Monday, May 14, 2007

On Bureaucracy, Liberty and the Rule of Law

The Fjordman Report

The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.



"With law shall the land be built, nor with lawlessness destroyed."

— from Håvamål, an ancient Norse poem with guidelines for the proper way of living. From the Viking Age, 8th or 9th century.



Dr. Daniel Pipes read one of my essays about the situation in Sweden, and asked my to explain exactly why Swedish authorities are behaving the way they are doing. First of all, maybe I’m demonizing Sweden too much. I write so much about Sweden mainly because I’m emotionally attached to the country since I’m Scandinavian myself. Still, although the Islamic situation is arguably worse in some other countries such as France, Britain and the Netherlands, I think it is accurate to say that there is less real debate in Sweden than in any other country I know of. I suspect that Multiculturalism for segments of the political Left all over the Western world is an anti-Western hate ideology and a continuation of Marxism by other means, but I will also look at some local factors shaping Sweden.

Swedish stampSwedes became respected for their undeniable talent for business organization and for their strong work ethic, traits which have ensured that Sweden has left a mark vastly disproportionate to its small size. The botanist Carolus Linnaeus was praised by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on a par with Shakespeare and Spinoza. This dynamism was not in any way caused by the welfare state, rather it is these cultural traits that have kept the Swedish welfare state alive to this day. The Swedish Achilles’ heel is probably their ideological rigidity. It must be allowed to point out that Sweden appeased Fascism during WW2, Communism during the cold War and Islam today.

I can see three reasons why political debate Sweden is so censored. The historical explanation is the absence of war for almost two centuries, which makes Sweden unique by European standards, also compared to its Scandinavian neighbors. Maybe the prolonged period of peace and prosperity has created an environment in which layers of ideological nonsense have been allowed to pile up for generations without any reality check.

The second, and perhaps most important reason, is ideological. Sweden is viewed by many outsiders as a model nation. Swedes are keenly aware of this and want to keep up appearances. Since suicidal Multiculturalism is all the rage in the West, Swedes want to prove that they can be more suicidal than anybody else. It’s an ideological beauty contest, which serves Swedes fine, since they like to excel at everything they do.

TenstaIt has long been claimed by the founders of the Swedish welfare state that their model would be more just in dealing with ethnic minorities than the capitalist model of the United States. Of course, since Sweden was almost 100% white they could never prove this, so the elites decided to import some ethnic minorities in order to prove the superiority of their model. This didn’t quite work out the way they imagined, though. From the Swedish point of view, this is thus an ideological contest between two model states: Sweden and the United States. Being a model state can be a great boost for your ego, but sometimes a heavy burden for your health and sanity.

I am critical of aspects of the welfare state model, but it is true that it has probably worked better in the Scandinavian countries than anywhere else. The welfare state can work to some extent in ethnically homogeneous nation states with a strong cultural work ethic and a a talent for organization, which Sweden used to be. It is totally inapplicable in less homogeneous countries with mass immigration, such as the United States. The most lethal combination of all comes from mixing the American and the Swedish models, with high taxation and high levels of immigration. This will, in effect, turn your country into the welfare office of not just your own citizens, but of the peoples of other nations as well.
Vi kommer tillbaks!

Sweden is also a nation with a strong emphasis on consensus, which means that if the elites make the wrong decisions, the country has weak intellectual defenses and will receive few corrections once it embarks on the wrong course. If the state is intimately identified with a particular ideology, in this case Multiculturalism, those disagreeing with this ideology will quite literally be viewed as enemies of the state. This is a basic structural flaw of an ideological state.
- - - - - - - - - -
Researchers Gert Tinggaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen have written the book Social Kapital. When general levels of trust were measured in 86 countries, the Nordic nations Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland came out on top. According to the authors, the trust among citizens and the trust between citizens and the state is very high in these countries, and this “social capital” is highly profitable and accounts for up a to a quarter of these countries’ wealth. The Danes have emerged as the happiest people in Europe. Dr. Luisa Corrado, who led the research, said: “The survey shows that trust in society is very, very important. The countries that scored highest for happiness also reported the highest levels of trust in their governments, laws and each other.” However, Svendsen and Svendsen also warn that such trust is vulnerable. A society can lose its social capital rather quickly, but it can take centuries to rebuild it.

