I find myself thinking, once again, in terms of leaflets. In particular I had an idea to produce a postcard with policy statements on the writable side. Check boxes might invite the owner to tick the boxes they agree with and share and compare what they ticked with other people. On the glossy side? Something eye catching and simple.
Here are the policy statements. Are they in the right order? What would you include?
1. Lifestyle Choice
People should be free to live as they please within a legal framework that leaves them personally accountable for the consequences. Drug consumption, smoking, salt, alcohol, fat consumption, sex, pornography, gender identity and the meaning of marriage are not matters that affect others unless they are drawn in by problems in our institutional arrangements. Introduce personal accountability in the health system. End state licensing of marriage and marriage venues.
2. Free Speech
Speech logically precedes both society and law and neither should restrain it. With exceptions only for fraud, libel and words that directly incite violence (“burn the witch!”, etc) or cause a panic (“the theatre is on fire!” etc) every other kind of speech is permissible. Individuals have free will and are held to be accountable for their own actions and own state of mind.
3. Minimized Regulation
There is no “one true way” to achieve anything. Most commercial malfeasance is due to perverse laws. Constant experimentation yields better results than permanent political decisions. End prescriptive laws and promote accountability via markets and the Common Law which are better at adapting to a complex changing world.
4. Taxation is Slavery
When the Incas herded their subjects up a hill, to spend the summer building huge stone temples, that was slavery, albeit it part time slavery. Taking 40% of everything you earn is more comfortable, but is still slavery. Likewise, taking a portion of what you own is just slavery applied retrospectively. Move immediately to a simplified flat tax system, abolish non-core Government departments and agencies or move them to the private or voluntary sectors. Switch, eventually, to voluntary taxation and a lottery.
5. The Rule of Law, Not Leaders
The law should apply equally to all, no law should be written to target particular groups be they rich, scary or unpopular. Laws should target criminals – those that use force or fraud. Ministers must not try to run things though threats and innuendo. If we have to have leaders we want Theory Y leaders who advise and facilitate, not rule.
6. Price signals not command and control
Command economies fail everywhere they are tried. Venezuela ran out of toilet paper because it fixed the price below the profitable level. Lakes were poisoned in Eastern Europe because Russia declared that whole countries must grow cotton. Let society choose what to do by the mechanism of supply and demand, communicated by voluntarily agreed prices.
7. Property Rights
Many sources of social tension can be resolved with reference to the rules of ownership. If a room in a pub is occupied it is up to the owner to decide if you have the better claim to using it. If one user wants to smoke it should be up to the landlord if his staff should serve drinks in there, and up to his staff to decide if they want to stay – since they own themselves. End laws which undermine the ability of property owners, of every kind, to control their property.
8. Honest Money
Changing the quantity of money changes its value. Changing the value of money changes the outcome of decisions that have already been made about debt and credit. Monetary stimulus forces business to into errors, confusing new money with new demand and leads to investment decisions that can be catastrophic for the whole economy. Governments do all of these things regularly and have shown they cannot be trusted to have exclusive control of money. End legal tender laws, remove barriers to printing notes, and accept any remaining taxes in physical commodities.
9. Drug Legalisation
People should be punished by their sins, not for them, unless they directly impact another person. Aside from that principle, it is ridiculous to ban honest law abiding people from such a valuable trade and expect a positive outcome. The outcome of the “War on Drugs” has been profoundly negative. Stop it. Try something else.
We must be armed and ready to defend ourselves, and our shipping. We must have effective policies about preempting attacks, but we should stick to existing commitments to refrain from wars of aggression. We should avoid entangling ourselves in remote battles which we are unable to properly understand.
11. Free Trade
The division of labour is an incredible boon to human life, on a par with the invention of language. Trade enables us to take advantage of dispersed knowledge and resources and to save time which we can then use to achieve more. Anyone might learn to make a charcoal stick. Nobody knows how to make a pencil. Pencils, and all the amazing complex inventions on the market are only possible through trade. Locally or internationally, why would you ever restrict it?
12. Open Borders
We should have the same expectations about personal accountability for foreign people as we do for local people, but offer them the same liberty to live as and where they please. Economically, there is little difference of principle between importing goods and importing labour except importing labour may be more efficient and should lead to a general rise in prosperity. Greater liberty to trade and speak as you please may lead to minor acts of unpleasantness in the short term but more genuine, stronger social cohesion will quickly emerge.