Thursday, 31 March 2005

Air gun woman's neighbours call for her release

A few days ago, I made a post on how a middle aged woman was jailed for firing a pellet gun at some 'yobbos' who were vandalising her property. Well, the woman's neighbours are calling for her release.

A local newsagent said: “Linda Walker has my utmost respect for what she did because I can understand what would have driven her to do it.

“I have problems with tearaways in my shop. I’m sick and tired of them. I have caught some stealing sweets and drinks from the shelves.”

George Arnold, 80, said: “I think she showed great courage to stand up to the kids.”

The Conservative MP, Ann Widdecombe, stated that : “All the time she was trying to get the law to do something about the vandalism, the law was completely ineffectual. But the moment she took the law into her own hands, the law worked. It is the wrong way round. What she did was undeniably wrong, but the police should be more efficient at dealing with anti- social behaviour.”

I partially agree with Ms. Widdecombe (though I don't believe Ms. Walker's actions were wrong). IMO, this is a failing of the police to protect property rights. The police should prosecute those who violate others' property rights to the full extent of the law.

Ms. Walker's son, Craig, said that:
“Mum hadn’t gone out there to hurt anyone. She was just fed up of our house getting vandalised and she wanted to defend her property.”

It's a sad day, IMHO, when people get penalised for simply defending their own property.

New Labour election campaign to 'focus on the economy'

In the forthcoming general election campaign, Labour shall put the UK's economic future at the heart of their campaigning, according to Gordon Brown MP.

He said "voters would recognise that Labour had brought stability and growth, and would continue to do so."

Well yes, Britain's economic performance has been stable under New Labour, but Mr. Brown should realise that New Labour inherited a strong economic position in 1997. Bar Bank of England independence, the economic policies of New Labour haven't been vastly different to the last Conservative government.

A report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies stated that average incomes had fallen for the first time since the early 90's recession. Alan Milburn, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said that:

"Since 1997, the reported average take-home income had 'risen by 20% in real terms' if you took out the self-employed."

I'm not an expert in economics, but I wonder if the Treasury has any statistics which can successfully refute the IFS' claim.

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Armed forces 'cuts' and reforms

Michael Howard has accused the government of jeopardising the country's national security with reforms to the armed forces.

Mr. Howard argued that:

At a time of growing threats, instability and new dangers, Mr Blair has decided to cut our armed forces.

"This cannot be right. We cannot afford to gamble with our national security."

I wonder if Mr. Howard can clearly and concisely attempt to ascertain why the UK is supposedly under threat from Islamists. Or does he adhere to the tired rhetoric of how they 'hate our freedoms'?

I'm not an expert in military affairs, but I fail to see how the UK can justify stationing military personnel overseas. For example, why do we have troops in Cyprus? OK, yes it may have been a former British colony. Still, it's sovereign now. Cyprus' problems aren't and shouldn't be any problems of ours.

If Howard and the Tories (sorry....Conservatives...let's call them how they want to be called) truly believe in 'smaller government' then they should advocate reducing government expenditure by refraining from sending troops overseas. National offence should be converted to national defence.

If anything, the United Kingdom is blessed by its geographical position, especially when determining potential military threats to it. We are an island nation and any country seeking to invade us would need strong naval forces (Hitler resorted to the Battle of Britain for this purpose during WWII). We are also surrounded by friendly nations. The Republic of Ireland, France, the Benelux countries and the Scandanavian countries are all either NATO allies or fellow EU members.

I may be a layman as far as military issues are concerned, but a strong navy should be the vanguard of Britain's defences. At present, we possess the largest navy in Western Europe. Future governments (be they Labour or Conservative) should do their utmost to maintain such a position.

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Teacher 'jailed' for firing pellet gun at vandals

Some might probably cite this as an example of how the English & Welsh judicial system possesses flaws. But, personally, I take a different view on it. A fourty-eight year old teacher fired a weapon at some 'yobbos' who had been vandalising her property and harassing her family.

Sentencing Walker, the judge told her the offences she had committed were "serious" and that her response to the incident had been "wholly disproportionate".