This social capital is now being squandered as a matter of official state policy all over Western Europe, accompanied by wild cheers from the media and the intelligentsia. Although high levels of trust are in many ways attractive and desirable, they also contain some potential pitfalls. People’s trusting nature makes them easy targets for outsiders from more cynical cultures, who view them as gullible fools, and it also makes them potentially vulnerable to betrayal from within.

Western Europeans were used to laws being passed with their consent and with their best interests in mind, because by and large they had been. Within a few years, all of this has changed. Laws are now passed by EU bureaucrats who don’t give a damn about their interests, and by elites who don’t care about their own people, who in fact view them as potential stumbling blocks for the new Multicultural society. Yet Europeans, by and large, still adhere to the laws and regulations that are passed by the state because they are culturally accustomed to doing so. Ordinary Europeans are thus held hostage by their own law-abiding nature while the state is turning increasingly hostile.

Tax graph

The third reason behind the totalitarian nature of Sweden is high tax rates. Neighboring Denmark and Finland are also welfare states, yet have proved somewhat more resistant to Multiculturalism. Cultural and historical factors thus play a significant role in this. However, I do believe there is a connection between lack of individual liberty and high tax rates, although not an automatic one. Sweden is a great example of why we need limited government, a state that only upholds law and order and does not concern itself with pushing a particular ideology on its people.

Why does the government dispense with the social contract and attack its own people? Well, for starters, because it can. The state has become so large and powerful that is has become an autonomous organism with a will of its own. The people are there to serve the state, not vice versa. And because state power penetrates every single corner of society, there are no places left to mount a defense if the state decides to attack you. Its representatives are no longer leaders of a specific people, but caretakers preoccupied only with advancing their own careers through oiling and upholding, and if possible expanding, the bureaucratic machinery.

As Alexander Boot writes in his book How the West Was Lost, “a freely voting French citizen or British subject of today has every aspect of his life controlled, or at least monitored, by a central government in whose actions he has little say. He meekly hands over half his income knowing the only result of this transfer will be an increase in the state’s power to extort even more. [...] He opens his paper to find yet again that the ‘democratic’ state has dealt him a blow, be that of destroying his children’s education, raising his taxes, devastating the army that protects him, closing his local hospital or letting murderers go free. In short, if one defines liberty as a condition that best enables the individual to exercise his freedom of choice, then democracy of universal suffrage is remiss on that score.”

F. A. HayekFriedrich A. Hayek warned in The Road to Serfdom against all collectivist ideologies, and feared that the social democratic welfare state would eventually propel society in a totalitarian direction. He has been dismissed as wrong, but was he? In Western Europe, it is difficult to imagine that we would have accepted the massively bureaucratic European Union if we hadn’t already been conditioned to accept state intrusion on all levels of our lives in our nation states. The EU became just another layer of bureaucracy. We now have a situation where a massive, inflated national and transnational bureaucracy runs our lives, and even writes our laws. We have become serfs, just as Hayek warned against.

It is possible to argue that this is a built-in flaw in the democratic system. As blogger Ohmyrus has shown, democracies will tend to expand into high-taxation welfare states because, simply put, there are more low-income people than rich people, and it is possible for politicians to stay in power by giving people access to other people’s money. But if individual liberty diminishes with high taxation and intrusive bureaucracy, and if democracies have a built-in tendency to gradually increase taxes and create more state jobs, does that mean that democracy will, over time, diminish individual liberty? Is democracy bound to go through cycles of bureaucratic inflation and collapse? This could well be a basic flaw in democracy, but I still believe we need a system where the majority population have a genuine say in politics.

When the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in 1912, the Third Class passengers, who were closest to the water level, could quickly see the water pouring in. They also suffered the highest casualty rates since they were closest to the problem and had the least amount of resources at their disposal when shipwreck occurred. Meanwhile, the First Class passengers were drinking brandy. They still suffered the lowest mortality rates because they had privileged access to the lifeboats. For this reason, we need to have a political system that takes into account the people at the grassroots level, or it will lead to needless human suffering.

