The Santa Claus Government

The pivotal question that is most disagreed upon by everyone in politics is “how much power should the state have?” Answers range from: totalitarianism, with the argument being that a state must control everything to maintain order, nothing can be entrusted to private interests because they might make mistakes; to anarchy, where all necessary services can be provided by the market. Most people that call themselves libertarians lie between a tiny state and no state, in a sort of limbo about whether the state should exist or not, I call them anarcho-curious.

 

Most statists see the state as a Santa Claus figure, giving goodies out to all the poor people and not giving any critical thought as to where those goodies really come from.  I would imagine most people reading this would have some sort of critical thought and know that the government doesn’t magically great goodies to hand out. I would imagine that most people following this blog would be against a Santa Claus state. However I too believe that government should be like Santa, but in another way: unseen, unheard and questionable as the whether it even exists or not. This is a model that the anarcho-curious can quite easily grab on to and help perpetuate. Surely it’s harder to convince the statists that their belief in mandatory government is false than it is to tell them that the government is actually secretly in charge of everything and everything good that the free market does is actually the government. Just like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, children can grow up believing in government and when they come of age we can reveal to them that everything they thought the government was doing is being handled by private individuals working in the market. The statists will be happy thinking that government controls everything and will not seek to ruin our lives because they’re scared that if someone doesn’t control everything bad things will happen.

 

Of course there will have to be some changes, even the most die hard capitalists will admit there are some things that a free market cannot fix and naturally people will go looking for the government to get it to try and fix the unfixable as well as satisfy their need to vent their frustrations, I propose having a fake politician go around and pretend to listen to people, just like a department store Santa. People can come and air their grievances to these people. It would be a hard job listening to socialists whine all day, but it would be a necessary public service that I would gladly do to keep the socialists from bothering us and I could probably convince some of them that they owe taxes to me. As for voting, fake elections would be held every 3 years the voting would all be done online and all the candidates would be the same person in different disguises. Anyone wanting to run for office would have be given a 1900-number to call, an automated answering device would pick up and have them follow a never ending series of prompts and they would eventually get fed up and hang up. Parliamentary TV broadcasts like Question Time could just be a bunch of actors, some people might protest to ad breaks in parliament, but you can always fund it through product placement in speeches, and by the level of discourse you see in Question Time it would be more believable. Welfare is a bit trickier; trying to guilt recipients out of it hasn’t worked in the past; a better solution would be playing on their dogmatic faith in government and fear of the free market and say that welfare is actually capitalism in disguise.

 

The only downside to all this is that we will be forced to lie to our statist friends and family about what is really going on lest they become despondent and confused because they’ve just found out their whole world is a lie. You may have a friend that you really want to tell, but exposing them to the idea that they are actually responsible for their own actions and have been their entire life is a concept too shocking for most people. Just like a parent taking their hands off a kid’s bike when they’re learning to ride, it’s something that has to be done silently lest the rider lose confidence and crash. It’s up to you to keep your statist friends and family ignorant so they don’t freak out and actually try to govern us.

 

Clearly the Santa Claus model of government is the best. It allows everyone the level of government they want, all they have to do believe in it. The best thing is it’s not that different from the model we have now: A group of people that pretend to fix problems while wasting a lot of money, the only difference is we’re just adding another level of pretend. One day we may not have to keep the ruse, but until society is ready to accept our right to self-governance, we will just have to perpetuate the myth that the state exists.

Andrew Bolt, Race and Identity Politics

WARNING: VERY LONG POST

In a recent court decision, conservative commentator Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaching the Racial Vilification Act (Eatock vs. Bolt, see http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2011/1103.html ).

From the classical liberal perspective, the good intentions behind the Racial Vilification Act do not justify the existence of the Act; Free Speech is an absolute right which is only bounded by fraud (for example, in the case of actual defamation) and coercion (i.e. making threats of violence or similar forms of extortion).