Heh, 'wholly disproportionate'?

This woman simply was defending her property rights against those who sought to violate them. How can such an act be so reprehensible? The means to protect property rights should not violate the person and propety of others. The article I posted is brief, but it doesn't state that she caused physical injury or harm to the 'yobbos'. 'Feelings' may have been hurt, but IMO no government should concern itself with legislating over hurt feelings.

Owning a gun in itself is victimless crime, i.e. a crime that does not violate other rights and is consensual. The use and ownership of firearms should only be curbed by government if they are used to violate others rights to person and property. The teacher in the story was only using a firearm to protect her own property.

Monday, 28 March 2005

Conservatives and maternity pay

Howard and the Conservatives are to pledge they will increase maternity leave pay if they win the next election. The Tories are aiming to match Labour's plans to raise maternity pay. The Conservative plan would be worth £460 million and commence in 2008.

Is this the same Conservative Party who believe 'government is getting too big'? If so, then aren't they increasing the size and scope of the state by promoting extra welfare?!

The Tories seem to be emulating their American cousins in this respect. US conservatives often call for smaller government, yet seldom deliver such a thing. When Bush was running for President in 2000, the basis of his platform was to reduce the size of government. Has he done so? Of course not. That's unless one considers increased military spending (on account of the war on Terror) a sign of reducing the size and scope of government.

For many decades now, British government has been big government. Government as a proportion of GDP has been growing steadily under New Labour and is reaching the levels of France and Germany. Smaller government should be necessary to maintain a flexible, dynamic and loosely regulated economy.

I've stated this before, but government only really should be 5-10% of GDP. I feel that if government were reduced to the armed forces, police, judicial system, the money supply and the road system, 10% of GDP would be more than adequate. Ten percent of Gross Domestic Product currently equates with £100 billion. As I stated, this is more than enough to fund a smaller state.

Sunday, 27 March 2005

James Callaghan dead

Former PM James 'Sunny Jim' Callaghan died yesterday. I know this event isn't libertarian related, but I thought I'd comment on it nonetheless.

I was born only a few months after Thatcher won the 1979 general election, so evidently I would possess no memory of Callaghan's premiership. Still, based on what I have learnt later in life, IMO Callaghan was unfortunate to be PM at such a negative time for the British economy.

Shortly after he replaced Wilson as PM, the UK was 'bailed out' by the International Monetary Fund in order to halt sterling from falling. There was also the infamous 'Winter of Discontent', in which public service workers were continously striking. There is little wonder why the UK was labelled the 'sick man of Europe' at the time. He also had to seek cooperation with the Liberal party (called the 'Lib-Lab' pact) simply for Labour to maintain a parliamentary majority.

Personally, I believe that if he were PM in more favourable economic times (as Tony Blair has been), his premiership may have been longer and more distinguished. James Callaghan was supposedly the oldest former British PM ever.

Public Interest

Thanks to the editor of Public Interest blog for plugging my weblog. I'm flattered that he thinks highly of my blog.

Friday, 25 March 2005

Monitors for the general election

International observers will be in place at the next general election, in order to counter electoral fraud.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Greaves called last week for international observers at the general election - saying otherwise there could be months of court challenges "on a scale not seen since the 19th Century".

Doesn't Lord Greaves realise that the UK is one of the oldest surviving liberal democracies in the world? Aren't international observers largely necessary in 'fledging' democracies, or countries with little democratic traditions? Such a label would hardly apply to the United Kingdom.

Politicians like Lord Greaves should attempt to see that the electorate is apathetic because they don't LIKE the political class. Politicians always fail to keep their promises and often lie in regards to implementing their policies. One must also note that people fail to observe a difference between the main parties's policies. Why vote if they are all the same? Why vote if nothing ever changes?

This is where libertarianism can come in. In a libertarian society, the powers of politicians would only be limited to protecting rights to person and property. As Harry Browne says, government doesn't work.

At the least, a libertarian government would present a radically different alternative to what New Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats or any other party could currently offer.

