proper government function? Was the lack of public education in much of America during the first 100 years of the US a key ingredient for keeping the government small and relatively unintrusive? Poeple of that time weren’t as uneducated as most people think, so it’s not the same argument that most couldn’t read, write and do math.

    It would be an interesting debate.

  • Government funded education for all has its merits. Go to my recent blog post (Link) for my reasons.

  • Guy Herbert

    What toolkien said… and,

    In my experience most successful entrepreneurs have no interest whatsoever in abstract reflection or points of principle. They didn’t get where they are today by wasting time on that sort of thing. They can however fake it–and will believe wholeheartedly in the surface meaning of whatever principle they are propounding to justify their actions and/or undermine their opponents’ at the time.

    Sorry Andy, but the model of a great business leader is something like Tony Blair with the conformist power-hunger replaced by anarchic cupidity. (See of you can tell the difference between TB and Branson with your eyes shut.)

    Have you forgotten Adam Smith? “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” It is competition that makes capitalism cater to society’s needs and therefore a Good Thing, not the moral worth of its agents.

    The search for capitalist heroes–if (as it seems) you have the romantic conception of a hero as someone who triumphs because of their goodness, because they express some eternal truth and moral value–is as doomed as the search for heroes of socialism. The difference is socialism requires people to be paragons. Capitalism does just fine with venial human beings.

  • Verity

    OK, Andy. Michael O’Leary is not a nice man.

    Guy – I always thought Bliar and Richard Branson were soulmates.

  • Nuno

    He may have been “inspired” by the Irish law, but the fact is that he made the decision on a personal choice basis about his pubs, not because the State told him so.

    Why is that not libertarian? He’s just catering to a special part of the market.

  • Verity

    Andy – What about the late Paul Getty? He shared your passion for cricket … Actually, though, I think it was his father who made the money and he inherited it. The second generation is usually gentler. The ones who went out and made the fortune are the bastards.

  • A. Hitler

    I agree with Tim Martin. Say you have a great idea but it’s not catching on fast enough and a lot of people are holding out against implementing your idea… does anybody know a better way to impress your will on everyone else than to pass a law and vigorously enforce it? Back it up with the full force of the state if you have to. The important thing is that people are made to do it your way.

  • DSpears

    Ivan, you posted:

    “Funding does not equal control, as least not fundamentally. If the system worked that it was an individual’s choice of schools without a stipulation of government determined “accreditation”, all control would be in the hands of the individuals.”

    Funding DOES equal control, when the government controls the money they control what it is spent on, who gets it, and how it is spent. This is a fundamental principal in all Libertarian thought. I’m not aware of any government in the history of the world that has taken money from the citizenry and then redistributed blindly without any strings attached or requirements about who gets what. It’s like the old proverb about the frog and the scorpion (“It is in my nature”).

    The only way for the control to be in the “hands of the individuals” is if the individuals spend their own money free of coercion. Spending other people’s money creates a whole set of circumstances that are familiar and predictable because they have been repeated over and over again throughout history.

    “Increased funding for any program can be enforced by constitutional mandate to not exceed inflation + population growth, the government would tie its own hands to provide education at a reasonable level, guaranteed.”

    That sounds nice but in practice who gets to decide what the inflation rate really is and how much the population has grown? These are debatable numbers (especially inflation which has many definitions) which can be manipulated by whoever gets to decided them to favor their position. I can promise without a doubt that the way that “inflation” is calculated would be constantly revised as to require more spending. It is inevitable.

    Who gets to decide what a “reasonable level” is? Is a high school diploma “reasonable”? A Bachelor’s degree? What if one level of education is “reasonable” for one person but not for another? What if somebody demands more funding for eductaion than is “reasonable”? Again, what criteria do the decision makers use? These are all very nebulous terms that can have many different definitions. In order to have an “automatic” system like this requires that the definitions be incredibly rigid and specific, probably impossibly so.

    “A review every decade or so could give an optional boost in the level of funding if some larger increase is needed, but this might not be a good idea.”

    A review by whom? Wouldn’t this “review” be a golden opportunity for one faction (especially one that is particularly popular at the time of the review) to skew the funding in a way that benefits them?

    Your “new”constitution would most likely play out just like the one we have now: It would start out being followed religiously (for about a week) then people would inevitably start interpreting it in ways that advance their agendas. Which is exactly what happened in America from 1787 to the present.

    I’m not trying to rip your idea to shreads here, but I honestly think you have misunderstood what a Constitution can and can’t achieve. I think the COnstitution is a great (but flawed like all human creations) document and is worth fighting for, but no Constitution no matter how brilliantly written can stop the people and their representatives from using the government to further their own ends if that is what they want to do.

    The task of bringing about a limited “Libertarian” government is much, much more difficult than just writing a new document. All of the people who are governed by that doecument must agree that the things in it are worth preserving. If a majority of the people decide that they want a strong government that furthers their goals at the expense of the goals of other less populous citizens then no piece of paper can stop that.

    If you want a the government to be more like the one the Founding Fathers laid out (which Founding Fathers vision do you want, Hamilton? Madison? Jefferson? They’re all different) then the only real solution is that you have to convince a majority of the people that this is the best way to do things. We have the government we have now for the precise reason that most people don’t find it objectionable enough to get rid of it. Many even like it. Many others wish it were even stronger. You have a long hard road convincing these people to vote with you.

    A very difficult task ahead.

  • I need a hero to worship. Does anybody have one?

    I would normally be too modest to apply for this job but nobody seems to coming up with anything better.

