Bad

It hardly seems like three months ago that I met Andrew Janes at what was going to be the first meeting of the LPUK in Medway, and now here we are looking at the complete demise of the party. A shame.

Whether it was a good idea poorly implemented or a poor idea fairly well implemeted, it doesnt seem to matter now. It did serve function though, a rallying point for libertarians of different stripes to try and get our voices heard and as such its death is a Bad Thing. The fact that this wasn’t really achieved is not a reason to give up, or, like many are saying to swear off politics altogether.

What I think I’m trying to say is that we need a movement in a much broader sense of the term, and although the LPUK gave us a focal point it was by no means the only such thing that can exist. While many may say things about ‘herding cats’ (and any visit to a Samizdata thread with more than 15 posts proves that point) there are more things we agree on than not- the state is too large, people need competition, we need to live within our means as a country- that sort of thing.

Getting a movement going, with things like the recent Rally Against Debt, things that make a big noise, get people galvanised into action (it’ll snowball) and above all get people to have HEARD of these ideas should be the priority. Nothing so formal as a political party and membership list is required.

Politial parties come later – bums on seats first.

How about… NO?

After long (really) deliberation, I voted NO on the referendum. I was actually in two minds right up until I arrived in the booth. On the one hand, I thought that I really ought to say yes, that if there was a resounding NO from the British public, that there would be possibly another hundred years before any form of electoral reform was suggested again (and seriously, the current system is irretrievably broken) -possibly never- and, er, well that’s about it.
On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of AV. I especially don’t like the way that it will be used to demonstrate that all MPs have some sort of mandate of over 50% of the electorate, when they may simply be bottom of most people’s lists. Also, those shameless ditherers the Liberal Democrats like it (presumably thinking it will work out good for them) which tempts me to think that if it’s good for them, it certainly won’t be good for me.
Eventually, I decided that the wrong reform would be worse than no reform, so now we just have to wait and see how it turns out.

On the council election, I exercised only 2/3 of my electoral right. I was allowed to vote for three candidates out of a field of around 12- all but two were either Lib Dem, Conservative or Labour. I was damned if I would vote for any of those buggers so that left me with the English Democrat and UKIP candidates, neither party I’m terribly enamoured with but I figured a vote against the other three parties was better than a spoiled ballot.

So there you have it.

Old Doc, New Ticks

It’s finally happened. I’ve fallen ill. I always knew it would all start falling apart one day, but nobody warned me it would begin at the still-tender age of thirty, although to be fair I did really abuse my body during my late teens and early twenties (no, really!) so I suppose it’s fair play. What isn’t fair play is that I’ve been paying into the states ‘insurance’ fund for just as long. The fact I’ve been forced to pay at gunpoint doesn’t enter into it, I want the service that I’ve paid for.

Perhaps a little back-story. Unused as I am to visiting the doctor, I do at least go regularly enough to know that my last GP was a gem. An Indian lady of the old-school variety, she’d been my GP since birth and was my mother (and grandparent’s) GP before that. She didn’t ‘do’ computers and maintained a Big Brown Envelope filing system, the PC on her desk displaying the floating XP screensaver beloved of un-logged-in expensive paperweights everywhere. Something she also didn’t ‘do’ was ask you the state-mandated smoking/drinking survey.

She retired earlier this year.

The ‘new’ doctor is an elderly Indian gentleman, but nontheless while I sat spaced-out-proper in his surgery, he insisted on going through the rigmarole…
“How many do you smoke, how much do you drink, sorry it’s the government making me do this (all the while making ticks and notes on some sort of form), can you step on the scales please (despite the fact that I could barely stand- although, come to think of it he had no way of knowing this as he hadn’t actually fucking asked me what the FUCK was wrong with me yet), now I’ll just measure your height (in my cowboy boots that add a good 2″ to my height) sorry it’s the government, can I do your blood pressure ooh it’s a bit high that’s because your arteries are hardening from smoking but I can’t get you to stop but it’s your early grave (thank fuck for that, to think I might have otherwise have had to put up with this shit for another 10 years with increasing regularity) sorry the government make me say all this, now what can I do for you?”

Then a cursory 30 second (interrupted) description of my symptoms followed by a diagnosis of “hypoglyclemia but I can’t do a blood test because the nurse is off sick, -(to intercom) can you send some sick certificates up please, come back in a week if it doesn’t improve and we’ll send you for tests.”

Then he wrote “viral infection” on a sicknote and I was out the door. Approximately 15 minutes spent on the sorry-the-government-make-me-do-this bit, and approximately 90 seconds spent on the reason I’d gone there in the first place.