Thursday, 24 March 2005

Blair - no confidence

Since it has been revealed that the war on Iraq was based on a false premise, how can Blair ETHICALLY defend going to war? He is a Christian, isn't he? So how is such a love of war justified (this applies to President Bush also)?
Shouldn't a motion of no confidence be passed against the New Labour government? In essence, they tricked the country into war against Iraq. In that sense, I cannot see how Parliament can possess confidence in such a government.

OK, yes some MPs attempted to impeach Blair, but such an action never had much opportunity of succeeding (and was an obscure constitutional convention anyhow). A motion of no confidence (unlike an impeachment of a British PM) has occurred within living memory.

Blair should confront the consequences of his acts as head of government and resign if a motion of no confidence is ever passed. At least then, Gordon Brown can be PM.

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

Mental health laws reform

MPs and peers have rebuked the government over reforms to mental health legislation. Health groups believe that mentally-ill people who are no threat to themselves or others could be detained under the new legislation.

Rosie Winterton, the health minister, said 'the Government wanted to increase safeguards for the "small number" of people detained because they posed a risk to themselves or others.'

Oh really? So perhaps Ms. Winterton could state why people who are no threat to the person or property of others should be detained?

This is just another example of New Labour's illliberalism. I believe that in a libertarian society, there should be laws that could incarcerate mentally ill. But only if it has been proven that they are a threat to the person and property of another. New Labour is steadily eroding the freedoms of the British people and the United Kingdom is gradually evolving into a police state.

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Blair to 'announce' the general election in April

The PM, according to the BBC, is to announce the date of the next general election early in April. Most political commentators state this will be on the 5th May2 2005. By convention, the PM is supposed to gain permission from the Sovereign in order to dissolve parliament. The Sovereign's power to dissolve parliament is only theoretical and is one of her 'reserve' powers.

I'm no fan of New Labour, but I cannot see them failing to secure a third successive term.

I've often wondered though, what the constitutional arrangement should be if there were ever a libertarian government in the UK. The British constitution is a mix of statutes, royal prerogative, common law, constitutional conventions and works of authority (from the likes of Bagehot and Dicey). Most libertarians would prefer a clear, concise constitution which specifically limited government and outlined the particular powers of that government. I'm inclined to agree with such a notion.

IMO, the British constitution should have less amounts of convention. Personally I think there should be a Prime Minsterial Powers Act, which would clearly lay down the PM's powers and duties. The current powers of the PM are merely conventions. There is no law which states that the PM must only appoint those from Parliament in his Cabinet, or that he can appoint Bishops in the Church of England, or that the PM himself must be an MP. Such an Act, I feel, would also cut down on 'presidential' tendencies (of which Blair and Thatcher were accused of). Besides, practically all other chief executives in the world have specifically defined powers. The powers of the US president are clearly defined in the Constitution.

Terry Schiavo case

This case in the United States intrigues me. Congress passed a law stating that she couldn't have her feeding tube cut off. Christian groups in the United States have welcomed the new legislation. Supposedly Bush feels this is a just law.

Such an action by Congress only seeks to reinforce that the United States is becoming less of a free country. First, there was the Patriot Act and now this. What right does the state have in determining whether she should live or die? It is HER LIFE. Ergo, she should only possess the right to terminate it or not.

Besides aren't Christians supposed to compassionate? If so, how can they permit a woman to live such a life? Of course, Christians would state she would 'go to hell' if euthaniasia was performed here. But didn't God give man free will? Such a state would enable a person to violate 'God's commands' if they choose.

Saturday, 19 March 2005

Victoria Cross winner

My praise may be a day late, nonetheless Mr. Beharry deserves to be commended for winning the Victoria Cross. Supposedly very few people have ever won this military decoration. Congratulations to Private Johnson Beharry.

The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke MP, has ordered a reassessment as to whether cannabis should be a Class C drug. This is due to their being health concerns surrounding the consumption of cannabis. According to Mr. Clarke, there are several studies that denote cannabis consumption can lead to psychosis and other mental illnesses.

