To put it another way, Law itself is a prison and the fewer people who ever see its bars, the better. That ‘not that many’ people can transform the lives of the rest of us by force of law is undoubtedly true. It happens all the time, but does not strike me as a thing to be happy about.
- ‘Tom Paine’
… one day it would end, and not nearly enough of the government actually did shut down.
The problem is not confined to the U.S. Britain’s problem is almost as bad; gross debt there increased from 51.9% of GDP in 2008 to a projected 82.1% of GDP, an increase of 30.2 percentage points, or 6.2 percentage points a year – again double the increase in nominal GDP, which in Britain has consisted almost entirely of inflation. This is not due to British “austerity” – policies since May 2010 have slowed the debt increase somewhat, but killed the economy, since they involved heavy tax rises and very few genuine spending cuts.
- Martin Hutchinson. Read the whole thing.
Watching the three party leaders arguing shamelessly over energy bills and climate-change policies is, at points, jaw-dropping. While Cameron mocks Miliband’s proposed energy freeze and points out that in the last Labour government he was the energy secretary who piled extra costs on to consumers, the Tory leader backed Miliband’s green policies at the time and has continued in a similar vein in office. That means that successive governments have been very slow to respond to warnings about Britain’s looming energy crisis
- Iain Martin
I’m sure there are folks who don’t understand why Libertarians rejoice at the total miserable failure of ObamaCare. Let me put it this way. We rejoiced when the Berlin Wall fell. Many of us were downright giddy when Pol Pot was arrested. I intend to host a Tarrant County Libertarian Meetup/Party on the night of Fidel Castro’s funeral. People who forcibly intervene in the lives and choices of adults do more harm than good. When they fail, society benefits. It really is that simple.
- The Whited Sepulchre
Oh what fun… two loathsome newspapers representing thuggish authoritarian corporatist right-statism and thuggish hypocritical kleptocratic left-statism respectively, slug it out. More and faster please!
If you think what Edward Snowden did was wrong, read this article by John Lanchester.
The Guardian has been talking about Islamic dress for woman and I keep waiting to see someone frame this as more than just either “the state needs to ban it” or “it is a matter of freedom of choice for individuals”.
These are both useful points but they actually miss the real issue, which is allowing civil society to actually function.
Yes, I agree the state has no business telling people what they can or cannot wear other than in the most limited utilitarian circumstances (for example you should have to show your face when giving evidence in court and similar situations where identity and personal reactions to question need to be judged by a jury). So if someone wants to wear a burqua or pink rabbit slippers and a tutu or a Nazi arm band, that should be entirely up to them in almost every circumstance.
But that leads us to the real question: I support the right of people to wear whatever they wish. But I also support the right of people to react to that decision as they wish, as long as it does not involve violence or threats thereof.
The reason I mentioned a Nazi arm band in the above examples is that it is an item of clothing that is likely to produce a very negative reaction from many observers. People refusing to do business with, or offering a job to, or actively criticising someone, for wearing a Nazi arm band would strike many as acting perfectly reasonably and within their rights. Hopefully things are not yet so bad that an employer refusing to hire someone who turns up to a job interview wearing a Nazi arm band would find themselves in trouble with the law (but hey, anything is possible these days).
A ‘reasonable man’ on most juries would accept that as a Nazi arm band strongly implies that person supports Nazi values and ideology, it is perfectly reasonable to discriminate against such a person if you find those valued abhorrent, and not want such a person to represent you in the marketplace. After all, that Nazi arm band represents an ideology steeped in collectivist violence, irrational prejudice, misogyny, the complete replacement of civil society with ideologically directed interactions… in short, the totalitarian imposition of certain ways of life on everyone.
Now what else does that remind you of?
In other words, a Nazi arm band is very much like a burqua in the eyes of a great many people.
So yes, I demand that people be able to wear whatever they want without being threatened by the state. And I demand that other people be allowed to infer certain things from what others wear, and treat them accordingly, without the law preventing them from doing so.
That is right, I am in favour of people’s right to discriminate on the basis of another person’s views.
