Fiddling In Progress

I decided it was time to fiddle with the look of the old place, so a new header is done (I may do another, and I’m not sure where in the labyrinthine file-system of which of my computers the old one is stored-damn) and a new theme is chosen although I’m not sure I like it.
I plan (plan being the operative word) to fiddle a bit with the sidebar… there’s lots of broken links in the blogroll, lots of blogs and sites I read aren’t there… argh. It’s going to be a mission, isn’t it, that’s why I haven’t done it yet.
Still, it’s easier than actually writing anything…

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Tracy Crouch- Good Egg?

Since the election I haven’t really noticed Tracy Crouch, my MP, but today she posted something really heatening on her blog:

On Thursday, I intervened on the Home Secretary during her statement in the Commons about the use of social networking during the riots and disturbances in London and elsewhere. I wanted to make the point, in the confines of a short interjection, that there is a difference between open networks (Twitter, Facebook etc) and closed networks (Blackberry Messenger) and that future consideration of their advantages and disadvantages to public order should be distinguished as such. However, and I can not be clearer than this – not for one second do I think they should be closed down. Monitored, yes; accessible to the police in certain circumstances, yes; shut down, no and especially if we want our voice heard when we condemn the practices of other regimes that restrict access to social networks or a free press.

Now, while I do NOT agree with the ‘monitored’ part of that: as a free net junkie, free speech advocate and libertarian I can in no way condone RIPA and the anti-encryption powers it represents -yes, even when scrotes are using it to organise looting- this whole post is a breath of fresh air considering some of the statements that have been coming from politicians this week. The calls to allow shutdowns of Twitter and BBM have been coming thick and fast, but my MP, my Conservative MP -member of the party who’s government was brought to crisis by last weekend’s events- not only disagrees but publishes her disagreement for all to see.

Many police forces, my local Kent police being one, used technology to great effect earlier on in the week. Clearly open networks allowed for arrests to be made for inciting public disorder, as well as providing the police with a means of monitoring potential targets. But they also enable the police to get clear messages out to the public. With rumours flying around the social networks about looting and rioting, police forces and other authoritative sources, were able to dispel the myths using the same networks that were propagating them. If networks were closed, as some suggest, then the rumours would still be flying around via other means of communication (dare I mention via good old fashioned oral communication) but without the instant truth also being known, and in a bitesize 140 characters.

Again, I cannot agree with any crime that includes ‘incitement’ in the title -to do so is to forgo belief in moral, independent human beings with the capability to make choices- but the fact that so many people used the same social networks to dispel the rumours of what was going on in Kent over those few days (the square root of fuck all, as it happened) while not justifying their not being turned off (this being self-evident) do go in some way to show the use they have in times of crisis, and may have gone some way to preventing the same scenes happening in Medway that we saw elsewhere around the country. After all, nobody wants to be the first one to a riot, it is not fashionable!

Tracy Crouch, MP, seems -on this issue- to get it. There are wider issues at stake than rioters using Twitter and BBM to organise- issues of freedom that TPTB seem intent on using this tragedy to cuteil. Tracy Crouch has thrown her hat into the ring, and she’s thrown it into the right corner.

Bravo.

Necro-Answer (Dinosaur Zombie Edition)

Ok, so sometimes I leave my RSS feeds unread- possibly unjustifiably in the case of Mr. Civil Libertarian, who I mentally classify as “posting videos” and therefore requiring some PC-time at a nebulous later date. Therefore, this rejoinder to his post This Post Contains Dinosaurs about the statist nature of large companies is largely out of date. Sorry about that.

Tesco, Wal-Mart, Kingfisher, Morrisons. Yes, they are all statist organisations, both in philosophy and in practice- in that they operate a highly authoritarian structure within themselves and also in that they support and benefit from the statist regulatory model. However, to attack these private organisations on the way that they conduct their private contracts (one-sided or otherwise) between themselves and the individuals who sell their labour to them is wrong-headed in my opinion.

By all means, to attack the companies on the relationships between themselves and national and supra-national govenrments- on W.E.E.E., the H.S.E., food hygiene licensing, mandatory battery recycling, the Minimum Wage and a host of other barriers to entry imposed in their favour by the Governments to which they cosy up. These arrangements are nothing more than Corporatism/Facism and deserve to be denounced as such. However, the internal structures of private companies are just that. Private- and of no concern to anybody but the signees of the employment contracts concerned. Employees of Tesco are not slaves- they have at any time the option to walk out of their job and attempt to gain employment elsewhere, or set up their own businesses, or join the “black economy” or even to go on Welfare. Nobody forces them at gunpoint to go to work in the morning- they are honouring a contract freely entered into by two Persons, the whole basis of Western Civilisation!

Despite all this enthusiasm for the authority of bosses and glorification of corporate power, I would argue that if the Right-Libertarians I refer to here were to actually advocate the the principles they claim they do, rather than continue to act in a knee-jerk, reactionary way to any policy or idea labelled “socialist” or “collectivist”, then they would quickly realize that freedom requires not just the removal of the State, but the active fight against those institutions that act like States too. To be a Libertarian, you must be against authority too; but there are those amongst us that fail to see those sources of authority that don’t stem directly from what we conventionally know as “The State”.

This being the section I most take issue with. Firstly, the removal of the State would in a large way go to stem the way these companies act- with fair competition both for customers and employees large companies would in no way be able to get away with the things they do. Secondly- to be a Libertarian is in no way to be against authority. Neither is to be an Anarchist. I am such, and yet I go to work every day, and for eight hours I do what my boss wants (he has authority over me in this respect) and in return I receive a princely sum for each of those eight hours. These were the terms I agreed to when I signed my contract, and I am free to terminate said contract at any time. I sell my submission to his authority for cash- I see no contradiction here. I also see no need to fight against such institutions. The root problem is the state- the state has created a situation and the market throws up the best setup for that situation. Change the situation, and change the market, it will evolve. That is what it does.

Maintainance

The longer you put it off, the worse it gets. Here’s the blogs I’ve been reading for ages but not blogrolled:

The will-she/won’t-she drama of constituency office worker Mid Wife Crisis;

Davy of The UK Libertarian who keeps me in interesting videos to watch on my phone while I’m doing the washing up;

The insightful wish-I’d-started-reading-him-earlier musings of Vladimir;

And for light relief and occasional politicalness professional wrestler Rob Van Dam.

Phew, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

Tracey Crouch MP Has Moderation Enabled

So in order that my comment to this post regarding the NHS not be lost, I reproduce it here:

Sorry to necro-post, since you are now my mp I’ve been reading your older posts(I’d never heard of you before I saw you on BBC South East on election morning!).
Can anyone seriously believe that this service would be acceptable within a private hospital? The only solution is to abolish the NHS entirely. If Patients had the ability to take their business elsewhere then hospitals that offered a shoddy service like the one you outlined would soon be out of business. Unfortunately we are all forced to pay for the ‘service’ the NHS provides whether we use it or not, and so we cannot afford to go elsewhere. As long as this situation prevails outcomes will not improve as there is no incentive for the NHS to perform better.
As an MP for a party that is often accused of wanting to destroy the NHS (as if that would be a bad thing!) I would appreciate your comment on this.