Sunday, April 17, 2005

HOORAY! AN ELECTION!

OK, sorry people. I promised to be more diligent about maintaining the blog, and I haven't been here for weeks! Well, first I spent about a week with the folks, then when I got back to Nottingham, I both irreperably damaged my computer (I was trying to make space, deleted files, and, gee, musta needed them, cos it wouldn't come back on!), and lost my central heating as my pilot light went out, and I still haven't been able to relight it. Anyway, I replaced the computer, and spent hundreds of pounds getting reconnected - but then the new coldness in the house contributed to a bout of flu!

But now... IIII'm baaaaack!!!

And right in the middle of a general election! So, what to do? Who to vote for? Well, I can honestly say I don't know. Certainly not Labour. They are disgusting to the extreme! There "Private Finance Initiative" plot to get business to underwrite government failures, with no intention of maintining any long-term provision, has given big business and financiers a vested interest in maintaining big government.

On foreign policy, they first of all got us into a war without any truthful basis. Whatever you feel about how evil Saddam Husein was, and how the Iraqi regime needed to end, that was not the reason we went to war, why people were killed - the reason was the threat of attack on British interests with, and the very existence of "weapons of mass disfunction." These turned out to be weapons of mass deception, as they didn't exist and there was little legal basis for the war at all. On top of this, though, the war, and its context have been used by the labour government to justify the biggest clamp down on civil liberties for ages, with house arrests, trials without juries, imprisonment without trial, withholding evidence from suspects or not telling them the charges.

And then the return of the nanny state - it is a nanny state and a police state in one! Libertarians used to say to drug prohibitionists, "you wanna ban drugs 'cause they are bad for people? Well so are burgers... you wanna ban them?" Well, the Labour party turned round and said "yes"! My god, Macdonalds sell salads and bagels now! Burgers make you fat. They kill you. I know. But you know what? I don't care - Just because it is dangerous doesn't mean I don't get the right to do it! Pay attention: IT'S MY LIFE!!! Like Americans used to say Don't tread on me!

But the tories are no better. How hard is it to keep a hospital clean? Well, actually I imagine it is quite hard. I would be interested to see the comparison between NHS hospitals and private ones for rates of occurenceof MRSA. However, I doubt that Michael Howard could do anything about it. Give Matrons more power, yeah - same as giving head teachers more power to run their schools. Right, decentralise... but in the end, the only way to co-ordinate the actions of thousands of decentralised groupings without recentralising them is through the market mechanism... but no party is going to deliver that kind of reform for the NHS!!!

And then they want to clamp down on Gypsies who have bought their own land, but can't build on it because the council decides what you can do with your property and takes years to decide what it will let you do. Tories championing the cause of councils controling people's property against those who break the state's laws to control what is there own is great! It really lets people know the difference between libertarians and tories.

And then they want to close the borders! "We have too many immigrants!" Yeah? How do you know? Did you go, "three more, two more, one more... right! That's it, we don't need any more"?! Public services can't cope with the numbers? Yeah, that's because they are public services! I don't see Richard Branson saying "Oh, life is terrible - I have too many customers!" On the market, when demand rises, it itself causes an increase in supply because the new demand causes prices to rise or sales to increase, which encourages suppliers. They cheer when they get new business. The state growns! Public resources can't cope with immigrants because they are public! Sure, strict moslems represent a threat to our freedom - but part of what a free society means is that people in it don't have to support a free society. "We want a free society, so you we get to drive you out if you don't think right"? Nonsense! What is needed to protect liberty against the political influences of moslems is a proper constitutional order. And then the tories supported the war, too - seeming to oppose it now to get votes. They ooze creepy opportunism.

And Lib Dem? If Lib Dem were an effective opposition, then we would have the Labour party of both benches! The only good position they have is to oppose the war. They are an old fashioned tax and spend party. That means they think the best way to fight poverty and give people what they want is by reducing the production of things that people want to spend their money on, choosing to spend it on things that people don't want to spend it on, diverting millions of it to various bureacrats, civil servants, lobbyists and special interests on the way, and reducing production of everything over all. They want to change council tax, but do so under the pretense that making it more expensive to earn a high income than a low one is more fair! And they said that the government wasn't doing enough to deal with the obesity crisis. And 14 of their MPs couldn't be bothered to turn up and vote against the Government's bill to put people under house arrest!

UKIP? Well, I spose that withdrawal from the EU would scrap about half the regulations and crap that the British people now work under. But, again, I am suspiscious of their policy on immigration.

Respect? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Commies!

So. Nobody to vote for. Again. All these people earnestly trying to get me interested and excited about who is going to be doin this job that I don't think there is any need for anybody to be doing. I am fairly convinced that all government is unnecessary, so seeing these people bickering and trying to get excited about who gets to be government is just kind of ridiculous to me.

That is not to say that I would definitely not ever vote. I have read manifestos that I would vote for, and know of people I would vote for. If I was an American, I might have voited for Harry Browne. I like his radio shows. On the issues of the morality of voting, I am aware of the argument that it legitimises government, but I don't buy it. Sure, I agree that by virtue of vicarious liability (the same principle upon which we blame Hitler for the extermination of six million Jews, or getaway drivers for robbing a bank, or Charles Manson for murder) voters can be blamed for the actions of the people they voted for. But I don't see entirely why, if I vote for someone to reduce government, I can therefore be said to be endorsing government.