Howard and the Conservatives were against the re-classification of cannabis and have pledged to restore the previous position if they become the party of government. The Tories believe this potential u-turn by Labour shows that the government 'got it wrong'.

My view on this issue shouldn't be too hard to ascertain or fathom. ALL narcotics should be legal. This is because the war on drugs simply doesn't work and there is no apparent sign of it ever working. Also, who is to state what a person can ingest or put into their body? Call me callous or unsympathetic, but it's irrevelant if cannabis causes mental illness. With freedom comes responsibility; a person should be free to smoke cannabis whilst recognising the consequences of his actions.

Thursday, 17 March 2005

Gordon Brown's budget

Gordon Brown gave his ninth budget on Wednesday. Of course he made remarks in regards to fifty consecutive quarters of GDP growth (a lot of which were under the last Conservative government) and Britain's generally healthy economic state at present. The budget appears to be well received by the electorate and the media, even though Howard and the Tories labelled it a 'spend now, pay later' budget.

Of course Brown and New Labour should be commended for maintaining a strong economy. Nonetheless there are some points that I don't concur with.

Firstly, government is simply too big. The government released the Budget speech on a PDF file and this file states that the government plan to spend over £500 billion in the financial year 2005/06. This equates with a figure of 40-50% of GDP. I've stated before on this blog that government should spend approximately 10% of GDP.

Secondly, there is still too much red-tape surrounding small businesses. Small business equates with 40% of the economy, so it's not a sector that can be ignored. If New Labour want British people to be more enterprising and entrepenuerial, then having excessive amounts of regulations on small business would only defeat such a vision. People who own small businesses simply desire to trade and make a profit.

Sunday, 13 March 2005

British economic decline reversal

This isn't really a libertarian-related thread, albeit I thought I'll post it.

In the 1950's and 1960's, it was felt that the UK economy was not growing as fast other major industrialised economies. At the end of WWII, the UK still was the largest economy in Europe. In 1960, it had been overtaken by (what was then) West Germany. This relative decline continued until the 1970's, when an IMF bailout and industrial unrest occured.

Since then though, the British economy has performed well in relation to the other big European economies. In the 1980's UK GDP averaged 2-2.5%, which was essentially the same as France, Germany and Italy. In the 1970's UK GDP averaged only 1-2% (in Germany, France and Italy it was 3-5%). In the 1990's, UK GDP averaged 2-2.5% again, which this time was slightly higher than France, Germany and Italy. Over the past ten years, British GDP growth has outpaced those of the other major European economies. In 1990, the UK had the 6th largest GDP in the world. In 2004, it was the 4th largest.

What is the reason for this reversal? It generally can be attributed to the Thatcher reforms of the economy in the 1980's. The Conservative governments' at the time implemented a monetarist economic policy, curbed the power of the trade unions, privatised state industry and liberalised the labour market. The Conservative Major government and New Labour under Tony Blair have largely accepted these reforms.

So even though Thathcer is 'detested' by the British people (to be frank I'm not a major fan of hers), her governments' probably were responsible for Britain's presently solid economic state.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

PM blasts Lords' for voting against the Anti-Terror Bill

Supposedly Tony Blair is angry at the House of Lords for blocking the Anti-Terror Bill. He states that if the Bill doesn't pass through the House of Lords it would be 'irresponsible'. Personally I fail to see the justification for such a bill.

Is it really worth risking civil liberties for extra 'security'? The government state there is a 'threat' to the United Kingdom from Islamist terrorists. However, they have failed to substantiate the nature of this threat. Evidently Blair and the Cabinet feel that these Islamists 'hate our freedom' and are determined to undermine and annihilate our liberal democracy. US President Bush often cites this reason. Has it ever been proven that this is the case? I don't believe so. Yes, some strains of fundamentalist Islam probably do not approve of liberal democracy, nonetheless no one has attempted to explain why now (the UK has displayed elements of liberal democracy since the 19th century) Islamists supposedly want to destroy our democractic system.
The Blog

It's been over two months since I last updated this blog. This is mainly due to laziness, to be honest. Hopefully I can find the mental energy to update this more regularly.