Barry Goldwater: Champion of the Constitution

Barry M Goldwater: a name that should reverberate in the hearts and minds of liberty-lovers the world over.Barry Goldwater Campaign Poster

The self-styled ‘Mr Conservative’, Goldwater was a five term Senator from the South-western state of Arizona, who whilst perhaps most famously went down to a crushing Presidential election defeat to Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964, paved the way for the rise of the conservative movement and the election of Ronald Reagan sixteen years later in 1980.

A true conservative, Goldwater’s only desire was to preserve individual liberty and to defend the system of limited government that had been established by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution.

In a political career spanning over 30 years, Goldwater never cast a legislative vote on the basis of political expediency, for either himself or his Republican Party. Instead, when called to make a decision, there was always only one question at the forefront of his mind:

Is it Constitutional?

For Goldwater, a man of deep personal integrity, understood that his first duty as a law-maker was to support the Constitution of the United States. Unlike many of his colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, he took his oath of office seriously, understanding that adherence to the plain meaning of the founding document as regarded the individual and state was the only means by which the rule of law could be preserved and America saved from tyranny. Courageous men and woman would be required to be the vigilant watchmen, ensuring the long-term survival of the great Republic.

Never was his resolve tested so much as over the civil rights era of the 1960s, when he made the difficult decision to oppose to the Civil Rights Act 1964, which he viewed as an unconstitutional Federal intrusion into the rights of states and an encroachment upon the rights of private property owners. As a libertarian, he believed that such an expansion of federal authority could never amount to a real solution to racial tensions, a problem he had always recognised. Blacks could make progress within their own communities within their respective states, and enlightened individuals would lead the way to racial equality as he himself as done when desegregating his family’s department store business back in Arizona.

Was Goldwater wrong on Civil Rights? The question is outside the scope of this piece. Suffice it to say he certainly had powerful Constitutional arguments for taking the position he took. Whether the Act itself actually led to the improvement in race relations in the US in the subsequent decades is itself arguable. With the exception of those parts of the Civil Rights Act that specifically prohibited state-sponsored segregation, most libertarians would be suspicious of any claim that Government force, anywhere and at any time, has been responsible for healing divisions between people.

What Goldwater’s career does demonstrate, however, is that by allowing statutes or court decisions to pass without challenging the Constitutional authority behind them, the principles of limited government and individual liberty become more and more eroded at the drop of a hat for some expedient political end such as “No Child Left Behind”, the “War on Terror” or Obama-care. Not only do such actions have a devastating effect on the principles of constitutional government generally, they tend to make the problems they are designed to address worse. To take but the first and third example, the expansion of federal government authority under cover of supposedly benign objectives in education and health has hindered real progress in these areas at the state, local and individual levels, succeeding only in increasing the size of the Federal bureaucracy and by extension unworkable “one size fits all” solutions coming out of Washington DC.

But of what relevance is Barry Goldwater in 2012? And for the UK, a country without even a written constitution!

The US Constitution was based on a system of natural rights and common law justice that was the preserve of the English legal system centuries before the birth of the founding fathers. A system based on the presumption of individual freedom as opposed to state licensure. In the same way that Barry Goldwater saw the American system come under threat from unconstitutional federal laws and the decisions of activist courts, the UK today faces much the same problems from the EU and its long-standing mission of “ever closer integration”, a neat-sounding phrase for increased political, economic and regulatory centralisation – a mission far exceeding its noble original mandate of a common market and one which has been rigorously pursued at the expense of national self-determination and individual rights.

The principles of Barry Goldwater should not be confined to one state or place in time or location. Whether you are an American concerned about the future of the rule of law, a Briton worried about the expansionary aims of the EU, or a South Sudanese farmer celebrating the birth of their new country, ‘Old Goldie’ should hold something for lovers of freedom and opponents of tyranny the world over.

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Terry Ballard and Sean Hackbarth.

Freedom and Piracy

Some food for thought before the meeting on Thursday.

After the non-aggression axiom, the right to own property has always been high on the list of fixations of those of a libertarian instinct.

How property is defined, however, has been a matter of much debate, particularly with regard to “intellectual property”.

On the one hand, Ayn Rand wrote that “patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind.” whilst on the other Roderick Long  considers that “prohibiting people from using, reproducing, and trading copyrighted material is an infringement of freedom.”

So who is right?

Well, there are two strands to the debate and the first question to answer is whether intellectual property rights help or hinder progress. And I would argue they usually hinder.

