Sunday, 30 October 2005

"Banning" alcohol consumption on trains and buses

Tony Blair's "respect czar" is urging the PM to outlaw the consumption of alcohol on trains, buses and other forms of public transport.

Louise Casey, the czar in question, is supposedly supported by the police, since incidents of alcohol-fuelled violence on public transport have increased.

Binge drinking certainly should never be outlawed. It's a person's right to put whatever they want into their body and the state possesses no right to force people to do otherwise. With actions come consequences, however. Anyone who binge drinks should do so responsibly and not infringe on rights to the person or property in the process. For binge drinking to be tackled (if it should be tackled), then a cultural shift is needed within Britain. Maybe Blair and his "czar" should consider voluntarily altering attitudes towards alcohol, instead of using governmental force to curb binge drinking.

It should also be private property owners that ban alcohol on their premises, not the state. In the UK, trains are largely operated by private companies. The same applies to buses in many areas.

Saturday, 29 October 2005

Cost of Iraq war

Ministry of Defence figures denote that the Iraq war has cost the government over £3 billion.

I've always been opposed to the Iraq war, largely (from a paleolibertarian viewpoint) because I felt Saddam's regime was none of our business. This is in addition to the flagrant lies that were perpetuated by Blair, regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction.

The fact that £3,000,000,000 has been spent to fund the Iraq war demonstrates the force utilised in the name of government. This money evidently comes from taxation, which is money forcibly extracted from the citizens. Politicians, hungry for power and to "make their mark" on the world use this money to invade Iraq (a country that had never threatened the United Kingdom), finance enhancements to "public services", introduce ID cards and other means of exercising force against the people.

This is why the powers of politicians should be limited, so they don't possess the capability of imposing force against the citizens they're elected to serve.

Friday, 28 October 2005

Intruder laws

A Private Members' Bill is being introduced to Parliament, which if passed would increase the rights of homeowners to protect themselves against burglars.

Conservative Ann McIntosh's Bill would enable homeowners to protect their property until "grossly disproportionate force" was used.

I feel this Bill is a step in the right direction. However, it doesn't go far enough.

If someone enters another's property with the will to steal from or cause physical harm to the inhabitants, I believe that ANY force should be permitted against the intruder. This is even if force is "disproportionate".

Some may believe that the burglar's "rights" aren't being respected. Well, I say hard luck. The burglar himself is violating the property rights (and in some cases the right to life) of the homeowner. Rights are generally reciprocal in nature. One should respect others' rights, if they desire for their own rights to be respected.

David Davis "tax cuts"

David Davis MP, one of the candidates for the position of Conservative Party leader, has proposed tax cuts if he becomes the leader of a Conservative government.

Mr. Davis supposedly wants £38 billion worth of tax cuts until the next general election. He believes that enhancements for public services can be maintained, whilst reducing the rate of growth for public spending.

You know what? I would really admire a Conservative politician who was willing to eliminate the income tax, scrap all duties on business and end National Insurance. Evidently, that's going a bit too far, especially when the Tories are concerned.

Even with these proposed tax cuts (that's if Davis even wins the leadership and then becomes PM) the Tories would still be a party of big government. I'd imagine that under a Davis Conservative government, public expenditure would equate with 40% of Gross Domestic Product. Apparently such a figure is FAR too large.

Government should only protect rights to the person and property. If this were the case, I'd estimate that government should spend approximately 5% of GDP. With such a small government, we wouldn't really need an income tax, or taxes on business.

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Blair "swearing"

This article seemed quite comical.

Isn't the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom allowed any right to freedom of expression?!

Tories to "back" anti-terror laws

Supposedly, the Conservative Party are about to support New Labour's anti-terror legislation.

They will only support certain sections of the government's legislation, but endorse it in principle.

Isn't this the Conservative Party of small government? Of getting government out of people's lives? The Tories undermine any claim they possess to being such things, when they support legislation like this.

Fine, terrorists may be out to cause harm. Such a fact isn't truly in dispute. What is in dispute is holding a terror suspect for 90 days without any charge. How can we ascertain the guilt of this person, without any trial within a criminal court?

Evidently, this is simply another example of New Labour's gross illiberalism.

Overweight people "discriminated against in job market"

A survey of human resource managers in Britain has denoted that overweight people find it harder to gain jobs than slimmer people.

The survey demonstrated that employers believe overweight people lack self-discipline. Others believed obesity undermined productivity.

To be frank, I see nothing wrong in this. Employers should be able to hire, fire, buy from and sell to anyone they choose and be free to discriminate against anyone they choose on any basis. It's simply freedom of association being exercised.

I feel this report is viewed as "shocking" by some people. Well (aside from any libertarian perspective) it's no surprise to me, considering the stigma associated with being overweight in contemporary society.

Friday, 21 October 2005

Clare Short's war Bill

Former Cabinet Secretary Clare Short has introduced a Private Member's Bill, designed to limit a British Prime Minister's ability to declare war.

