Libertarian meat eater, right wing in the sense of conservative with a small c.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Corporate Manslaughter

There has been, for many years, a call for companies to be more responsible for safety and welfare of their employees. Cases such as as the decapitation of Simon Jones have lead to ever greater regulation of Health and Safety at work and the pathetically toothless Corporate Manslaughter Bill.

The reason that the act is so ineffective is that there is no individual liability, (see clause 18 of the bill), and as a result no "mens rea", (a controlling, guilty mind), so even if someone is responsible for a death through criminal negligence, the company effectively shelters them.

A better way forward would surely be to remove the tedious, time wasting and economically detrimental reams of forms and replace them with a law that focused on the controlling mind. To that end I suggest that each company have to nominate a safety director who would be criminally responsible in the event of a failure to take reasonable steps to prevent injury to their employees.

It would be for the prosecution to prove that the reasonable steps had not been taken, (yes, more onerous but if you believe in justice then reversing the burden of proof is unconscionable), and there would be an extra defence in full; if the safety director had brought problems to the board and then been overruled, he/she would escape liability but the rest of the board would be liable.

Given that this approach would identify the mens rea, I would expect the sentencing to reflect that of manslaughter by gross negligence, which is to say, a prison term determinate on the severity of the negligence.

All those with bright ideas welcome on this one, there may well be consequences to this that I have not thought through but it seems like an elegantly efficient way of dealing with employer responsibilities.

A rare event...

...sanity in the Grauniad. I don't know if just because there seems to be lots of Brown kicking going on over there but the article from Paul Corry is a step in the right direction. There is no justification for Cannabis to be reclassified as a class B drug, indeed I can see no motivation for doing so apart from the OEGK wanting to look like a hard man. You have to be out when Mr Sane calls to launch a study on the effects of a policy and then on getting the results that show what you want to do will make matters worse, insist on doing so anyway.

However, given the bizarre numptiness of the "War on Drugs", perhaps we shouldn't be so astonished. The vast majority of harm from all drugs comes from their illegality. From both Libertarian and Utilitarian viewpoints all drugs should be legalised, licenced and taxed to account for negative externalities.

There is only one party willing to make the changes, so obvious in their beneficial effects, that are required. You will find the Libertarian Party UK here.

And behold a pale horse...

...and his name that sat on him was Puritan.

The new "Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill" becomes law on the 8th of May. One part of this bill is of particular concern as it criminalises the possession of "Violent and extreme pornography" in a very wide ranging way. In fact the act means that if you partake in some somewhat kinky activities that are entirely legal, you will commit a criminal offence, (and one carrying a nasty stigma), if you should take a photograph of yourself doing so.

This terrible piece of legislation, criminalising those with tastes outside the mainstream but who have done no harm, was inspired by the sad case of Jane Longhurst who was murdered by Graham Coutts. He killed her by strangulation as part of a very fucked up attempt to get off and the fact that he had been looking at "horrific images" the day before the murder convinced Jane's mother to campaign to make the images illegal.

Mrs. Longhurst was helped in this endeavour by her MP, Martin Salter and the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett. I can understand her desperate desire to lower the chance that someone else's daughter will suffer the same fate as Jane but there are fundamental reasons why this is not the way to go about it:

The Bill criminalises the photographing of legal behavior.

It is a further intrusion of the state into peoples private lives and bedrooms.

There has been no showing of a causal link between Coutt's viewing pornography the previous day and his subsequent actions. Many people must view images that most would tend to view as peculiar to say the least, there is not a corresponding rampage of subsequently depraved.

Porn has been known to act as a substitute rather than a route to physical experience, by banning such porn you have at least as much chance of increasing attacks as you do of preventing them.

The classification of porn is notoriously difficult, I don't think that "whatever gives the Judge an erection" will work as a definition for this stuff.

There will be, just as with the calamity that has been Operation Ore, horrendous miscarriages of justice.


I'll leave you with this from Deborah Hyde of Backlash:


"How many tens or hundreds or thousands of people are going to be dragged into a police station, have their homes turned upside down, their computers stolen and their neighbours suspecting them of all sorts?