A characteristic of the situation in Western Europe is that we have more and more laws, yet at the same time more and more lawlessness. The German journalist Jens Jessen claims that his country has been gripped by a “prohibition orgy” regarding tobacco, cars, cheap holidays and computer games, television and fast food. The process is “disconcerting and almost grotesque in its systematization.” He believes there is some level of compensation going on for the powerlessness of politicians.

Parallel with an explosion in street crime, the state turns on its law-abiding citizens with a proliferation of regulations and an inflation of laws. The less control the state has over the the most important tasks of society, the stronger its desire to assert its power over the tiniest details becomes. Or is it a subtle show of force, a constant reminder to the average citizen of who’s boss, a sign that resistance to state policies is feared?

As Jessen points out, the dangerous thing about this spirit of prohibition is that “once it’s out of the bottle, it spreads like an infection” whose first casualty is tolerance: “The fettered citizens are going to loll in security; the more unbearable the state regulations, the more relaxed they will feel. But such a society, one that makes the individual citizen and he alone responsible for all possible environmental sins, can easily become the blind accomplice to the worst catastrophes on the international stage.”

As Alexander Boot writes: “Parliaments all over the world are churning out laws by the bucketful. Yet, they fail to protect citizens so spectacularly that one is tempted to think that this is not their real purpose. […] Governments are no longer there to protect society and the individuals within it. [...] For that reason a crime committed by one individual against another is of little consequence to them.”

Theodore DalrympleTheodore Dalrymple has noticed the same trend in the United Kingdom, where Tony Blair’s Labour government “has created 3,000 new criminal offences in ten years, that is to say more than one per working day, when all along the problem in Britain was not a insufficiency of laws, but a lack of will to enforce those that we had. The law is now so needlessly complex, and so many laws and regulations are promulgated weekly, daily, hourly, without any parliamentary oversight, that is to say by administrative decree appropriate to a dictatorship, that lawyers themselves are overwhelmed by them and do not understand them. There could be no better recipe for the development of a police state.”

The state interferes in all aspects of life, and contributes to breaking down the nuclear family. Later, it creates expensive social programs to try and remedy the problems it has itself partly created. Whether this dynamic is part of an intentional policy or the result of a dysfunctional ideology is debatable, but the result is disastrous either way. And it becomes even worse when you add an additional layer of transnational regulations. As the British reader Archonix comments on the Gates of Vienna blog:

“In order to install an electrical socket in my kitchen I must comply with at least eleven separate regulations. Some are sensible, governing the type of wire to use and the general direction that wire should go in. Others are nonsense; in order to comply I have to place my sockets a certain distance from the floor no matter what their purpose. EU regulations now mandate by law the kind of taps I’m allowed to use in my bathroom. They mandate the height of my door, the height of the gap between the door and the ceiling and the angle of my stairs, to millimetre precisions. Every day I break about 30 laws whilst engaged in what were previously lawful activities. Most of these laws are EU-inspired regulations prescribing the details of how activities are to be carried out. My computer does not comply with regulations on lead content, electrical output or anything else, despite being perfectly safe. The lights in my house will soon be made illegal. None of this was done with the consent of Parliament. None was done with the consent of the people of this nation.”
Muslim Council of Britain

Also in Britain, polygamous husbands settling with multiple wives can claim extra welfare benefits. A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said it was quite common for men to undergo more than one Nikah (Islamic marriage contract) with different wives. This does not count as bigamy since only the first marriage is legally recognized. Islamic law is gaining a foothold in Britain, with sharia courts now operating in most larger cities.

Meanwhile, real criminals who actually do get caught receive lenient punishment. Dutch Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin is to introduce house arrest, monitored by an electronic bracelet, as a main punishment for the majority of criminals. Those convicted will be able to leave their homes for two hours every day for shopping, sports activities or a visit to a mosque. They will also receive welfare payments.

