24 hour drinking
New Labour's plans for alcohol to be sold for 24 hours have come to fruition. Now pubs, bars and supermarkets can apply for licences to sell alcohol for 24 hours a day.
Will this "cure" the habit of binge drinking? Who cares if it does? It's a person's right to binge drink, really, considering it's their body to do what they please with.
One thing does trouble me though. It really shouldn't be the state who determines whether pubs and bars can serve alcohol for 24 hours a day. Let the market decide. If the demand for 24 hour opening exists (which it probably does) then a bar owner will cater for it. Only property owners should be able to determine whether their establishments open for 24 hours.
Will I take advantage of this new trend? Of course. What's wrong with having a beer or cider in the early hours?
Support of the Iraq war
I was listening to Harry Browne's radio show earlier today. He was having a heated discussion with Eric Dondero, a neo-libertarian who supports the Iraq war.
Browne and Dondero disagreed regarding the proper response for 9/11 and whether the war in Iraq was just or not.
If I were American, I would try to ascertain why Al Qaeda resorted to destroying the World Trade Center. Terrorists don't attack targets for no reason. If terrorism can be defined as violence used to further political goals or change, then Al Qaeda must have some raison d'etre. If Al Qaeda truly "hate our freedom" (as Bush and Blair state) then yes, I would support force against Al Qaeda. If Al Qaeda exist because of opposition to US foreign policy, then I believe a review of US foreign policy is in order.
I opposed the Iraq war, since I felt the UK had no business in attacking a country that was of no direct threat to us. Any threat to us has been over-stated and unsubstantiated by Tony Blair, since no weapons of mass destruction were discovered in Iraq. In my mind, the solution to the 7th July attacks in London is not to further aggravate Al Qaeda.
Libertarian Alliance conference
I attended the Libertarian Alliance/Libertarian International conference today. I arrived late (after some trouble finding the National Liberal Club) but I liked the proceedings when I arrived.
I listened to the talk from Dr Sorin, in which he spoke about the NHS and the role of race and ethnicity within the system.
I didn't stay for all of the duration of the conference, but I enjoyed what I heard. I look forward to next year's event.
The government are pondering raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. This is because the British population is ageing. Supposedly, in 2030, 25% of people in Britain would be over 65.
The Conservatives have criticised this move, since they feel taxes may rise to fund increased state pensions.
Of course, my view isn't hard to ascertain. We don't need any state-run pensions or welfare of any kind. WIth an elimination of income taxes, people would have the chance to save more money for their retirement.
Germany's "Grand Coalition"
It seems like Frau Merkel is ready to lead her "Grand Coalition" government.
Supposedly this is the first time in decades that the CDU/CSU and SPD have united in a coalition government.
What Germany needs is someone to liberalise its economy (akin to what Thatcher did when she was the UK's PM). As a libertarian, I decry Germany's over-regulated economy. Granted, the re-unification of West and East Germany hasn't helped matters. Nevertheless, this is not the entireity of Germany's problems.
In essence, the "social market" model is failing. With so much regulation, economic growth has been sluggish. Germany has been one of the worst performing G8 nations over the past decade. GDP growth over that period has only averaged around 1% (in the UK it's been over twice that rate). The heightened level of regulation (via the inflexible labour market) is also contributing to Germany's relatively high unemployment rate.
If (somehow) I were Chancellor of Germany, I'd repeal all regulations on business and greatly lessen personal taxation. Without these regulations, businesses would be freer to hire and fire, hence lessen the scale of unemployment.
Germany (or more accurately the former West Germany) was one of the fastest growing major world economies in the post-war period. Whether Merkel and her SPD coalition allies can restore former glories remains to be seen, at present.
Can small government work?
A discussion on Free Talk Live (see Links list) the other day made me think.
Can smaller government work?
Naturally, I believe government is force, so it should be limited in size and scope so force is minimised. An anarcho-capitalist would probably state that his form of libertarianism is the logical one, since if government is force (and force is to be opposed by libertarians) then government is an unnecessary evil. I disagree with this.
There has never really been a working example of an anarcho-capitalist society. How would private protection agencies be more efficient than a state-owned police force? How would DRO's (as Ian from Free Talk Live puts it) provide proper protection to people? Anarcho-capitalists generally believe that limited government is a fallacy and that any government will naturally increase in size. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. Nonetheless, I don't consider myself an anarcho-capitalist since I remain unconvinced that the private sector can provide a better national defence, police or court system.