Supposing, for example, someone discovers that cold fusion occurs when Dettol is mixed with HP sauce (original recipe).

Would the world be better served if he patented the formula and spent the next twenty years trying to develop it himself or would progress be quicker if he made the information available to all manufacturers to compete in developing the best DHPS generator?

And would it then help or hinder progress if the company who devised a working generator patented the design and prevented their competitors from building similar generators?

There is a real historical example of this happening and, when James Watt took out patents on the basic design of the steam engine, he found they didn’t help him much. 

“Ironically, not only did Watt use the patent system as a legal cudgel with which to smash competition, but his own efforts at developing a superior steam engine were hindered by the very same patent system he used to keep competitors at bay.

An important limitation of the original Newcomen engine was its inability to deliver a steady rotary motion. The most convenient solution, involving the combined use of the crank and a flywheel, relied on a method patented in 1780 by James Pickard, which prevented Watt from using it. Ironically, Watt also made various attempts at efficiently transforming reciprocating into rotary motion, reaching, apparently, the same solution as Pickard.

But the existence of a patent forced him to contrive an alternative less efficient mechanical device, the “sun and planet” gear. It was only in 1794, after the expiration of Pickard’s patent that Boulton and Watt adopted the economically and technically superior crank.”

As a result of the above, the 18th century technological revolution was significantly delayed.

But the second strand of the debate is to ask whether a lack of IP protection is equitable – to companies who have invested in research and to individuals, who have had their work copied.

Let’s take music as an example because, in music, there has been no effective protection of copyright since technology made recording possible and in the internet age it is ludicrous to try to pretend that IP rights can be enforced.

Yet, even without protection, good musicians can still earn an excellent living and it is the big corporations that have lost out. We have arguably never had a more interesting and vibrant music scene since the advent of file sharing etc – low barriers to entry for new artists and established bands producing live music rather than relying on revenue from recordings.

Do we really want to go back to the days when the record companies devised and manufactured the “next big thing”?

But what about the lack of incentive for companies to develop new products if the profits cannot be protected? Would the new wonder drug that cures cancer be discovered at all if the results of research could not be patented and the company concerned reap the rewards?

On the other hand, is it ever reasonable that the patent holder of a new drug allows millions to die whilst they price it for the treatment of the very few that can afford it?

Not easy questions and it may be that, in a world without IP protection, there would be less total money spent on medical research (though I also think that the drugs market is skewed because of state involvement in healthcare provision and the regulation of medicines).

Anyway, perhaps inspired by the relative anarchy of the internet and the perceived need to defend it, it seems that anti protectionist views are gaining currency and, in Germany, the Pirate Party recently won 9% of the vote and 15 seats in the Berlin state parliament. Absolutely astonishing for a party only founded in 2006.

Their platform is the preservation of rights in telephony and on the internet. In particular they oppose the European retention policies and Germany’s new internet censorship law. They also oppose artificial monopolies and various measures of surveillance of citizens.

I think we could all vote for those policies?

The author notes: the above post has been shamelessly copied from a previous post on the Anna Raccoon website however Anna cannot claim copywright infringement as I have changed a couple of words!

Your editor notes: I’ve also shamelessly ripped off Emoscopes’s gears graphic. I am sure he won’t mind.

That budget then

© altogetherfool

So, George Osborne has delivered this year’s budget – or, more accurately, confirmed the press leaks of the last few days. Quite frankly one wonders why he bothered standing up.

I think it is safe to skip rapidly over the growth forecasts provided by the OBR as the record of their gypsy fortune-tellers predictions is poor to say the least.

Equally, the less said about his wish for a balanced economy the better. Wishing for it is fine but I’d be happy if the government kept its paws out of the matter* as much as possible and left it up to the free market to sort out.

Borrowing

As he stated back in the Autumn, the government will continue to live beyond what it steals from the taxpayer past the end of this parliament (assuming it goes the distance). Indeed it doesn’t forecast a ‘balanced’ budget before 2017/18. In the mean time the National Debt is forecast to increase by £126bn (2012/13), £120bn, £98bn, £75bn, £52bn and £21bn (2016/17). That is a whopping £492bn – and all of which may, one day, have to be paid back.