When does the rule of law break down? It breaks down when laws are no longer passed with the consent of free people, when citizens no longer feel that the law is just, when regulations become so numerous that it is virtually impossible even for decent individuals not to break the law on a regular basis and when the authorities are incapable of protecting their country’s borders while criminals rule the streets. It breaks down when the law appears increasingly arbitrary, when it invades the most intimate details of the life of law-abiding citizens while it allows great freedom to criminals. In short, it breaks down when it no longer corresponds to reality and to the sense of justice experienced by ordinary people.

Unless current trends are changed, I fear parts of Western Europe could reach critical mass soon.

23 comments:

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 05/14/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

gun-totin-wacko said...

A couple thoughts come to mind: First, as for excessive taxation, recall that someone- Ben Franklin, perhaps- said that democracy will survive only until the people discover they can vote themselves money from the national treasury. Or as P.J. O'Rourke put it, we live in a Parliament of Whores, and we are the whores.

The idea of anonymous officials making more and more laws is a scary one. I think it's hard to escape the conclusion that there really is a group of people who feel that it's important to prevent others from being offended. So you have to ensure that there are laws available to prevent Person A from saying anything that might offend Person B. Not to mention the desire among some on the left to find another approach to their collectivist paradise: When people sing the praises of Stalin and the Kims of North Korea, then these are people out of touch with any reality. They're willing to sit by as innocents are murdered and starved to death, in order to build a "perfect society". It's so irrational as to defy belief.

And of course the bureaucrats are always looking to find another way to keep themselves on the public dole. Passing more laws requires more lawmakers, more lawyers, and more politicians. It's job security for oneself.

Mark Steyn wrote an article, which is on his website, about the residents of Incumbistan.

http://www.steynonline.com/content/view/256/

I fear the system of democracy in the West is broken almost beyond repair. And I don't see a lot of people out there- at least, people who "matter" that are paying any attention to it. But someday soon, the debt will come due...

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

That is the best blog post I have read this past year, if not the past two.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

The Titanic analogy is brilliant.

Jun said...

The Swedish Achilles’ heel is probably their ideological rigidity.

Yes. And this is very much based on, or shored up by, the strong Swedish (really Scandinavian) national personality traits of social conformity and the talent for self-deception.

The social conformity that is such a strong part of the Scandinavian nature is a double-edged sword -- it's terrific for engendering the trust between members of society which you describe -- a trust which is really a strength. However, the strong urge for conforming can and does lead to a blind acceptance of whatever social norm is in vogue, whether it be based on facts or no.

The ability of Scandinavians to self-deceive themselves is a common aspect of human nature. For some reason, it seems particularly well-oiled in the Scandinavian soul.

These traits are not anything new, but have been around for some time -- prolly at least for the last few hundred years.

For examples see...

An Enemy of the People (En folkefiende) by Ibsen:

An Enemy of the People addresses the irrational tendencies of the masses, and the hypocritical and corrupt nature of the political system that they support. It is the story of one man's brave struggle to do the right thing and speak the truth in the face of extreme social intolerance.

...and Gunnar Myrdal, Swedish economist who was one of the earliest proponents of politically correct thinking.

Jun said...

An Enemy of the People, btw, was written in 1882 -- so there's not much new under the Scandinavian sun apparently.... ;-)

Ypp said...

Ha. The basis of Soviet Union was the Unbreakable Unity of Workers and Peasants and their Devotion to the Government and the Ideas of The Avanguard of the Mankind - The Communist Party.

Ypp said...

Modern people received everything for free: liberty, wealth, trust and rights. They started to think that all those virtues are naturally provided by the laws of nature. Economists added to this false view by advertizing the "invisible hand of the market" which is supposed to bring wealth itself, without effort. The truth is that all those virtues were accumulated by previous generations, who worked, fought and sacrificed their lifes for that.