The Bill, if passed, would enable Parliament to vote for military action. Presently, the ability to declare war is one of the "Royal Prerogatives", which are powers theoretically possessed by the Sovereign. The Prime Minister can use these powers whenever he wishes, but must seek the permission of the Sovereign when doing so.

This Bill evidently is in response to the 2003 Iraq war, to which I personally was opposed. I've never been a fan of these "Royal Prerogatives". They are a holdover from when the Sovereign was the de facto source of executive power in the United Kingdom. When (for example) Henry VIII was King, he could declare war, appoint ministers and appoint diplomats at will. The British constitution has evolved over time, so these powers gradually became the preserve of the Prime Minister and not the Sovereign. IMO, the Royal Prerogatives are archaic and should be abolished.

Such powers cannot be consistent with a libertarian government. Libertarians believe that government is force. Hence the powers of government must be clearly defined and limited so force is minimised. In principle, I support Ms. Short's Bill, since the PM shouldn't possess a unilateral ability to declare war.

If you've read my libertarian constitution on the links section (to the right), you'd see that I've granted Parliament the ability to declare war. I've done this so the powers of individual politicians are limited, so force against the citizen is minimised.
"Compromise" on religious hatred law

Some opponents of the proposed legislation outlawing religious hatred have outlined a compromise plan, which may permit the ability to ridicule religion.

Among the proposed safeguards are:

1) - Nobody can be found guilty of new religious hate crimes unless it is proved they intended to stir up hatred.

2) - Only threatening words should be banned by the bill, not those which are abusive or insulting.

3) - There should be a specific part of the bill saying the law should not restrict discussion, criticism of expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or beliefs.

I feel this "religious hatred" bill is simply another instance of New Labour's gross illiberalism.

Religion is not an intrinsic trait. Spirtiuality may be, but the two things aren't synonymous. One can freely choose to adopt, follow or denounce a religion. One cannot adopt or denounce a race or gender.

Evidently, this is also an attack on freedom of expression. If someone gets "offended" because their religion is being mocked, then this is tough. Such an act doesn't violate others' rights to the person or property. If anything, one can dismiss such speech as foolish or irrelevant, or use their own right to freedom of expression to counter and refute such comments.

In regards to freedom of expression, I don't believe such a right should be total (as some other libertarians might). Most would state it's wrong to shout "fire!" in a crowded theatre. Even still, I believe laws against defamation (libel and slander) should exist. People shouldn't really possess the right to damage others' lives by stating falsehoods about others. It's not really a decent act, IMO.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Cameron and drugs

Conservative leadership candidate David Cameron has urged media restraint, regarding claims that a relative of his is receiving treatment for a heroin addiction. Of course, Cameron is under pressure to state whether he has ever taken drugs or not.

Mr Cameron said politicians were "only human" and everyone was allowed to "err and stray" in the past.

He said: "I didn't spend the early years of my life thinking: 'I better not do anything because one day I might be a politician' because I didn't know I was going to be a politician.

Asked directly if he had ever taken Class A drugs, Mr Cameron said: "I have said all I want to say about this."

I have to agree with Cameron. I've never really understood the concept that politicians must be "whiter than white" before entering office. IMO, a politician must show a good ability to govern and the ability to adhere to and successfully deliver his policies and election promises. Politicians are human beings like you and I, hence have the same capacity to be fallible and make mistakes.

If Cameron ever has taken drugs, I personally wouldn't care. Naturally, as a libertarian I favour the legalisation of all drugs. Even though personally I don't approve of drug taking, I recognise that the war on drugs is a failure and that a person has the right to put whatever he wants into his body. Iin regards to the Conservative leadership race, I must admit I haven't been following it very closely. To be frank, it's largely a bore to me. Regardless of whoever wins, we shall still be confronted with big government. None of the candidates want to significantly reduce the size of government.

Since politicians are human and are therefore prone to error, the powers of politicians must be greatly limited as not to impose force against citizens. As a libertarian, I seek the elimination of force from all human affairs.

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Maggie Thatcher's birthday

Today is Margaret Thatcher's 80th birthday. This isn't really a libertarian issue, but she is one of the great figures of contemporary British politics, so it's worth a mention.

I was born in 1979, so I was a child for all of the Thatcher years. What I've learnt of her has evidently been acquired later in life.

From a libertarian perspective, Thatcher's term as PM was mixed. In an economic context, libertarians would have a fair amount of sympathy for her, even if the government still owned schools and the NHS. In terms of social freedoms, there is little to praise Thatcher, though one should remember that one aspect of "New Right" thinking is social conservatism.

IMO, Thatcher's economic record in itself is unimpressive. In her first term, the UK experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression and inflation reached above 20%. Thatcher's government even had to abandon a strict adherence to monetarist theories during the mid-1980's. Unemployment reached 3 million under Thatcher. In the mid to late 1980's, GDP growth may have boomed, nonetheless such growth was unsustainable and led to high inflation. The effects of this boom probably contributed to the severity of the early 1990's recession. The Major Conservative government generally continued Thatcher's policies and produced a far more stable macroeconomic situation. All New Labour have done is to maintain this economic strength, not create it.