I say one day because as we know the traditional way for government to deal with debt is to inflate it away and in 100 years time it is more than likely that that £492bn will be a lot closer to chump change than it is now. Gideon’s wheeze for delaying the inevitable for as long as possible is 100-year or perhaps even perpetual (i.e. non-repayable) gilts.**

Public Sector

Sadly there was no announcement of an immediate end of national pay bargaining. The Chancellor did though appear to thank the opposition for suggesting the end of national benefit rates – perhaps the only useful idea to emerge from Labour in a while. It would also make sense to make the NMW regionalised (assuming it is politically impossible at present to scrap it entirely).

Taxes

Let’s face it, the only thing anyone really cares about is how much the government is planning on stealing from them in direct taxation each year. The stupidity of it is how pathetically grateful we all get when we learn that it might not be as much as last year… without realising that they generally claw it back through indirect taxation instead.

The apparent good news for anyone earning less than £100k is that the government has decided it won’t start its thieving in the forthcoming tax year until you’ve earnt £8,105 – and next year is pushing that level up £9,205.

Obviously this is a good thing for anyone earning minimum wage sort of levels. Personally I think it would be better if no-one doing a 40hr week at NMW (which currently works out to £12,646.40) paid any tax but things seem to be moving in the right direction. The test will be what happens once the £10k level, as agreed at the start of the collation, is reached.

The likely option is that government of the day will starting treating it just like they do the the other tax thresholds and allow it to increase slower than wages, thus once again catching more people in the net.

What the Chancellor didn’t mention whilst he was crowing about the changes to the 0% band was that the £630 increase there is mirrored by pulling the 40% threshold down by £630, shrinking the 20% band by £1,260. This ensures that – for those under 65 – that the the 40% band still starts at anything over £42,475. This is the same tactic that the one-eyed Scottish idiot employed on a few occasions.

Together with the lack of change of the levels at which the tax free allowance is withdrawn and the highest rate of Income Tax is levied, the government is once again ensuring that, as wages rise, more people are dragged into the higher tax brackets.

Unlikely those of us who are earning to try to keep ourselves in drinking money, those who have reached pensionable age will find their 0% band frozen from 2013. If I am to guess, this is in order to equalise them with the rates for the under 65s in preparation for the merger of Income Tax and National Insurance – something which will also hit pensioners as they do not currently pay NI.

The positive sides of merging IT and NI should be

a) simplification of the tax code, and

b) give the population a better idea of what the basic rate of tax (excluding Employer’s NI) is.

With any luck, being told that the basic rate is actually over 30% (rather than the 20% they believe) may result in the sheeple demanding that it comes down…

For those on very high incomes, the semi-good news is that the highest rate of income tax is coming down. Not yet scrapped altogether (hopefully in a future budget) but being halved. Given the flagrant avoidance that took place before the 50% rate come into effect – and which will be duplicated now as people who can hold off until 2013 – this can only be a good thing. Will 45p in the pound (and the potential direction of travel) tempt those who haven’t yet upped sticks to stay though?

Excellent news for companies employees, shareholders and customers is that corporate tax is coming down even further with the aim of getting it to 22% from 2014. Not quite Ireland but better than France and Germany which may encourage those financial institutions who were thinking of leaving before a Tobin tax in introduced in those places. The increase in the bank levy may however put them off.

The so-called sin taxes generally slipped by without change to already announced increases except for the price a tobacco***. I imagine that the only people who were cheering this rise of inflation plus 5% (plus consultation on making tobacco-free cigarettes liable to excise duty) were the smugglers. As a non-smoker I would be open to the idea of bringing back duty-free smokes for people when re-entering the country…

Regulation

As trailed, Sunday trading laws are to be relaxed during the Olympics. Hopefully they will then be scrapped altogether as an anachronism.

Planning – perhaps the major reason for the cost of housing being so high – is being simplified. Supposedly the guidance is being cut to just 5% of its previous size although there is no word of whether part of this has been achieved by the use of single instead of double line spacing and a reduced font size.

We are also getting more ‘enterprise zones’. Why not just make the entire country one?

And Michael ‘Tarzan’ Heseltine is back. Has anyone checked him for knives?

Infrastructure

It would seem that the Government has finally realised that we do need more (or bigger) airports. Will Heathrow be getting that third runway after all? We might find out come the summer.

Annoyingly (but not surprisingly) the Government will continue to waste money on ‘green’ energy but in better news looks to be reversing the hit it gave the North Sea oil and gas industry last year.

Conclusion

One thing that this is not is a Libertarian budget. Government spending is still going up and Peter, let alone Paul, is being robbed to pay Peter.