Such "victims" won't feel able to fight the case and will take a caution, before there are enough test cases to prove that this law is unnecessary and unworkable"

Thursday, 24 April 2008

First they came for....

the tokers, and I was rather irritated because I like the odd toke.

Then they came for them as likes shrooms, and was narked because they are silly and fun.

Then they came for the protesters, and my blood boiled with furious indignation at the bastards.

Then they came for the smokers, and as they ripped away our liberty they told us that they were giving us more.

Now they're coming for the drinkers, and they may have made a mistake here.

If there's one thing the British won't tolerate it's people fucking around with their pints.


JUST YOU BLOODY TRY IT!

Monday, 21 April 2008

Not quite what he mean't to say

The OEGK has come out of his shell to defend his decision to remove the 10% tax band and admits that the plan has sparked "debate", (hilarious lefty infighting and massive unpopularity would be closer to the mark). He also said this:

"We have done more as a Government in the last 50 years for poverty than any other government."

Well yes, it's true that he keeps shifting the tax burden ever more onto the poor but I don't think that's what he was trying to say.

Quickie on "Utter Bollocks"

I get the New Scientist each week, (despite it's take on global warming that doesn't bother to look at the science but howls out propaganda instead), and it is usually interesting. This week they've managed to piss me off so much I may well feed their editorial team through a shredder:

"Alcohol is responsible for 16% of Europe's cases of child abuse and neglect,"

No you shit for brains fuckwits, the people abusing or neglecting are responsible for 100% of it, pissed or sober. Alcohol is a thing, not a thinking being and cannot "be responsible" for people's actions or anything else.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Quotable quotes part 1

With ever more examples of attempted social engineering such as "Utter Bollocks" we should bear the following in mind:

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

(Justice Louis D. Brandeis)

An obviously evil tyrant is easy to oppose, (winning that opposition is something else), those who by genuine belief or deception wish to take away our Liberties "for our own good" are harder to contend with. Throughout history, (in the UK at least), it has been the obvious tyrants we have faced as the greater danger. Now that that route is closed, it is no surprise to see them take the road less traveled but the destination, our lives under their control, is the same.

The problem is "Salami Tactics", (see 1.20 in), each little erosion of Liberty is seen as not worth bothering with but they add up over time and before you know it you have nothing left. Instead of a Nuclear Option, we must resist each time those in power attempt to take away our remaining Liberties and demand back those they have stolen from us.

Personal responsibility and utter, utter cunts

Having bullied and mislead the populace into banning smoking in "public" places, (a pub is privately owned for instance), those who believe that they must protect you from your own idiocy have a new concept. They have come up with "Passive Drinking", (hereafter referred to as "Utter Bollocks") to help them control another aspect of your life. Their argument is that pissed people do a great deal of harm, not only to themselves but also to others.

The above is not in dispute, (although their figures and data collection methods will be when I can find them), but sober people do a great deal of harm as well. There is a convention in English law, (and I assume many other jurisdictions as well), that if you willingly ingest substances that affect your behavior, that is no defence for any criminal actions you undertake while in that state. So if you take a swing at someone and the next morning you don't even remember doing so, that is no defence, (unlike the Lockeian view).

One of the major problems with "Utter Bollocks" is that it blames the drink not the person for their behavior. If someone spikes your drink, (an occurrence much rarer than believed but it does happen), then you have a defence because you did not willingly get yourself into a state. If you choose to drink a bottle of vodka and then throw up on someone you have to face the consequences of your actions.

I find "Utter Bollocks" repugnant on both sides of Libertarianism. You should be free to ingest whatever you desire, equally you must be held responsible for your actions if you willingly enter such a state. I view the promoters of "Utter Bollocks" as nasty little shits, keen to control our lives because of the satisfaction it gives them and keener still to infantilise us to make that job easier. I suggest they go take a running jump into a pit of chili oiled spikes.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Through the looking glass

We had a friend over for dinner last night and as the conversation does tend to when I'm around, we got onto politics. She made a statement that made me slightly aghast regarding taxation:

"I don't resent paying taxes because I don't view the money as mine in the first place"

Admittedly she works in the public sector but when I pressed that point she insisted that whether in public or private employment, she still feels the same way. Her argument was that employers pay according to what they can afford in order to get someone to do the job and she would be just as happy with her post tax income whether under the current situation or receiving a lower pay packet that was not taxed. It's a fair enough point on one level, if I give you £1 it makes no difference if I hand over one coin or give you a fiver and demand £4 change.