Some believe that Thatcher would have lost the 1983 election, if it weren't for the Falklands War. During her first term, she was the most unpopular PM since records had began. Of course, a hard-left manifesto by the Labour Party also contributed to her landslide win in 1983. In regards to the Falklands War, I believe this was a war consistent with libertarian principles, whether from a paleo or neo-libertarian perspective. The Falkland Islands is sovereign British territory and I feel we had every right to respond to Argentinian aggression. Personally, I don't even know nor understand the basis of Argentina's claims to the Falkland Islands.

Overall, I think Thatcherism was necessary to correct the wrongs of the 1970's. The UK was labelled the "sick man of Europe", because of trade union unrest, IMF bailouts and other occurences. However, her economic record in itself isn't anything to praise from any good macroeconomic viewpoint. As a libertarian, I don't believe her free-market approach was a comprehensive as it should have been, since the state still owned the schools and the NHS.

In general, there are hardly any PM's in modern British political history who can be commended from a libertarian angle. Wilson's government in the 1960's made some socially liberal moves forward, such as legalising homosexuality and abortion, but that's about it.

Monday, 10 October 2005

Lords' Euthanasia Bill

A Private Member's Bill has been introduced in the House of Lords, which if passed, would permit doctors to prescribe, but not administer, lethal drugs.

Lord Joffe, the peer who introduced the Bill, said:

"It's really very similar to an insurance policy - that they will all be individuals, who are used to controlling their lives and who are strong and determined about what they do and how they manage their lives,"

This Bill is certainly a step in the right direction. I'm not sure if the government should pass legislation to permit euthanasia. Certainly the government shouldn't pass any law that outlaws it.

From the perspective of libertarians, a person owns their life. Therefore they should have the right to terminate it if they choose. No libertarian government should ever outlaw suicide.

Sunday, 9 October 2005

Freedom-loving Lords?!

Some peers from the House of Lords have rebuked the Labour government's plans to curb terrorism.
Lord Lloyd said: "It begins to look ... a little like internment.

"And it would certainly be seen that way by some ethnic minorities.

"Fancy being kept for three months without being charged. Being questioned notionally and not being charged.

"That is intolerable.

"By, in a sense, stirring up the fear, and then saying well this is what we're going to do about it by legislating here, there and everywhere, I think that's in a sense irresponsible."

Lord Lloyd may not be a libertarian, but I concur with his sentiments.

As a libertarian, I don't need to be told that government is force. Since government is force, the powers of government must be restricted, so force is minimised.

If we in the UK trade rights for security, we all lose. We also let the terrorists win. If Al Qaeda truly do "hate our freedom", then such moves by New Labour are a stepping stone to Islamists undermining Western values of liberty.

In a libertarian society, it is government's sole role to protect rights to the person and property. All must face proper due process, irrespective of the severity of the crime they've committed.

New Labour's thorough anti-liberalism is a great cause for concern. Slowly, the United Kingdom is becoming less and less free. As a libertarian, in good conscience I cannot possibly condone Labour's actions in this regard.

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Conservatives: "We must save freedoms"

Today was the second day of the Conservative Party conference. An article at the BBC News website seemed intriguing.

The Shadow Energy Secretary, David Willetts stated today that the Conservatives must protect personal freedoms and historic liberties.

He said:
"We believe in personal freedom, rooted in our historic liberties and protected by the common law and limited government. "

If this is the case, why have Conservative governments done little to advance personal freedoms in recent times? The Thatcher governments didn't and neither did John Major's government. The latter may have decreased the gay age of consent, but that level didn't equate with the heterosexual age. Again, the Conservatives call for smaller government. However, they actually do little to practically reduce the size and scope of government. A Conservative government would probably spend over 40% of GDP; that's hardly smaller government. A Tory government would also use force to govern and would ultimately be a party of big government.

Willetts also added:
"That underpins our commitment to a flexible market economy."

I'd like to ask Clarke, Davis, Cameron, etc. if they would reduce any regulations on business. Businessowners should be let free from governmental force and be able to administer their businesses without regulation.

Even if the Conservatives won the 2009/10 election, we would still have four/five years of big government. That's not something I enjoy looking forward to.

Sunday, 2 October 2005

Gambling laws

New Labour have altered the laws pertaining to gambling in England & Wales.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Tessa Jowell MP has stated that the UK would possess the most heavily regulated gambling industry in the world.

Why exactly should gambling be regulated? People should be free to gamble and spend their money as they wish. Any regulation should be as a consequence of free market conditions.

As for people being addicted to gambling, so what? Government's only purpose should be to protect citizens' rights to the person and property. It shouldn't exist to protect people from themselves. After all, with freedom comes responsibility; a person should be able to recognise the cognitive link between actions and consequences.