To the laywoman (i.e. me) it appears to be yet another budget that just tinkers with things whilst fleecing the public for more money – a speciality which Gordon Brown perfected. There is however some future potential in it if some things (the IT and NI merger, national pay bargaining) do happen. To mis-quote that school report line no-one ever wanted to see: “could do a damn sight better”.


* Yeah, I know. Government leaving alone is wishful thinking, huh? Let’s just be thankful he isn’t attempting to plan the economy.

** It is ideas like this which make me glad that I’m never going to have children.

*** Ok, gambling as well as tax will be imposed at point of consumption in an effort to stop online gambling moving offshore.


Cross posted from Misanthrope Girl

Honesty is a virtue that George Monbiot does not possess

Reason, purpose, self-esteem, independence, productivity, justice, integrity and honesty are the key virtues of the objectivist system. They are the primary secondary and tertiary corolaries of Rand’s metaphysical observation that what is real is objectively real, regardless of your opinion. That existence exists, and we aren’t making it up. In contrast, George Monbiot’s mendacious and emotional attack on this system has little relation it’s actual construction. Apart from some name calling, Monbiot begins by claiming:

Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive.

Apart from the pages of samey critiques produced by countless critics, nothing in Objectivism calls empathy and compassion evil. Empathy and compassion are tools for determing the state of mind of another person and determining a course of action for yourself. Objectivsm has little to say about this except for it’s built-in mandate to always properly weigh all the relevant facts, and to treat others justly – that is – to treat them as they deserve to be treated. It is as if Monbiot read the first few lines of a high level summary and instead of actually reading the end of it, projected his own preconceptions onto it’s topic. In doing so, Monbiot perpetuates the constant confusion of enlightened self-interest and endarkened behaviour that is short termist, cowardly and self destructive. Rand called this a “package deal” and invited us to unpack the common and entirely healthy requirement for individuals to tend to their own physical and spiritual health and the common, unwelcome and counterproductive error of doing so by lying, cheating and doing injustice to others.

An injustice is exactly what he commits when he lays the blame for the mistakes of a central banker – an office of state – on a philosophy that advocates the complete separation of state and economy. While Rand goes to some lengths to defend business people, and cleverly shows how they enable their own victimisation, she never advocated that Government should grant them favours. Nor as, Tim Warstall points out, did Alan Greenspan even have the authority to authorise the tax and regulatory measures that Monbiot lambasts. He goes on to mention an Adam Curtis documentary that, in fact, described exactly the fateful government interventions Greenspan did instigate. These macroeconomic interventions obviously would not have met with Rand’s approval, yet Monbiot snearingly calls Alan Greenspan’s public rejection of Rand the “official version”. What is most alarming is that both Monbiot and Curtis failed to see the blatant contradiction of criticising the actions of a government offical, and the destructive consequences for the economy, as being somehow inspired by an “evil” advocate who wanted to leave the economy alone.

© Dan Eckert

The screed continues with an analysis of Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged, a book that revolves around the transcontinental railway system of a dystopian America:

The poor die like flies as a result of government programmes and their own sloth and fecklessness. Those who try to help them are gassed. In a notorious passage, she argues that all the passengers in a train filled with poisoned fumes deserved their fate. One, for instance, was a teacher who taught children to be team players; one was a mother married to a civil servant, who cared for her children; one was a housewife “who believed that she had the right to elect politicians, of whom she knew nothing”.

Rand hardly argues that they deserved to be gassed. To be clear, as Monbiot fails to be clear, this was an accident caused by the perverted incentives of the, by now, entirely communist economy. An economy and a culture near to end of self-destruction at the hands of incorrect philiosophical ideas, such as those Monbiot advocates in real life today. Monbiot does not address whether or not terrible accidents would be caused by a communist culture, prefering to mischaracterise the text and Rand’s intent. In fact Rand is attempting to show, not they “deserved” their fate, but they are all “responsible” for it:

It is said that catastrophes are a matter of pure chance, and there are those who would have said that the passengers aboard the [train] were not guilty or responsible for the thing that happened to them.

It is in this context that Rand portrayed a woman who took perfect care of her children’s physical needs while approving implicitly of the job her “civil servant” (Monbiot) husband had “enforcing directives… saying “I don’t care it’s only the rich that they hurt” (Rand). She is saying that actually the directives enforced by the woman’s husband were responsible for creating the set of circumstances that killed his children and that perhaps his wife should have been more interested in what he was doing.