Yorkshireminer said...

he laws in the west at the moment don't conform to the three things that make for good justice. One that they are quick two there are cheap and thirdly seen to be done. If one has caught up in the so called legal system I think I can say that it does not conform to any of the three mentioned criteria. Perhaps the main problem thou is that there is no punishment. Most people seem to forget that laws do not exist if there is no punishment. I think that there is still a law on the British Statute books that stems from the time of the 100 year war that you have to practice the bow and arrow arrow after church on Sundays if you are between the ages of 16 and 60 and that you can be fined if you do not comply. The problem was what do you do if it is raining. You go to the local pub, which in England was always next to the church and with a bit of creative thinking get round the law, this is how the game of darts started. Now if a policeman came and arrested me on the charge of not practicing with the bow and arrow after church on a Sunday, I think even now in these PC times it would be laughed out of court. Laws are only laws if you can be punished for breaking them. Sticking an electronic bracelet on someones ankle is not punishment, it is nothing more than an irritation. I think that there are several points that are not mentioned in this article two of them which feed off each other in a positive feed back loop technical societies generate wealth, in generating more wealth they generates more technology and more wealthy these societies become more complex they become to control and run this complex society a large proportion of this new wealth is used to build up a complex bureaucracy which is needed to run this more complex society. The richer a society becomes the more bureaucratic it has to become.

Another point that I would like to make is that the capitalistic system while it may produce the goods in abundance is not very good at distributing wealth. If it could do that then we would not be in the problems we are in now. The inequality in the distribution of wealth usually leads to revolution. The more the inequality of distribution of wealth the more likely a country is likely to suffer a revolution. The main political problem of the last century in the west, was how do we get a more equitable distribution of wealth while maintaining the merits of the capitalistic system which is extremely good at satisfying our wants and generating wealth. The social democratic way was redistribution through progressive taxation. Taxation has increased throughout all of the west in the last 100 years mainly to satisfy this goal. Once again the wealthier a country has become the more they have had to tax to maintain the same levels of income distribution. I think that you will agree looking at the graph that the richer a country is or become, then the more tax it pays. Maggie in the 80s resorted to a more classical capitalistic system, we then saw a redistribution of the wealth in favor of the rich to the detriment of the poor. Labor has somewhat redressed this in the last few years, how, by more taxation. Once again we come back to the problem of an enlarged bureaucracy which is needed to redistribute the enlarged tax base.

Globalisation doesn't help either. Globalisation in its simplest form, really means enlarging your markets. What is the E.U. but an enlarged market. To reach this point Europe has had to build a new layer of bureaucracy in Brussels. The choice then becomes what do we want more bureaucracy and more wealth, or less bureaucracy and less wealth. More wealth means more bureaucracy which means more control, which will mean that we are less able to defend ourselfs. The west is in a bind because it has not been able to solve the redistribution of wealth problem.

This is our real problem, to maintain the growth in wealth in modern western society, it has to install a more complicated larger bureaucracy which by doing so restricts our freedoms. The richer we become the more we lay ourselves open to the ravages of theocratic fascism. The question for me is will Europe implode first or will the Middle East. It all depends when America decides that it can't afford the hemorrhaging of its wealth in the war in Iraq, pulls out and lets the Middle East implodes.

Gringo_Malo said...

Once again the European situation that Fjordman describes sounds awfully familiar to this American. According to libertarian activist and author Claire Wolfe, we Americans are subject, on average, to eleven million pages of laws and regulations that have the force of law. Our government is unwilling to control our southern border. We do enjoy the advantage of being armed for protection against violent criminals, this week, but the left constantly attacks that right. Rule of law is breaking down in America as well as in Europe.

In my humble opinion, democracy itself is the problem. America, at its founding, was a republic. In a republic, taxpayers elect representatives to see that their money is wisely spent. As philosophers have noted, "democracy can only endure until a majority of citizens recognize that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury." (P.J. O'Rourke attributes this to an eighteenth century Frenchman whose name escapes me.) It's even worse when alien people from alien cultures enter one's country at will and help themselves to public largesse. Unfortunately, there's no democratic solution to democracy.

Profitsbeard said...

If you do not educate your people to honor their own greatness, you create spiritual dwarfs, prey to those who still teach their own people of their own greatness.

This "greatness" need not be literally true.

Islam's is mostly delusional, or horrifically cruel, or despotic.

But thugs like uber-thugs.