At this point vodka and a vital game of Halo 2 intervened so I let the subject drop. However I believe that her view is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. The situation described above is not what is going on. Instead of being offered £1 and paying change, you are being offered £5 and a third party, (government taxation), comes in and nabs £4. The fact that so much money goes into the pathetically inefficient government coffers, (see diseconomies of scale), makes us all poorer and depresses wages and GDP growth. A cut in, or abolition of, income tax does not allow employers to drop their wages because they would lose their staff to competitors. It would however, make us richer.

The other problem I have with her view is that by not seeing your pre tax wages as your money you have no incentive to hold the government to account for wasting your hard earned dosh. "What they've just wasted £X Billion on idiotic IT projects? Well I don't care it's not like they're wasting my money.", but they are. The money you earn is yours to keep unless there is a very good justification otherwise. Government should be held accountable for every damn penny they extort from us because the best person to spend your money is you.


The other weird view for this post comes from Neil "I fail to understand the basic concepts of Liberty" Harding, who is raging against the rumour that Boris wants to overturn the smoking ban in London, (not that he has the power to do so but it seems that all the candidates enjoy promising things they have no power to deliver, so we'll forgive him that one).

Neil, of course supports the smoking ban on the basis that he likes to go to places that are not filled with smoke. Fair enough but what takes the biscuit is that Neil has previously argued that the smoking ban increases Liberty and this time has come up with another gem:

"If you think this is a civil liberties issue (it isn't)"

Yes it is. It is obvious that it is because it's a restriction on peoples behavior on privately owned property whether or not the owner wishes such behavior to be allowed. I have argued with Neil about positive and negative liberty before and he seems unable or unwilling to grasp the point that a ban on things that do not cause harm to others, (even if you believe that passive smoking is the very scourge of the devil then you are not forced to go into smoky environments), cannot enhance but only diminish Liberty. By all means, support the smoking ban because you don't like your local to be smoky, or because you just hate smokers, or because you a nasty, sanctimonious little cunt but don't deny that it is a civil Liberties issue nor that it reduces Liberty.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Premises and Prejudices

I was wondering through the joyously batty world that is Liberal Conspiracy and found this little gem of an argument. That the BNP has some support is, for many, a great cause for concern and given that the BNP are nasty little tits that's no great surprise. My view is that reasoned argument can show the little beggars to be the scum they are so that should be encouraged but others prefer to go down the less liberal course of denying them the oxygen of publicity. Which is all very well but it's in the comments that things get interesting.

Nick kicks off with this: "The BNP, for all its rhetoric, is really just another faction of the far left" and links to a Samizdata article comparing the Green's manifesto to what you would expect of the BNP.

Sunny responds with this: "The BNP is right-wing not left-wing because its principle policies are social values, not economic values. Its pernicious because of its ultra-conservative and racist social attitudes. Frankly its economic policies, socialist in nature they may be, are irrelevant."

The above shows two views that are not simply irreconcilable but don't even connect in any fashion that could be a basis for argument.

Question That sums thing up rather neatly further down the page:

"Samizdata and other libertarians are up for lumping the BNP in with left, on the grounds that their economic policies are somewhat socialistic and their attitudes are more collectivistic than individualistic. In other words, not without some justification.

Others use conflate being ‘right-wing’ with being racist and having other BNP-type attitudes, rather than believing in maximal individual liberty (or, as Nick puts it, minimising state interference)."

For the record I think that Nick's point of view is far more reasoned that Sunny's. Not only is it impossible to completely separate economic and social policies but the idiocy of conflating "Right Wing" with "Racist" makes my blood boil. There are racist and non racists on either side of the political fence and it is a separate belief that has little to do with any other political affiliation.