I was, of course, already of the opinion that the NHS should be abolished entirely but I am now also of the opinion that I’m lucky I happened to experience this for the first time under a befuddled haze, or the new doc may have got a punch on the nose for his trouble.

Oh, Dick. Oh!

One half of Dick Cleggerton was on BBC Breakfast this morning attempting to hype up their Great Repeal Bill and it’s associated website. All was going swimmingly until Bill Turnbull asked him:
“So if everybody said for example, ‘get out of Europe,’ the Government would have to do it, right?”
Dick’s answer? “No.”

So what exactly is the point? Apart from the fact that some of the public clearly don’t understand the concept of reducing regulation, so brainwashed are they by the steady drip-drip of increasing State interference (one respondent wanted to get rid of football!) the government have just flat-out admitted on national television they will ignore any suggestions they don’t approve of, so you can forget suggesting they repeal the firearms acts, the European Communities Act or the smoking ban. The concessions you might get included something about grey squirrels and assorted other unimportant things. Oh, and he managed to squeeze in that the Bill was important to “send a message” too.

Now where have we heard those words before?

Where The Hell Shall I Put My ‘X’

Two days, a drunk-related face-mashup (more on that in the next post) and a hard reset to my phone later, and I’m rehashing from memory a post that was stored in the phone’s drafts folder, originally titled ‘Mother’s In A Quandry,’ in lieu of the much longer post that should have been finished days ago regarding Sean Gabb’s conversation (I’ve well missed the boat, everybody else has commented by now, I’m sure).

Mother isn’t really in a quandry. She is, I think, going to vote Labour. Not because she approves of their agenda, not because she thinks they’ve been doing a good job, and certainly not because of the TV debate (she was quite impressed by Cleggy, not the inceasingly wan-looking Gordo, and she’d never vote for Cameron- she ‘doesn’t like his face.’ I approve).

She plans to vote Labour because she likes our (Labour) MP and thinks he’s done a good job in the constituency. Which is ostensibly what our electoral system is all about. Note I didn’t mention his voting record, or his party’s leadership… but what the man himself has done in his constituency.

It’s me that’s in a quandry, really. On the one hand I tend to the idea that this is how the system is supposed to work, and by damn I should bloody well act like that is how it works, even though it isn’t, just out of sheer bloody-mindedness (wonder where I get that from, mum?) but on the other hand, I know damn well that isn’t how it works, and while Jonathan Shaw might be a good constituency MP he is still bound in Westminster by the Whips to vote for whatever crazy schemes his bosses dream up.

So what are we to do? The recent TV debates have put the ‘official’ sheen on what everybody has known for ages -that we vote for the party and it’s leader, in effect if not in priciple- but the system of electing a local representative and sending him off to Westminster to act for the Constituency’s interests is still in place. I actually quite like the idea, to be honest. If it worked properly, that is.

So where do I put my ‘X’? I can’t in good conscience vote for Mr. Shaw, no matter how hard he’s worked in the local area because a vote for him would be a vote for five more years of that lunatic he works for. There’s no Libertarian candidate so I’m either reduced to spoiling my ballot or going by method of elimination. According to Wikipedia there are seven PPC’s in my constituency. Four (Lib/Lab/Con and Green) I can eliminate straight away. I’m not voting English Democrat (I’m against an English Parliament- I want LESS government, not more) which leaves me with two candidates to choose from:

Colin McCarthy-Stewart (BNP); and
Steve Newton (UKIP)

Oh dear.

Indeed

Via The Salted Slug comes more evidence of the Shruggery of Atlas. The gentleman concerned (and where there is one we can safely assume there are more) has had enough with all the difficulties and obstacles government’s put in his way and will not be running his own business again, and is presumably off to work for somebody else.
I don’t think he’ll be much happier there though, unless he’s really lucky. On his blog, Dilbert creator Scott Adams put forward the theory that bad management in large companies are a driver for entrepreneurs, as the capable employees in the company, fed up of reporting to (and being overruled by) morons throw their hands up in the air and go off and start their own businesses, which they can run properly and without endless efficiency-destroying ‘initiatives’ and so on. As we are so often reminded, half the villains in Atlas Shrugged were businessmen.

With these two powerful demotivations acting in opposite directions, there are very few options available to those capable of wealth creation in society. One is, as Salty says, Galt’s Gulch, if it existed and if they’d let you in. Staying as or becoming an employee is hard work too, as I can tell you from personal experience. Unless you’re lucky, you’ll end up surrounded by bovine looters, and having a (commendable) attitude of wanting to do your work in a timely and efficient manner ultimately leads to more heartache. In the end, you end up shrugging there too, and becoming as that which you despise.