As to the housewife, the full quote, which I assume Monbiot cuts for brevity is “who believed that she had the right to elect politicians, of whom she knew nothing, to control giant industries, of which she had no knowledge”. Did I mention, that this ill fated train had been ordered into a gas filled tunnel by a politician who refused to listen to the safety concerns of the conductor? Had the housewife voted differently, we are invited to ask, would she still be alive? Maybe.

Another detail left out, which Guardian readers would be interested to know, is that the teacher he mentions had in fact taught her pupils “that they must not assert their own personalities, but must do as others were doing”. Does this really sound like the kind of teacher that Guardian readers would root for in a novel? Oh and did I mention that it was one of these automatons of social cohesion, driven to apathy by the changing times, that permited the train into the tunnel rather than being a rebel and saving thousands of lives? That character knew he would hate his job from that moment, but obeyed orders like all the others had done.

All of the passengers were shown as contributing in their own way to the fate they met. The point, if it needs to be clarified further, is that philosophy is important even if it is not consciously held or especially treasured by the people who act upon it’s content. Good ideas, Rand is arguing, make for a better world.

But Monbiot’s superficial understanding of Atlas Shrugged is as comical as it is dishonest. The book barely mentions the rescue of the economy and in fact it ends with the final destruction of the industrial economy and the rescue, in fact, of the son of a mechanic and spartan intellectual John Galt. Monbiot chooses to describe this rescued hero as a plutocrat. Plutocracy is the rule of wealth. In fact Galt had finally got himself into serious peril by refusing the role of economic dictator, an episide that could not possibly have been missed, even by readers who skipped his long speech. Perhaps Monbiot is relying upon a summary afterall.

The Challenges of the Abortion Debate

© Toshimasa Ishibashi

I am of the view that perhaps the greatest challenge a libertarian will face in defining their politics is when faced with the argument on abortion. A debate that has raged on for literally decades, it is perhaps one of the more troubling subjects with which some libertarians will struggle to get to grips. For the longest time I would have considered myself to be “pro-choice” on this argument, but it is up until recently, seeing rather distasteful stories regarding late term abortions of disabled children, or even a recent controversy about doctors allowing the illegal abortion of babies because of their gender, that I have found myself struggling to maintain that position. It is that which has compelled me to have a go at this piece, to try and explain the difficulty I have faced in reconciling my position on the subject while at the same time admitting that at this moment, I frankly don’t know where I stand. Abortion has not really been that much of a concern for me, what with not having a cervix and all, so I’ve generally just kept away from the debate altogether, but as I’ve grown more politically aware, it’s an argument you can hardly avoid. Abortion is almost universally accepted, something we should just appreciate women should be permitted to do and that’s that, no further discussion, end of story. But although this may be the broad position of many of the British public, I don’t see things as that black and white.

As time has gone on, my views on it have changed, when I see stories involving babies being born prematurely at 22 weeks and surviving, when the abortion limit is 24 weeks at which a mother is still allowed to abort the foetus, I cannot help but be outraged. It isn’t helped at times when the majority who seem to oppose abortion are of the far-right religious variety providing the left-leaning pro-choicers with simple ammunition by which they may avoid the seriousness of the debate and go straight to ridiculing their opponent. The fact is, however, that more babies are being born extremely early and the survival rate is increasing for such premature births. I’m not a religious person, my view isn’t based on some form of religious fanaticism, my view is based on the right to life and the right for life to be protected, no matter how young that life may be. I’m sure that, if the baby who was born at 22 weeks was killed by the mother a few days after her birth, there would be uproar, and perhaps even a murder conviction. But what’s the difference whether or not the baby is in the womb?

The inevitable question any person who opposes abortion faces is “what if the woman was raped?” Well unlike those who may staunchly oppose abortion on the notion that “life begins at conception” I do not hold this view. I still believe abortion may be deemed acceptable in very limited circumstances, including if the birth of the child would put the mother’s and child’s life in danger, if the child has an extremely severe disability and it is determined without question that the child will not live any longer than a few days and those days will be ones of suffering, or if the mother is raped, then abortion may be acceptable, but the term limits must be reduced. If it’s possible for a baby to be born at 21 weeks and survive, then this must be seen as a baby like any other, and they must be cared for and treated and their survival seen as a top priority as would the birth of a baby born at 9 months.