I am not a viewer of Andrew Bolt, although in full disclosure I did once send him an email which corrected a philosophical mistake of his; he accused Postmodernism of being Metaphysically Subjectivist (i.e. people’s minds literally remake reality). I believe that to be mistaken since Postmodernism is Epistemologically Subjectivist, typically on philosophical grounds derived from German Idealist thought. This has been my only interaction with his work in the past, and I know little about him. Although I was pleasantly surprised when reading his Wikipedia page that he’s an Agnostic rather than a religionist.

But the reason for this post is that I found a specific comment about the Bolt case interesting from the perspective of political philosophy.

Commentator Brian F. McCoy argued that the ultimate issue in the Bolt case wasn’t freedom of speech. He identified the core issue as “freedom of identity” (see http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=28512).

What a fascinating concept.

“Identity” in the context of the case was referring to social identity or the groups with which one identifies.

The following article is not so much a deliberate argumentative essay per se. Rather, it is a set of commentary on a series of interconnected issues raised by the Bolt affair. In it, I will cover epistemological and philosophical considerations relating to the concept of “social identity” and I will also discuss the various analytical frameworks and assumptions that are used when dealing with the concept. Ultimately I will launch into a discussion of Brian McCoy’s “freedom of identity.”
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“There Outta Be A Law!” – Toddlers And Tiaras Edition

“There Outta Be A Law!” – Toddlers And Tiaras Edition
By Andrew Russell

Ever since the announcement that Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant was planning to hold a children’s beauty pageant in Melbourne, plenty of Australian parents flocked to the latest and greatest Moral Panic. The pageant is now over, but the Moral Panic makes for interesting analysis.

As is depressingly typical in Australian politics, said parents (mostly affiliated with the group Pull The Pin) were not happy with merely privately boycotting the event or protesting it; they aim to make children’s beauty pageants illegal in Australia (see: http://www.pullthepin.com.au/). In other words, “I don’t like it, so There Outta Be A Law against it!”

The Pageant was going to feature Eden Wood; child Beauty Queen who was extensively featured, gyrating around in a pink sequinned Stripper Cowgirl outfit, on several Current Affairs shows. Eden cancelled; conflicts between Today Tonight and A Current Affair prevented her from attending.

As per usual, the Moral Panic over Universal Royalty’s event included every libertarian’s most loathed four-word logical fallacy; “think of the children!”

According to both Pull The Pin and Australians Against Child Beauty Pageants, these events harm the stars of the show. They harm the children they claim to be celebrating.

Pull The Pin’s petition for laws against child pageants (http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/pull-the-pin-on-beauty-pageants-for-children.html) reads as follows;

“We believe that child beauty pageants instil harmful messages in children (girls in particular as they make up the majority of participants), including that their looks are their currency.

We feel that child beauty pageants are exploitative and not in the best interests of the child, but the commercial interests of pageant promoters and parents living vicariously through their children.

We would like to see age restrictions applied (16+) so that the decision to compete against their peers in a beauty contest is made with full consent, and when their emotional maturity better enables them to fully comprehend and handle any negative self esteem impacts. We oppose the narrow gender messages child beauty pageants help perpetuate, doing nothing to improve the status of women in general, and encouraging ever younger games of ‘compare and despair’.”

In this article, I will make four basic arguments;
1) Fears of ‘child sexualization’ are clearly overblown,
2) Some anti-Pageant forces may be acting out of wounded pride rather than the interests of the children,
3) The Pageant critics make some very legitimate identifications of problems with child beauty pageants, but these problems are also found in children’s sports and no one is trying to ban them,
4) Finally, there seems to be a troubling undertone of xenophobia amongst anti-Pageant forces.
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War on Drugs turns 40.

Today, Nixon’s War on Drugs is celebrating its 40th birthday. Nanny staters everywhere are joining with sadists, wowsers, police state groupies, and dog haters in raising the odd glass, while thinking up new ideas to get tougher on the population at large. After all, ‘if it saves one life….”