And they feel like Lions for Allah.

The more predatory tend to win.

The EU has been breeding itself into toothlessness, self-loathing, indecisiveness, historical self-hatred, and colonailistic guilt.

Without the compensation of their own past glories (knowledge of their own achievements in Science, Art, Music, Technology, Philosophy, Religion, etc.) to counterbalance the present learned castration, no nation will be able to withstand a healthy, un-self-divided, nakedly-predatory impulse.

livfreerdie said...

Well here's a little Constitutional fact that can help start to take the Republic back. Of course it depends on a few southern border state governors to do it.

Article: Section 10:No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, "or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay."

As the Feds have done little to nothing on illegal immigrants or drugs, it would appear those states are in imminent danger and can raise their own army to defend themselves. But alas, no guts, no backbone, no concern for their state or country.

Tom

livfreerdie said...

Sorry, that's Article I: Section 10.

Tom

gun-totin-wacko said...

Ah, but Tom, there's a flaw. It's like the concept of a "lawful order" in the military. If you refuse to obey an "unlawful" order, you'd better be right.

Similarly, if a state decided that there's an imminent threat to their safety, then I suspect the feds, the ACLU, immigrant groups, and the entire Democratic party would be all over them. Lawsuit after lawsuit, all of which would, I suspect, end badly for the state. The courts would decide there was no "imminent threat".

That being said, you're right: There is something to be said for that argument, but nobody will ever have the guts to try it. Even when unknown persons, wearing the uniform of the Mexican Army, enter US territory and open fire on Border Patrol officers. The Government just shrugs it off.

Ugh.

Paul said...

Ypp:

You said, "Ha. The basis of Soviet Union was ......". You have an interesting tone in your message.

I have a question for you, or for others who might care to respond: Do we now have contemporary analogous situations in the EU to this tale from the Soviet communist system, as told by Solhzenitsyn?

In the first volume of the 'Gulag Archipelago' the story is told of a factory superintendent, a Party member, who attended a party rally. Comrade Stalin's name was mentioned from the platform, after which everyone in attendance immediately rose to their feet with enthusiastic applause. So enthusiastic was the applause, that it continued on-and-on to the point of exhaustion for all in attendance. After 45 minutes people began looking for a way to stop and sit down that would not put themselves in danger.

The factory superintendent broke his applause cadance for just a second. That's all it took for others to break their cadence, stop and take their seats.

At the conclusion of his trial on some ridiculous false charge, the superintendent was sentenced to a twenty-fiver, 25 years in the camps.... a death sentence. He had no idea why he had been charged with a crime.

As he was being escorted out the door by the guards, (the blue caps), the prosecutor told him, 'never be the first one to stop'. At least he found out he was being punished.

Dumb Ox said...

Great stuff! Too much to digest in one sitting!

I particularly like the point about Swedish ethnic homogeneity as having been the key to why welgarism didn't ruin the society sooner. But those values only can persist an extra generation perhaps, then that cultural capital gets lost in the general complacency. Spiritual death and then physical death are the subsequent phases of cultural and political degeneration, leading to anarchy and despotism, or the cycle of political revolutions to use the classical term.

While I think Tocqueville does not have the full picture of human nature in his grasp, I think he may well have understand one of the keys to maintaining a vigorous republic: freedom, and more freedom. Only thusly do people learn to rely on themselves and to develop the character and virtue necessary for self-governance in a republic.

The Liberals in the U.S. and the Left in general will be the death of democracy as surely as they were in Russia, Italy, and Germany, paving the road to serfdom.

Best regards,
D. Ox

R. Hartman said...

@Yorkshireminer
While I tend to agree on your first paragraph, I feel your are totally wrong on the remaining three.

Redistribution of wealth does not work. You plead for it, while already indicating it keeps failing. Reason for that is that it is immoral. There is no moral justification for robbing the able in favor of the 'needy'. The real needy should be covered by a wellfare system. The state should not act as Robin Hood. The Ayn Rand Institute website http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=index has very good articles on the subject.

