Monday, 26 October 2015

Why Should We Tolerate Bad Government?

(From the archives - January 9th, 2006)

If you hired a private security firm to protect your possessions, and they failed to do what they had promised, what would you do? And what if that security firm demanded huge and ever increasing amounts, which they used for purposes that brought no nett benefit to you?

Would you terminate the contract? Would you look for another firm you could trust better? Would you tell your friends about their misconduct? Would you warn people not to deal with them? Or would you just continue paying up, year after year after year, until they have drained you dry?

Suppose, again, that you hired a private security firm to defend you and your freedoms against violent aggressors. Suppose, then, that a violent aggression happened, that took many lives. Suppose, too, that the security firm had culpably failed to act on the warning signals before the attack. And perhaps even, by their deeds, had encouraged the attack?

Would you sue them for negligence? Would you vow to make sure that they are never again allowed to peddle their less-than-worthless wares? Or would you accept them putting more and more restrictions on you, in the name of protecting you against future attacks? Would you accept them killing the very freedoms you had hired them to defend?

If you hired a security firm to protect you, and they did lots of things that weren't in the contract, what would you do? Particularly if a lot of what they did was hostile to you. Like, re-distributing your earned wealth to others? Trying to ruin your career? Draining the economy? Pressing for any busybody agenda that might bring them an excuse for more power over you? Hemming you in with whatever bad regulations they decided to dream up, often supported by arbitrary limits to make it easier to catch you out? Taking away your rights to enjoy the pleasures you have earned? Putting obstacles in the way of your progress? Spying on you? Stopping and searching you on a whim? Treating you like an object or a number, instead of as a human being?

What if, on top of all that, they did things that no civilized human being would ever do – like murdering innocent people, and covering up what had happened? What if they acted like the very criminals they were supposed to be protecting you against?

And what if they tried to excuse their actions with lies and rationalizations? What if they took noble-sounding ideals – like health, safety, security, the environment, fighting poverty – and set them up as idols, fraudulently making them out to be higher causes that overrode your rights as a human being? What if they tried to scare you, or to manipulate you through propaganda, into believing that what they were doing to you was for your own good?

Would you – beyond suing them for damages, of course – press for harsh criminal penalties against them? Would you censure them for their uncivilized acts? Would you reject their lies and dishonesties, and encourage others to do likewise? Or would you stay silent, and accept their felonies, their ruses and their excuses?

If you hired a security firm to defend you, and they tried to arrogate to themselves rights to do things they denied to you – for example, that their operatives may carry guns, but you may not – what would you do?

Would you point out that you are their subscriber, not their subject? That they are supposed to be your servants, not your masters? Would you make it clear that the only right you have delegated to them is a part of your right of self-defence? Or would you kow-tow to them as if they were a superior species to you, and had rights to do things you didn't?

If you hired a security firm to defend you, and they claimed a right to make armed assaults on other security firms and their subscribers, what would you do?

Would you tell them, in no uncertain terms, to concentrate solely on what they are supposed to be doing – defending you and your fellow subscribers? Or would you encourage and support their assaults, with the deaths and maimings of innocent people they would cause?

If all the security firms in your area got together and formed one huge, lawless cartel, how would you view them? If they purported to compete and to offer you a choice, but in reality were all just part of the same cartel, offering no choice at all, what would you do?

Would you reject their charades? Would you refuse to take part in any scheme that gave them an illusion of legitimacy? Or would you dutifully express a preference for one or another of them? Would you put it on the record that you are satisfied with what the cartel have done and are doing to you? Would you signal your approval of their aggressions, thefts and frauds against innocent people? And would you ask for more of the same?

Do not today's political governments do all these bad things to us? You bet they do. And more. So, I make explicit the question: Why should we tolerate bad government? And I give you my answer. We shouldn't.

More generally, why should we tolerate bad politics? Why should we tolerate a system that is so corrupt, that it cannot produce any government that is anything other than bad? A system that, far from rewarding bullies, thieves and fraudsters with the criminal punishment they deserve, elevates them to positions of power? A system that, far from delivering to human beings the peace, freedom, prosperity and justice we deserve, instead fans wars and conflicts, harasses us, impoverishes us and treats us as less than human?

And I give you my answer again: We shouldn't.