The flawed logic of Sunny's position, (skip if you don't like logic), is:

Some As are Bs, therefore only As are Bs. I and others of my affiliation are not As therefore we cannot be Bs. The twat, (not part of the formal logic).

I think the basic problem is that Sunny and many other lefties simply take a basket, put anything they like in it and declare anything else to be right wing. If there's another expanation for their behavior I'd like to hear it

That's another fine mess you've got me into

There's been a lot of wittering on the subject of the expected housing market crash with various people running around claiming the world is about to end and others offering ever more stupid solutions. The first thing is to define the problem:

"Credit is getting harder to obtain and as a result many people's largest asset will decline in value"

This obviously leads to various follow on problems from struggling to pay the mortgage to negative equity. These problems may be tragic but they are inevitable, when a bubble bursts people lose money. It's not as if there has been no warning, everyone who bothered to look at the odd newspaper couldn't help but be aware that the housing boom would eventually become unsustainable. If you mortgage to the hilt when there is cheap credit then only a small increase in price, (and at the moment credit is still fairly cheap historically), will fuck your finances quicker than handing them over to the badger that supposedly runs our economy.

We have known for some time that house prices were so far ahead of earnings, (especially after the One Eyed Goblin King got his hands on your pay packet), that those entering the market were doing so on the wing and prayer of cheap credit. It was worth their while doing so because they knew that the market, despite having shot beyond any rational valuation, was still rising. At such a time it becomes a rational policy to buy overvalued goods because they're going to become more overvalued and therefore you can win out. However, because such overvaluing is subject to serious downgrading from minor shocks, (the US sub prime debacle wasn't in and of itself such a disaster, it was the loss of confidence in the system as a result that has caused the credit crunch), these gamblers are now set to lose their shirts.

That's the way things work in every bubble from the South Seas onwards, (and I'm sure before then as well), and predictably, like Cnut our Lords and Masters are trying to hold back the tide.
Their plan has so many flaws it has similar qualities to Tracy Emin's "art", (got I hate the puerile shit she produces). If the government offer too little for the securities the banks wont be interested, if they offer too much then the taxpayer takes the hit, (not that they're averse to that situation), and if they get the price right on the button then we all lose money anyway because of the costs of administering it. It's another, "Things are fucked up lets do something, anything!!!" situation which will only make matters worse by wasting our money.

Still it's not all bad news, there will come a time when house prices come back down to sane levels, my generation, (loosely speaking), will have some hope of affording one and we wont have to hear any more bollocks about affordable housing quotas.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Libertarian Philosophy 101

I do like the Devil's view that Libertarian philosophy stems from the position that you own yourself. It's a position that is very hard to dispute because it turns other positions on their heads. How can you honestly argue against that and not justify slavery at the same time?

One of the attempts to square this unquadrilatable circle is to argue that while no individual may make a claim on another that is not freely entered into it is ethically possible for governments to make such demands. This position is abhorrent to libertarianism as shown by this quote from Daniel Klein, (Via EconLog):

"In the eyes of the libertarian, everything the government does that would be deemed coercive and criminal if done by any other party in society is still coercive. For example, imagine that a neighbor decided to impose a minimum-wage law on you. Since most government action, including taxation, is of that nature, libertarians see government as a unique kind of organization engaged in wholesale coercion, and coercion is the treading on liberty."

I view any demands backed by force that interfere with the liberty of the individual to be unethical unless they are made in order to protect the liberty of others, (Note to idiots - positive liberty is no such thing).