Some of the images here are sickening to the point where most of our current crop of authoritarians will probably get off on it:

Australians remember Rudd’s War on drugs, but compared to these guys, he was not really taking it seriously. Of course, his was just one of the campaigns in his wider “war on everything.”

FEE has a fitting tribute to the occasion here including Nixon’s ‘mission accomplished’ statement.

Meanwhile, Arlo Guthrie credits the Narcs for his rise to success in his own inimitable way.

Irresponsible gambling

The problem with irresponsible gamblers is the word “irresponsible” not the word “gambler”. The same is true with “irresponsible drinking” or “irresponsible drug-use” or any other irresponsible action. It is not the existence of gambling or alcohol or drugs that create irresponsible behaviour. And yet the nanny-state campaigners want to punish the product instead of addressing the underlying problem. With wowsers Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie in parliament, and the government in trouble with the carbon tax, the pressure is growing for the government to “do something” about poker machines.

It’s easy to attack poker machines. I don’t like them. I enjoy playing texas hold’em poker for the judgement, excitement and social element… none of which I get from poker machines. But personal preference is besides the point. In a free society, people should be free to pursue their own hobbies and activities, and I shouldn’t force my preferences on others. People who use poker machines (like smokers and shooters) are the new whipping boys of politics. While “progressive” politicians love to wax lyrical about defending minorities, they only seem to defend fashionable minorities. And while trendy lefties will advertise the moral superiority of their tolerance, they only seem to tolerate groups which they actually like.

People who enjoy playing poker machines are seen as the “wrong sort of minority” and therefore they apparently deserve no tolerance.

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Bloody Victorians, on the spot fines for bloody swearing.

“Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.” –  Mark Twain.

Well, there is the old adage, “Nothing any good comes out of Victoria.” Now it seems that police there are being given the power, (which they love,) of fining people on the spot for swearing. There is at the moment no news regarding poor grammar and split infinitives. Legislators claim it will allow police to deal with it on the spot rather than clog up the court system.

This probably has more to do with revenue raising than keeping a bit of couth and decorum in the state, even though those Victorian bastards like to consider their bloody state to be the home of culture. Lets face it, the cost of taking it to court to fight it is probably more than the fine of up to $240, even in the situation of a minimum wage earner who might barely take home that much in a week.

This is a bad move for the justice system for these offences to be taken out of the court system. Courts provide a vital moderating influence because there is an independent arbiter to consider the facts of what in most cases happens in the heat of the moment. After proper consideration, a judge might in fact decide that the cop was in fact a cockhead or a f**kwit.

This places the average citizen at the mercy of whatever cop they get on the wrong side of. It is particularly bad news if he has had a bad day and feels like making a prick of himself, or missed out last night and is determined to make some poor bastard pay.

The Power of one, or how to screw the people and make a deal.

That visit to the pub and a few beers has not come under too much threat yet other than the need to be under the limit if you intend to drive. Tossing a few bucks into the pokies for a flutter while you are at it is about to become a whole lot more complex though.

Our Prime Altruist Julia Gillard has announced that she is determined to push through gambling restrictions, which she calls reforms, (sounds better, doesn’t it?) on poker machines. This she claims will “ease the suffering of families hit by problem gambling.” She has not explained why if gambling is a problem, she is only dealing with one form of it, but we know why.

Yesterday in “A great week for the nanny state, killjoys and wowsers,” I observed:

Take for a start, Gillard’s pet Green Independent, Andrew Wilkie who is obsessed with problem gamblers to the point of wanting us all forced to set a limit on our wagers on the pokies. This under normal circumstances would be dismissed as eccentricity, but the Gillard government is depending on his vote to drag her sorry arse across the line. The Greens after all have what their Senator, Christine Milne described as a power sharing agreement with the government.

In her statement today, she makes it clear that all pokies users are to be “reformed” because of the obsessive demands of one man. Continue reading