The EU is not an enlarged market. The world is a market, only restricted by bureaucratic politicians, that want to control markets in order to keep their national programs in place. They believe in a 'makeable' society, and a 'makeable' economy. There's no such thing. The EEG was the European market instrument, the EU is the government, doing on European scale to memeber states what local governments do to their citizens: rob them of their wealth and subsidise the needy, at least, the ones that are best at appearing needy. Mass fraude is the net result. A laissez faire free market can operate on a global scale requiring no government whatsoever.

So Western society does not 'have to install a more complicated larger bureaucracy', it wants to do that in order to gain and keep more control; it's all about power, not about prosperity and individual freedom.

Michiel said...

Fjordman wrote in his interesting article,

-"Meanwhile, real criminals who actually do get caught receive lenient punishment. Dutch Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin is to introduce house arrest, monitored by an electronic bracelet, as a main punishment for the majority of criminals. Those convicted will be able to leave their homes for two hours every day for shopping, sports activities or a visit to a mosque. They will also receive welfare payments."-

Although sentencing is indeed rather lenient in Holland, something that most people have wanted to change for years (in vain), the picture Fjordman paints is not entirely correct. The bracelets are meant for certain classes of 'minor' crimes, replacing a.o. short jail sentences.

Cindi said...

Yorkshireminer, how dare you! My wealth is not for 'redistribution' by you nor you-through-government. Robbing me of the wealth accumulated through my life's-hours of work robs me of my life.

It is this thought-process, that my wealth is government's to 'redistribute' that makes the productive outraged and the bureaucratic and indolent slaver.

A pox on those houses.

Yorkshireminer said...

Cindy said

Yorkshireminer, how dare you! My wealth is not for 'redistribution' by you nor you-through-government. Robbing me of the wealth accumulated through my life's-hours of work robs me of my life.

I am afraid your wealth my wealth every bodies wealth is for redistribution and you and I have no say in the matter. The means by which they do it is called Taxation it is as simple as that. Income tax was a supposedly temporary imposition foisted on the British public to help finance the Napoleonic wars, That temporary imposition is now permanent . When it was first imposed it was only a few coppers, paid mainly by the rich, now it is a large percentage of income paid by nearly everybody. I am not going into the rights and wrongs of high or low taxation, but taxation in a form of income distribution.

My main argument was that as countries become richer and more technologically advanced the governments need higher levels of income (taxation) to maintain the economies. The result of this is that the governments build up larger and larger bureaucracies which give them the ability to control the population more and more. We see the results now in the erosion of our freedoms. I was not making any moral judgment I was just stating a fact.

My other point was that redistribution of income is essential if you want a stably government, do you want to go back to the Gilded age of American capitalism where at parties the rich were given a cigar wrapped up in a $100 notes with which to light it, while at the same time thousands slaved for starvation wages in the sweat shops of New York. That my dear was a low taxation economy.

R. Hartman said...

@ Yorkshireminer
"...the governments need higher levels of income (taxation) to maintain the economies." This is the fundamental flaw in your reasoning. As I tried to point out, gouvernments should stay away from economies, and leave it to the free market. Gouvernments can only ruin everything they touch. In a free market economy, everybody gets wealthier, both rich and poor. People aren't equal, and it's immoral to extort the able in fvour of the lazy. Egalitarianism is the reason that socialism increases, crime rates increase, and morality dies. This is typical of the democratic system: it ends up with the tyranny of the majority. Look at Chavez's Venezuela: a democratically chosen dictator.
I refer you to Friedrich A. Hayek and Milton Friedman.

Taxation is not just a form of income distribution; if only it was, immoral as it is. Taxation is also used to make citizens pay the cost of robbing them of their freedom and privacy. It was explicitely banned by the Founding Fathers, as they knew what would be the result.

Yorkshireminer said...