Ah, you may say, I agree with you. But what can we do about it? How do we change things, so governments work for good people, not against us?

For today, I leave answering that question, dear reader, as an exercise for you.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

But What If It Isn't True?

(I found this one in the Rhymer's archives. It comes from June 2009 - pre-Climategate. But, with a certain gab-fest coming up in Paris, it's very relevant today.)

They tell us there’s global warming,
They tell us that we’re to blame.
They tell us to cut emissions,
They want us to give up wealth.
But, power is habit-forming,
And lies are a route to fame.
So, why should we trust Green visions?
They don’t care about our health.

We all have already suffered,
Bad green laws, and taxes too.
They’re taking away our birthright!
They don’t want us to be free.
Yet one thought comes through, unbuffered:
“But what if it isn’t true?”
Of course it ain’t. So, be forthright,
And speak truth and honesty.

Monday, 5 October 2015

How to Identify the Humanity Haters

(Another one from the archives - October 4th, 2005. Almost exactly 10 years ago.)

Sixty-six and some million years ago, dinosaurs ruled the planet. Some of them, like tyrannosaurs, were big and violent. Others were big, slow-moving herbivores. Whichever way, they had dominion over the Earth.

Then came a change. Whether it was a change in the global climate, or an asteroid hit, or something else, we do not know. But the dinosaurs died out. And smaller, more dynamic species suddenly found the world more encouraging. So they began to thrive.

Today, I think, we are in a weirdly similar situation. Big political states, with their institutional violence, theft and fraud, rule the world. Big vested interests, quangos, pressure groups and mass media have power too. Meanwhile, big, staid companies lobby for favours. The small – the individual and the small company – are not respected at all. Today's political system is not helpful or encouraging to us human beings.

But there is change in the air. There's a Renaissance coming. Whether it will happen by change in the mental climate, or by some event which moves large numbers of people suddenly to understand what is going on, or some other way, I do not know. But…

Today, I'm going to identify the dinosaurs. But no, that's not quite accurate. I'm going to identify the humanity haters, that today form the backbones of the tyrannosaur states and other big dinosaur organizations. And I'm going to contrast them with the good guys.

To do that, I must begin with some very general comments about how human beings should relate to each other. First, it is wrong to be malicious, aggressive or dishonest towards others. This is reflected in the institution we call criminal law. Those that maliciously cause harm, or use aggression or fraud against civilized people, deserve not only to be made to compensate their victims, but to suffer punishment in addition.

Second, if we damage others through negligence or irresponsibility, we have an obligation to compensate them. This is what civil law is about. It is about restitution for damage or for nuisances.

Third, we should trade with others. We should offer what we can to others, as long as they provide us with what we see as equivalent value in return. There's a long-standing human institution which supports this, too. It's called the free market.

Fourth, we should try to create as much value as we can. In particular, we must make every possible effort to put in more than we take out. There's supposed to be a human institution to support this as well. It's the system by which individuals' rewards, over the long run, are in proportion to how much good they do. An imperfect version of it used to be called laissez-faire capitalism.

Fifth and last, we should be benevolent towards our fellows – that is to say, those who meet their obligations towards us. We should respect them as individuals. We should respect their rights. We should never intentionally let ourselves become a drain on them. And we should do what we can to help our fellows if they are in need through no fault of their own.

Civilized human beings measure up to these basic human obligations, or at least strive to do so. There are, however some that fail to make the effort to meet these obligations. They may, for example, fail even to try to be productive or constructive. They may be a drain on or a nuisance to us. They may violate our human rights. They may be aggressive, malicious or dishonest. Or they may want to pervert law and justice to their own ends. These are not our fellows; they are our enemies. They are humanity haters.

Within the tyrannosaur states and the large dinosaur organizations, you can find many different subspecies of humanity haters. I will describe some of them for you.

First on the list are the Bullies. If you think of the humanity haters as like a soccer team, then the Bullies are the strikers. I don't need to tell you what Bullies do; look in the dictionary. But it's worth noting that there are two types of Bullies, active and passive. The Bully (Active) is the shock troop, while the Bully (Passive) helps him and eggs him on.

Behind the striking pair, there is the Killjoy. I don't need to say much about what Killjoys do, either. But there's something definitely wrong with those that want to deny others their earned pleasures.