We have to accept that any society as large as ours requires some form of government but that it should interfere with our lives to the minimum degree, (hence minarchism). There is a constant creep of greater power going to those in government that must be either continually resisted or occasionally wound back which is both more difficult and more disruptive. Sadly, our successive governments have failed to uphold liberty and therefore we must reverse the slide or live as slaves of the state.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Discrimination

As I was wandering through the blogs I found this piece by the inestimable Longrider ripping into an article by Jackie Ashley of the Grauniad. The thrust of Ms Ashley's witterings is that politics is dominated by men and that is a very bad thing indeed. Now, I agree that it would be a very positive move to have more women involved in politics and that there is no reason I can see for criticizing women more than men for a lack of sartorial elegance. However, Dear Ceilingcat, how she does pick her examples of the unjustly derided:

Jackie begins with the condescension from a number of people regarding Harriet "Fuckwit" Harman doing PMQs. Yes she is the deputy leader of the Labour Party. No she has shown nothing but incompetence after imbecility. Is it any surprise that she is derided when she organised a donation to her campaign from her husband, (in the form of a mortgage extension on a jointly owned property), and failed to declare it despite the fact that her husband was the Labour Party Treasurer.

We then move on to Wendy "I'm not corrupt, really I'm not, look, despite admitting that I broke the law I've been cleared" Alexander.

Next up we have the delightful Jacqui "Lets lock up people for 42 days without charge. What do you mean that would require some justification?" Sith.

Jackie's last example is the terrible Hilary "Yes, I was nearly shot by snipers" Clinton.

All the women above have come under fire from the media but given how pathetically shit they are how is this surprising? Jackie's comparison, the frequently unclad Carla Bruni, differs not because she is a rather attractive lady but because she is not a politician and has not demonstrated a level of incompetence on par with being unable to tie shoelaces.


Having made a pigs ear of her argument on prominent women in politics Jackie then goes on to chastise blogging as "dominated by rightwing male individualists and libertarians." and on this she does seem to be correct. There are relatively few women bloggers of note although the excellent Trixy and the ever so sweary Emerald Bile are outstanding exceptions. The high traffic blogs do however tend to be rightwing, individualist, libertarian and male.

The argument needs to be broken down into two parts though; Why rightwing / individualist / libertarian? and why male?

The answer to first is fairly obvious at least as far as Libertarians and individualists go. There is no other outlet to be found. The papers and commercial TV show little interest being more intent on scare and scandal. The Beeb identifies much more with socialist paternalism than any other philosophy and so is hardly likely to lend it's support. People will speak where they can and if Libertarians had access to the newspapers and were confined to them, you would get the same sort of representation that you see now in blogging.

Why male, both in blogging and politics, is a far more tricky question that positively encourages one to race to pseudoscience 101 for answers. What we can say is that men are far more likely to be interested, to have their own blog or to stand for a political party. I don't know why women are less interested as a whole and I fervently wish that it was not the case. It would be far better for our parliament to be represented by an approximation of society than a highly skewed version. There have been various, (thoroughly illiberal), attempts to address this imbalance, (most recently the Tories vile, corrupt and stupid EMP selection process), and they all have a terrible side effect, we get morons like Jackie's examples rising to positions well beyond their competence.

To see why take this example: We have a situation where only 1 in 100,000 left handers are entering politics whereas 1 in every 10,000 right handers enter. We know nothing about these people other than their handedness but we have decided that we need more lefthanders to be representative. Due to us gifting more position for the lefthanders 10 people compete for each position, the righthanders to get a similar position must compete against 5,000. The obvious problem is that less competition will tend to produce less able winners.

Of course women make up slightly over 50% of the population, (men have an annoying tendency to die early), but since so few go into politics there is a limited field of candidates. This is not to say that the men will be superb, (see all too damn many of them), but the last woman in the Commons that I had any significant respect for was Betty Boothroyd as speaker, (she was genuinely brilliant, not just better than that Fulmar's eruption we have now).

So what is the solution? The under representation of women is not desirable and the fixes have been disastrous, (as so many top down solutions are). I think that the only possible solution is for those interested in politics, (mostly men), to make an effort to encourage those women they know to get involved as well. Will it be a quick fix? Decidedly not. Might it actually work? In time it may help redress the balance.

Anyone with bright ideas on this please leave them in the comments.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Carnival of the Libertarians

Thank the Devil I have been quoted on the Carnival of Libertarians. Rather a good collection altogether. Please go and have a look.