Medical advances have come a long way since the enactment of the laws in the UK so it is perfectly reasonable to call for a reduction in the term limits during which abortion may be accepted. I am not a medical expert, so I cannot judge on the best reduction on limit, but considering there are children that have been born at 21 weeks and may have possibly survived if they weren’t refused treatment, the limit should be less than 20 weeks. One thing I will personally, and inevitably, face in this debate is when women will say to me “it’s my body, it’s my choice” and expect the argument to be instantly dropped. While I have presented reasonable alternatives to the current abortion laws, I will briefly answer this inevitable argument that will be put to me.

You are right. It is your body. You made a personal choice to have sex, you got pregnant in the process and you have a baby growing inside you. A life that poses almost limitless potential, yet you want to take its life on the basis that it’s “your body.” While it is your body and while that child was born from you, would it give you the right to instantly rescind your responsibility to your child if say, it reached the age of two years, you became fed up of being a parent and decided to kill your child but you saw it as acceptable because said child was your creation? Such an argument would be considered extreme, but I think it is necessary to make the point that just because you decide you no longer want the child, or do not like its gender, does not give you the right to take away that life. In the cases of rape, it would be reasonable to assume that most rapes are reported almost immediately following the offence, or within a few weeks of the crime being committed, which would fall within a reduced term limit allowing legal abortion.

I am very clear on my position of a person to make their own choices that affects their own lives and for the state to have no involvement in those choices so long as they do not affect the liberty of others. I hope that, through my brief explanation of the difficulties surrounding the abortion debate, people will come to understand why I find this debate in particular, so difficult. Ultimately, this depends on your definition of what you perceive to be a “life” in the literal or moral sense. This is perhaps why a lot of religious people take the “life begins at conception” position, but my stance is based more on the science. If it is possible for the child to survive outside the mother’s womb with medical assistance, then this may be deemed in the literal scientific sense a life, and your liberty to decide whether that life can be destroyed or not is no longer valid, just as you have no right to take away my life because you may disagree with my views, you have no right to take away the life of a baby to which you gave birth, and has survived, purely because you see such a child as an inconvenience.

In the case of a late discovery of pregnancy past the abortion term limits, abortion is not the only option as adoption would be preferable for perhaps both the mother and the child. If the mother considers that she does not have the means with which to raise the child, rather than take away the child’s right to an existence, perhaps she should provide that child with an opportunity of a life with another family that may be able to give them the chance in life which you consider you may not be able to provide. There are circumstances in which I deem abortion to be reasonable and acceptable, but as you will have gathered from reading this blog, it’s an argument with which I continue to struggle. There is no definitive answer to this debate, and while some will rage on until the end of their existence, it will never be settled, but it is important to recognise that on whichever side of the fence you sit, there is no right or wrong answer.

Cross posted from: The World Through My Specs

Winter Activism Gallery

Each time it snows we see the same things – a blanket of snow on every road and “the Council” doing nothing about the roads that matter to us. Instead of looking to the council, what if we cleared the roads and pavements that matter to us? If they matter, surely it’s worth it? And if they matter enough for the community to pay taxes to the council, then surely it matters enough for some members of the community to come and help you.

The same snow never needs to be cleared twice, so each time someone clears some, everyone gets the benefit of that clear road. It’s a “positive externality”, a benefit to people outside of just your household. The libertarian analysis is that people will fix the problems that matter to them and so the problems that really effect everyone will be fixed, by them.

Also, we believe that this will naturally work better than “the council” (or state solutions in any field) because of fundamental issues. Only we know what we want, and it varies immensely between people and day by day, and this is especially true of the weather. The knowledge of what we want starts in the heads of thousands and is supposed to make more sense in the heads of a different group of just a few hundred people, despite all the Chinese whispers and bureaucratic obstacles in the middle. That cannot be true. Instead, we believe individuals and specialised local groups will always do a better job.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=109615

These photos put the theory into practice, and show that we can and will get up and sort things out ourselves, even though many people are put off helping by two factors:

  • The council is in the way – it claims a large proportion of our income to do this job and does it badly, It will always do it badly for fundamental reasons, and we need to work longer and harder to make up for the tax taken. It should stop trying to do this, give us our money back, and let us do it. Society will evolve new methods of doing thing’s at the same scale.
  • Unpredictable laws – every year we hear the same urban myths about how people could get sued if they don’t do a perfect job of clearing the road or pavement. This puts people off. We need a simple law that says if your do something to reduce the risk, then good on you, and you can’t get sued for leaving some level of risk behind. So if the risk before was 80% and now its 51%, you are in the clear even if it is still more likely than not that someone will fall over.