It really is starting to feel like we’re living out the final chapters of Ayn Rand’s nightmare vision (witness the government’s ham-fisted salt redistribution), and it ain’t gonna be pretty as it plays out.

Who is John Galt?

You See, This Is How It Works

You may or may not know this, but the going rate for a bottle of Lambrini is £2.99. It’s cheap, it’s sweet and it’s booze, occupying that slim middle ground between low-income like-a-drink drinks and full-time-dipso drinks like Super Kestrel. A few (probably more than a few nationwide) shops hoping to increase their margin have been charging a bit more for Lambrini (the highest I’ve seen it is £3.29) .
The Lambrini folks must have seen a drop in sales in these retailers, because they have now taken to printing “R.R.P. £2.99″ on each bottle, thus ensuring it’s sale at that price, and it’s continued spot in it’s little niche.

That’s how libertarianism works, see? In the here-and-now we have an example, although not for long if the Labour Party’s minimum-pricers get their way. Retailers buy their goods wholesale, and they are free to charge whatever they like retail for their own property. The makers of Lambrini are free to write whatever on their labels, and they have chosen to write “£2.99.”

Now, under current trading standards legislation, unless the retailer wants to re-label every bottle they will have to sell at that price. But what if that legislation (and it’s supporting army of government inspectors simply did not exist? What would happen?
Well, the retailer is still at liberty to charge whatever he likes, and now he doesn’t even need to change the labels. He’s not going to, is he? The hours of label-changing will cost more than he’d make (not to mention his bottles will look dodgy and the shop down the road selling at £2.99’s won’t) and if he left them the customers will give him more hassle than it’s worth when they get to the till, and probably never return.

No need for a £5000 fine!
No need for an inspector!
The incentive is already there!
Simple.

Ridiculous

I’m waiting in an NHS hospital, while Mrs. Wh00ps has an outpatients appointment, followed by a blood test.
After arriving with 10 minutes to spare we had to wait another hour, as NHS appointments obviously don’t tally with any sense of good business practice or even reality, like the bistromathics described by Douglas Adams.
Once we’d eventually seen the unusually english and helpful consultant, he suggested we might like to have a blood test, just in case. Our local hospital (Medway Maritime) has recently spent plenty of (our) money extensively re-building the front of the buildings including the blood testing area. Gone is the huge waiting room and four or five cubicles, replaced with an extensive network of waiting rooms and testing rooms and an army of receptionists and tour-guide like people to show you which waiting room to wait in, where expensive-looking flatscreen monitors inform you of how long you will have to wait, and call out your number. Oh yes, I forgot. Despite all this new and expensive technology the basic system is still take-a-ticket-and-wait, the same system as the Tesco delicatessen 25 years ago.

This is still not the best bit though! Even with all these expensive waiting rooms, expensive computer screens and expensive auxiliary staff… THEY ONLY HAVE TWO TESTING ROOMS OPERATING!

Mrs. Wh00ps worked two hours in lieu last week so she could take her appointment off. The appointment was at 09:30 so she thought she could be in for 11. It’s now 11:15 and we’re still waiting, and we’ll get charged a fortune at the car park for the privilege plus she’ll now have to work hours to make it up, despite doing the right thing and going in to work on her day off to do it in advance.

Why do we accept this sort of service from the NHS? If we arrived at a hairdresser 10 minutes before our appointment and were still waiting an hour later, we’d walk out and never use them again. We don’t have a choice with hospitals though. You can’t give up an arrange an appointment at the next hospital down the road. You can’t exercise your most fundamental right to take your business elsewhere.
Well, we personally can’t. We can’t afford to go private (we’re “working poor” ie we earn enough but the government takes a huge slice and we don’t earn little enough to qualify for any of it back, as if that would make it ok even if we did!) and “choice” between NHS hospitals is another of the pseudo-choices of Coke vs Pepsi so beloved of the establishment. Even if we could we’d still be forced to pay for this ridiculousness.

Dare mention any of this in public though, and you might as well have suggested buggering Nelson Mandela with Mother Theresa’s shrunken head. The cognitive dissonance is simply astounding. Everyone complains about the state of the NHS, but any alternative is simply unthinkable! Not enough money they say, but they don’t see the millions wasted on staff who show you which waiting room to wait in and huge new wings to keep them all waiting in, instead of on nurses to do the testing so not so many people have to wait at once.

We have the health service the lowest common denominator deserve, and the rest of us can’t do a damn thing about it.