What moved Americans about Snowden was not just the scale of NSA hoovering of data – though polls indicate strong aversion – but the lying to Congress. Snowden, a Republican former soldier, was simply shocked at the clear collapse of congressional and judicial oversight. The US had lurched into aping precisely the totalitarian regimes it professed to guard against (…) Yet none of this seems to turn a hair in London. While Washington has been tearing itself apart, dismissive remarks by William Hague in the Commons and Lady Warsi in the Lords could have passed muster in Andropov’s supreme soviet. Hague said merely that everything was “authorised, necessary, proportionate and targeted”. National security was not for discussion. British oversight was “probably the strongest … anywhere in the world”. This remark – contradicted by GCHQ itself – went unchallenged.
Meanwhile Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, head of the intelligence and security committee and supposed champion of citizens against state intrusion, positively grovelled towards GCHQ. He said we should all defer to “those involved in intelligence work”. He even cancelled a public hearing with the security chiefs for fear of embarrassing them.
For Labour, Yvette Cooper claimed obscurely she “long believed in stronger oversight” but she was drowned by a dad’s army of former defence and home secretaries, such as Lord Reid, Lord King and Jack Straw. All rallied to the securocrats’ banner in shrill unison. I sometimes think these people would bring back the rack, the whip and the gallows if “vital for national security”.
- Simon Jenkins
Fortunately Obama and assorted hard-of-thinking folks across the political spectrum in the USA seem to have backed away from becoming allies of Al Qaeda in Syria. But that means it looks like a fascinating lose-lose-win scenario is coming to pass: Al Qaeda and its allies lose, Hezbullah and its Iranian and Ba’athist allies lose, everyone else wins.
Syria’s deputy prime minister says the civil war has reached stalemate with neither side strong enough to win.
So Hezbullah and Al Qaeda are bleeding each other white in Syria in an attrition war that shows no sign of ending, and moreover this state of affairs costs us in the West not a penny.
I still think selling both sides ammo would be a really great idea as it would be hard to overstate the need to keep this on the boil as long as possible. Perhaps now is a good time to urge the UN to remain fixated on vital issues such as ‘climate change’ in Kazakhstan or ‘gender inequality’ in Nicaragua or ‘indigenous rights’ in Mordor or whatever, so they do not make any meaningful attempts to broker any unhelpful ceasefires.
Politicians as a general rule are rapacious by inclination, but what really differentiates them from ‘private sector’ thugs, such as muggers, burglars and home invaders, is their breathtakingly smug sense of morality inverting entitlement to your things… a conviction that anything you ‘own’ is only done so at their sufferance.
Mr Cable’s move to back a land tax is likely to prove the most controversial. Supporters of a land tax, who outlined their case at a fringe event at the conference, say that an annual tax on the rental value of land would be fairer than levying charges on the sale of homes or on the purchase of goods through VAT. Land, they argue, “is a basic community asset” and individuals should be taxed when they claim “exclusive use” of particular plots.
In other words, you cannot ‘own’ land in reality, you can only rent it from the state, who will allow you to control their land only if you can keep paying the annual rent they decide to levy on it. Moreover the notion of taxing a non-producing asset like private residential land is tantamount to a ‘war on retirement’ and wholesale residential collectivisation. It is a literal end to the notion of freehold.
I have never understood how some credulous libertarians and conservatives have ever seen supporters of the Land Value Tax as anything other than the rapacious collectivising rent seekers that they are.
David Heaton is, or rather was, a UK government tax adviser. And he has just resigned after being filmed explaining how the tax rules work and therefore how to work the system and minimise how much you get taxed.
And moreover he had the temerity to use the phrase keeping your money “out of the Chancellor’s grubby mitts”.
In truth, I suspect this is what most annoyed the powers-that-be: not acting as it the act of taxation was somehow a self evident moral thing rather than a threat based appropriation, and refusing to accept the notion that paying as little tax as legally possible is someone immoral. There are few things states hate more than people acting as it the state does not have morality on its side.
So yes, the Chancellor’s mitts are indeed grubby.
And although I am delighted David Heaton was pointing out ways to indeed keep money out of said grubby mitts, I am less glad he was suggesting milking the system to profit at the expense of other taxpayers rather than just avoiding the rapacious hands of the state… and as he made his money from HMRC, I will lose no sleep over him having to give up his taxpayer funded job.