  • ernest young

    It’s not heros we need, it’s icons, people who we can look up to and admire. People whose example we can follow, people we can have faith in, who can be relied on not to let us down. Someone ‘down to earth’, but at the same time, someone who we can look up to.

    Even broadening the field to include all walks of life, does not make it any easier to find a suitable candidate.

    Sports stars, pop stars, film stars, tv stars, self-delusional and wannabe stars, hard to find one among that lot.

    Politicians, statesmen(?), businessmen and entrepreneurs, philanthropists, misanthropists, mysogonists, and minanarchists, no standouts there either.

    How about religious icons?, about the only one there would be the Pope, and even he would have restricted appeal, particularly in the UK and Europe. But then, I suppose, an icon does not have to have universal appeal, he could be an icon to just one person, just as valid in the overall scheme of things.

    By chance I saw one today who may qualify, well, for me anyway, an elderly fellow, been in the public eye for more than fifty years.

    Bit of a sportsman, always a gentleman, and somehow, in spite of being the most successful in his field, never seemed to lose the common touch, finding time to shake a strangers hand, or to give a ten year old lad a friendly pat on the back, always seeming to have respect for those in his company. No airs and graces here.

    Most of all, he always seemed to enjoy everything he did, and in doing so, gave pleasure to those that had come to see him perform. Never heard a bad word said about him, and he had no need to resort to risque liasons to prove to himself or to others, that he was not ‘boring’, a man who had no need to resort to ‘spin’ or any of the other tricks that modern celebs seem to delighht in indulging in. A ‘broad-minded’ man, whose main delight was the company of his family.

    My candidate – Arnold Palmer…… and I am not a particular golf fanatic either, he justs seems to be a good all-round sort of fellow who has inspired many to try that little bit harder. A true icon!

    p.s. Arnold Palmer retired from competitive golf today, after the second round of The Masters. He is seventy four!, and has played in the last fifty Masters, a tournament that requires qualification to be in, a remarkable record.

  • Alas, I would imagine it impossible to find a businessman or woman in Britain who is a consistent libertarian. When is the last time one heard of a businessman who turned down something like a subsidy on principle? Anyone know?

    Actually I wouldn’t condemn a businessman for taking a subsidy as being inconsistent with libertarianism. Accepting free gifts from people is not wrong, knowingly accepting stolen property is of course to be condemned, but it is probably true to say that in most instances the subsidy accepted amounts to less than the money extorted from the business in the first place and by accepting a subsidy then the business man is just clawing back some of his own stolen property.

    This is probably not true of the very large corporations and professions who are hand in glove with the government though.

    Anyway accepting a subsidy is one thing; choosing to campaign for subsidies and extra regulations is quite another. It is perfectly licit for a businessman to campaign for a reduction in his taxes not to go demanding the trampling of other peoples property rigths. This is what Martin has done. His crime is very great and his punishment should be correspondingly severe. Personally I hope he is plunged into bankruptcy as swiftly as possible.

  • R:E Does any one have hero to worship?

    Maybe I can be your man. The solution to Britains ban on smoking in pubs to me seems clear as day. You simpy have outdoor, sheltered smoking areas. This is the case in Ireland and the major chains are already beginning to see the potential over here.

    As for being your hero to worship. I believe i have all of the required tools in my arsenal to succeed in just about anything I put my mind to. Arrogant? Perhaps but honest, I assure you. I am looking to start a coopration initially involved in the revival of the typical sub-urban pub. I have the answers to the patently obvious questions that haunt failing pubs in British suburbia today.

    Anyone interested in investing in such a project would be advised to contact Justin on 07973 402082.

    Only serious enquiries please. No time wasters.

  • Justin

    R:E Does any one have hero to worship?

    Maybe I can be your man. The solution to Britains ban on smoking in pubs to me seems clear as day. You simpy have outdoor, sheltered smoking areas. This is the case in Ireland and the major chains are already beginning to see the potential over here.

    As for being your hero to worship. I believe i have all of the required tools in my arsenal to succeed in just about anything I put my mind to. Arrogant? Perhaps but honest, I assure you. I am looking to start a coopration initially involved in the revival of the typical sub-urban pub. I have the answers to the patently obvious questions that haunt failing pubs in British suburbia today.

    Anyone interested in investing in such a project would be advised to contact Justin on 07973 402082.

    Only serious enquiries please. No time wasters.

  • Justin

    R:E Does any one have hero to worship?

    Maybe I can be your man. The solution to Britains ban on smoking in pubs to me seems clear as day. You simpy have outdoor, sheltered smoking areas. This is the case in Ireland and the major chains are already beginning to see the potential over here.

    As for being your hero to worship. I believe i have all of the required tools in my arsenal to succeed in just about anything I put my mind to. Arrogant? Perhaps but honest, I assure you. I am looking to start a coopration initially involved in the revival of the typical sub-urban pub. I have the answers to the patently obvious questions that haunt failing pubs in British suburbia today.

    Anyone interested in investing in such a project would be advised to contact Justin on 07973 402082.

    Only serious enquiries please. No time wasters.

  • James Wild

    I’ve recently started taking a serious look at Libertarianism after the smoking-ban and I’m a Green for God’s sake!
    There are so many problems with this illiberal anti-libertarian bill. Here’s a few:
    1. It will be bad for the environment as more pubs will be using gas heaters which burn fossil fuels,
    2. 100’s of pubs are likely to go out of business as smokers will stay home,
    3. Smokers who stay home will smoke in front of children and non-smoking partners,
    4. The anti-smoking bill may be based on bad science as according to some research ‘passive smoking’ is almost harmless.
    5. It is using petty authoritarianism when many compromise measures could have been broght in instead.