Like Lysander Spooner wrote,

In truth, in the case of individuals their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent. . . . On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money renders service, and foregoes the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he uses the ballot, he may become a master, if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defense, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot—which is a mere substitute for a bullet—because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. . . .

Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot would use it, if they could see any chance of meliorating their condition. But it would not, therefore, be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or even consented.


I think this is fairly convincing - voting is not necessarily a sign of endorsing the state, it does not legitimate state actions, especially when voters try to do it to reduce state power. As Murray Rothbard concluded, based on Spooner's quote,

Many anarchist libertarians claim it immoral to vote or to engage in political action–the argument being that by participating in this way in State activity, the libertarian places his moral imprimatur upon the State apparatus itself. But a moral decision must be a free decision, and the State has placed individuals in society in an unfree environment, in a general matrix of coercion. The State—unfortunately—exists, and people must necessarily begin with this matrix to try to remedy their condition. As Lysander Spooner pointed out, in an environment of State coercion, voting does not imply voluntary consent.3 Indeed, if the State allows us a periodic choice of rulers, limited though that choice may be, it surely cannot be considered immoral to make use of that limited choice to try to reduce or get rid of State power.


So, I disagree that voting is immoral - though going around saying "politicians can't be trusted to protect our freedom, so vote for us and we'll give your liberty back" is kind of a contradiction to.

Here's my plan: I built a questionaire against which I can test politicians. It is based on the famous test from the Advocates for Self-Government, but fleshed out, and given more range for agreement or disagreement with the issues. As with their test, it is divided into "social issues" and "economic issues". When politicians or their representatives come canvasing, dig it out and test them on it. Go for the party that scores closest to the libertarian corner on the chart at the bootom:

Personal Issues

Score your response to each statement according to how much you agree with it – e.g. 5 for strongly agree, 0 for strongly disagree.

1) People should be allowed to follow their own religions in peace and privacy

2) Contraception and fertility are entirely a matter for the individual. Women should be allowed contraception and abortions

3) Voluntary euthanasia should be legal

4) Government should not censor speech, press, media or Internet

5) People should be able to discriminate on whatever basis they like, so long as they don’t harm person or property

6) Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft or conscription of people or their resources

7) There should be no laws regarding sex for consenting adults

8) Drugs should be legal. Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs

9) People should be allowed to eat junk food, even if it makes them unhealthily fat, or obese.

10) Government shouldn’t stop people choosing to smoke, eat, drink, or inject whatever they like on the property of someone willing to allow them to do so

11) Crimes should be seen only as offences against individuals, and not against “society” or any social institution

12) There should be no restriction on people’s ability to purchase and own any kind of weapon.

13) The government should only wage war or intervene overseas in order to protect the British people from invasion by a more despotic or tyrannical regime

14) There should be no National ID card

15) All immigration controls should be abolished and replaced with private property controls on entry.

Find your average score for personal issues by adding each of your scores together and then dividing the total by the number of question, i.e. 15. You may need a calculator. Then multiply the total by twenty.

Economic Issues

Score your response to each statement according to how much you agree with it – e.g. 5 for strongly agree, 0 for strongly disagree.

1) The state should stop using taxes to fund sports, arts and culture

2) The state should not restrict people’s ability to sell or buy drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or fattening foods

3) The state should stop using taxes to subsidise industry. End "corporate welfare." No government handouts to business

4) There should be no prohibition on the sale of sexual services by adults

5) End government barriers to international free trade

6) There should be no state ownership or direction of general commercial activity

7) There should be no state ownership or direction of utilities or transport

8) There should be no state ownership or direction of the media

9) There should be no state ownership or direction of the production of money, finance, banking etc.

10) There should be no state-mandated wage or price levels.

11) There should be no state funded foreign aid

12) People should acquire education on the market or through private charity or mutual aid associations and co-operatives

13) Let people control their own retirement; scrap the state pension

14) Replace government welfare with private insurance, private charity and mutual aid associations or co-operatives.

15) Roads and streets should be privately owned and regulated

16) Environmental problems should be dealt with by allowing and enforcing private property
17) Taxation is theft: Abolish it. Anybody who thinks that the government should have greater revenue should be free to donate as much as they want to it.

18) The governments monopoly on the law, its enforcement and adjudication should be ended and opened up to competition.

Find your average score for Economic issues by adding each of your scores together and then dividing the total by the number of question, i.e. 18. You may need a calculator. Then multiply the total by twenty.


Cross reference your economic score and your personal score on the chart below to find your political position.




Since in reality issues cannot be cut between social and economic issues so clearly (is prostitution an issue of economic liberty or of personal liberty? Is immigration or emigration ton find work a personal or economic issue?), try simply asking whether your position is more or less authoritarian, or more or less libertarian. To do this, add your average scores together. The higher the total, the more libertarian you are. The lower it is, the more authoritarian.

So try this test with your candidates for government.


... Or on the other hand, just vote for your best friend!

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