Capitalistic systems are basically unstable and when left to themselves have a tendency to implode if you follow the economic history of the USA The economic philosophy that America followed during the period between the wars was as near as possible to the classic model, which is what you are proposing the Government keeps out as much as possible in the running of the economy and keep taxes low. What happened was an inflationary boom followed by the great depression, with how many people out of work 17,000,000 I think. If Roosevelt had taken your solution you would still be in the depression. His reaction was counter intuitive, borrow money and spend it generate jobs which generate taxes which can be used to pay the interest on the loans. America was pulling itself out of the doldrums when the economy went to overdrive fueled initially by British and French purchases. But later by high taxation and war loans. The American economy increased its output during the war by something in the region of 250% a phenomenal rate of growth. I think 50% was covered by taxes and the rest by loans. Yes the national debt was much larger but so was the tax receipts and the cost of the national debt were smaller than before the war. The theoretical underpinning for this was provided by John Maynard Keynes in his “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” written in 1936. This enabled the governments on both sides of the Atlantic to maintain full employment and economic growth for several decades after the war, until the first oil shock. One of the main reasons for this was a higher tax regime which allowed the Government, to fill in the depressions spend more money when the economy took a downturn and cut off the booms, take out money from the economy by higher taxation, when it started to overheat. Americans are 5 times more wealthier now than they were after the war. Do you want to go back to the economics of the 30s with its low taxation, everyman for himself and the devil take the hindmost.

You say (egalitarianism is the reason that socialism increases, crime rates increase, and morality dies.) does it really. I think you have to decide what you mean by socialism, do you mean Revolutionary Socialism, (communism) or Social Democratic socialism. They are two different beast, The British labor party that took over power in England in 1945 were certainly not revolutionary and certainly democratic. I was brought up in a Mining village in the North of England It was solid labour the conservative candidate always lost his deposited. I can't remember that we had much crime in fact we didn't. Morality, well the lot I grew up with , might have been a little unruly , but they were as decent and moral lot of people as you could ever wish to meet. Perhaps it is not Egalitarianism that is the problem but a lack of it. Isn't Egalitarianism implied in the Golden rule do unto others as they would have them do unto you.

I have by the way read Milton Friedman, his monetary panacea did not really impress me although I like to watch him on television he always comes over as an exceedingly sincere and erudite person. My personal preference is John Kenneth Galbraith, his books are well worth a read if only for his style. When it comes to Economics though I think a mixture of the two monetarism and good dose of fiscal policy in the right proportions is the best antidote for dogma, and works best. Keynes once said that Most men are lead by dead economists unfortunately the politicians we have got now, especially the right wing ones are lead by one who has been dead for 200 year Adam Smith. I think it is about time we put him to rest.

R. Hartman said...

As Ludwig von Mises said: "Unemployment in the unhampered market is always voluntary". The key word here is 'unhampered'.

Your basic assumption seems to be that a florishing economy is impossible if not controlled by government. Then why is economical growth always claimed by governments as the success of their manipulations, but economical decline and depression always the result of unforeseeable outside factors the governemnt can't be blamed for? You mention Keynes, but while current education still almost uniquely mention Keynes, and not Friedman, Rothbard or Mises, Keynes' theories are "nothing but a tissue of logical falsehoods reached by means of obscure jargon, shifting definitions, and logical inconsistencies intended to establish a statist, anti-free-market economic system." (Hans Hermann Hoppe, http://mises.org/story/2492 ).

The reason Keynes is still widely adopted is that his theories require governments to massively involve themselves in the market, and thus provides them with an excuse for an economic power base. Large governments will create more and more rules, extending their power and diminishing individual freedom.

With socialism, I refer to the current pampering states that are in effect in Europe, and upcoming in America. The mass immigration, as is also happening in the US ( the 12.000.000) are required for the Left to maintain their electorate, while these people have no means of contributing to prosperity. They will all have to be paid for by the working class, who get robbed of the fruits of their labor, to provide a living for the poor. This is egalitarianism, and it makes the working class slaves of the non-contributors. I believe the term that applies here is Cultural Marxism: http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/02/cultural_marxism.html

You (and I) grew up in a time where moral values still meant something. As everybody is now entitled to everything, without being required to work for it, morale is destroyed, and loutism florishes. Why work for something if you can have it for free? As things are not earned anymore, there is no sense of value in private property anymore. This is all due to the socialist governments that preach egalitarianism.