Playing a little deeper, there is the Guilt-tripper. Guilt-trippers are those that try to make us feel guilty for just about anything. If we drive to work rather than walking or taking public transport, for example, or if we don't give lots of money to charity. You have to wonder, though, why are Guilt-trippers so obsessed with guilt? What are they hiding?

Predominantly on the right side of the midfield, is the Meddler. Meddlers like to force us to live the way they want us to, without regard for our individuality. They love to snoop, to intrude, to interfere, to restrict. Regulation for regulation's sake is their favourite pursuit.

Predominantly on the left is the Envier. Enviers hate success, most of all when it has been honestly earned. They hate excellence. And they share the Killjoys' hatred of anything fun.

Behind the Meddler is the Waster. Wasters like huge projects that consume enormous amounts of our resources, without delivering us corresponding benefits, or indeed any benefits at all. They just love wasting our wealth, particularly when some of it finds its way to them.

On the other flank is the Thief. What Thieves love to do is steal and re-distribute our wealth, to finance the schemes of the Bullies, Enviers, Wasters and the other humanity haters.

In central defence are the Obstructor and the Stop-the-Worlder. Obstructors love to put obstacles in people's way, to make our lives more difficult than they need be. Stop-the-Worlders are even more extreme. They hate change. They hate dynamism. They hate progress. The enviro movement, for example, is full of Stop-the-Worlders.

Last, I introduce their captain and goalkeeper – the Rationalizer. All humanity haters are, to some extent, Rationalizers. All mainstream politicians, in particular, are Rationalizers. They claim to care about us; they try to avoid openly showing their hatred for us. They try to make out that whatever it is they are doing to us is for a good cause. For example, health, safety, security, sustainability, improving the environment, fighting crime, helping the needy, eliminating poverty.

But once you start to see these rationalizations for what they are, it becomes increasingly easy to reject them. When you hear a policy proposed that is claimed to be a benefit to people, ask yourself two questions. One, is this an objective benefit to me as an individual? And two, is it a benefit to honest, productive, civilized human beings in general? If the answer to either question is No, you have caught a Rationalizer in the act. You have identified a humanity hater.

And, if you wonder why just about everything today's political governments do seems to be, as one wag put it, "spending a lot of our money while tightening the screws of tyranny a little bit further,” you need wonder no longer. It's because they're a bunch of wasters and bullies. And rationalizers too, of course.

Ask yourself: Who needs the humanity haters? Who needs bullies? Who needs killjoys or guilt-trippers? Who needs meddlers, enviers, wasters, thieves, obstructors or stop-the-worlders? Who needs rationalizers? Why don't we just dump the dinosaurs? Why don't we just reject and ostracize those that don't even try to meet basic human standards like peacefulness, honesty, economic productivity and respect for justice and human rights?

Well, one problem is that a lot of people are still fooled by their rationalizations. So we still have work to do before we can simply shrug them off our shoulders. We have to persuade good people – eventually, very many good people – to see the humanity haters for what they are.

Another problem is that those that hate us have guns, and we don't. But that probably will not matter. Tyrannosaurs had lots of teeth; but that didn't help them. Nor, I believe, can weapons ensure the survival of the tyrannosaur state or the other dinosaurs that depend on it. A dynamic as big as what is happening today – in essence, a re-evaluation of the human condition, the rise of a bottom-up, individualist view of life in opposition to the old top-down, collectivist view – will not be deflected by a few million bullies or by their bullets.

In the meantime, let's do what we can to amuse. In describing the humanity haters, I used the analogy of a soccer team. So let's see what kind of team we could put up against them.

We might have the Lover of Honesty, to outwit the rationalizer. The Lover of Peace and our captain, the Lover of Justice, to defend against the bullies. The Lover of Freedom to tackle the meddler. The Lover of Happiness to mark the killjoy. The Lover of Dynamism and the Lover of Progress, to run at the obstructor and the stop-the-worlder. The Lover of Success, to repel the envier. The Lover of Earned Prosperity, to neutralize the thief. The Lover of Self-esteem to dispossess the guilt-tripper. And the Lover of Competence to run rings round the waster.

I think that might be quite a game of football.