As a minarchist, I believe that government should be tied down with the "chains of a constitution". This enables a clear framework, in which the powers of politicians are clearly defined and the size and scope of government is limited in statute. The current British constitution, in this regard, is wholly "unlibertarian". Our constitution is comprised of some written elements (such as statutes) but also of constitutional conventions. There are no penalties for violating these conventions. If, for example, the Prime Minister chose somebody from outside Parliament to be in his Cabinet, would there be any penalty for such an act? It's unlikely there would be.
A Labour MP is introducing a Bill in Parliament in order to "end discrimination" against mothers who breastfeed.
Sometimes, I don't understand the furore surrounding breastfeeding. That's WHY women have breasts, isn't it?! Surely all women should breastfeed their babies, since this is the natural method of feeding infants. I doubt Mitochondrial Eve, all those millenia back, bottlefed her children.
Of course, it should be property owners who can determine whether women can breastfeed, not the goverrnment. Personally, I'd consider it offensive to see a woman exposing her breast in public. But if a property owner permits it, then there is little I can do about it (apart from complain to him/her), is there?
Racism laws "failing"
A book, written for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has stated that anti-racism laws have failed to combat the roots of prejudice.
The book says that whilst anti-racism legislation has made a difference in employment, it has failed to tackle "ingrained" prejudice.
Is this any true surprise? Prejudices are part of human nature. I'd bet that most people harbour some kind of prejudice, no matter how petty, small or extreme. Granted, people can argue as to whether human nature is fixed or can be altered, nevertheless human nature cannot be wished away by passing laws and increasing the scope of government.
Also, in a free society, who is to state what a person can or cannot believe? Exercising freedom of conscience doesn't violate others' rights, in themselves. They certainly do not initiate force or fraud against the person or property. In a libertarian society, anybody should be able to believe anything, no matter how offensive, extreme or loony. So, in essence, people should possess a RIGHT to be racist.
This just shows that government doesn't work. Anti-discrimination laws have been present since the 1970's in the UK and haven't produced their desired effect. With proper freedom of association, racists wouldn't have to associate with, or do business with, any member of a race they detested. Surely this would lead to a more harmonious society.
I was watching PMQ's last Wednesday. A Labour MP asked the PM whether the government would ban fireworks (probably due to problems relating to fireworks in her constituency). Blair responded in stating that such a move would be a "step too far".
Despite the fact I agree with Blair (just for once!), a call for the criminalisation of fireworks seems based in poor logic.
Granted, some people are hurt using fireworks. But some people are hurt driving cars. Should all cars be banned? Fireworks in themselves are not designed to harm others. The same applies to cars. It's only a byproduct of the nature of a firework or car (,i.e. a firework is hot and a car travelling at speed can injure others) which causes injury. By this rationale, kitchen knives should be outlawed, since one can injure themselves whilst chopping food.
The issue here is personal responsibility. Whilst using fireworks, you must be aware of their potentially harmful nature and the fact that fireworks can cause lethal and even fatal injuries. Similarly, whilst driving a car, you generally do take good care and attention of yourself and other drivers. Would some people act irresponsibly? Of course some might. However that shouldn't be the government's concern, if someone is injured from playing with fireworks.
With freedom comes responsibility. This means that one should recognise the consequences of one's actions, if one desires to be free to act.
The PM is at odds with Labour backbenchers regarding a proposed upgrade of the Trident nuclear missile system. The backbenchers believe that the government should spend funding (which is approximately £20 billion) on public services.
I must say, for once, I'm in agreement with Blair pertaining to this issue. As a libertarian, I don't believe in "public services". Most of these "services" are based upon force, both against the person and property.
Protecting the sovereignty of the nation is one of government's legitimate functions. If possessing a nuclear arsenal (which IMO should be increased) is necessary for our protection, then so be it. In my estimation, a libertarian government shouldn't unilaterally eliminate our nuclear deterrant.
Dr. Tame tributes
Some members of the British libertarian community paid some tributes to Dr. Chris Tame, at last Friday's Puntey Debates, held by the Libertarian Alliance.
Dr. Tame was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer of the bones. Hence his friends within the libertarian movement in the UK decided to pay tribute to him and recognise the efforts he has made for libertarianism in this country.
I don't know Dr. Tame, nonetheless after listening to the tributes, it seems he was a driving force for the creation of the contemporary libertarian movement in the United Kingdom. He had founded the Libertarian Alliance and had "recruited" (if that's the correct term to use) numerous people into becoming ardent libertarians.
Hopefully, Dr. Tame will have a number of years ahead of him and will be greatly missed by the British libertarian community.