THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Culture at the Mall

Government; the ultimate organised crime

Some years ago I got talking to a man on a train. He was senior adviser to the then Education Minister. He told me a story of which he was proud. The large stores on Oxford Street had complained about shoplifting by pupils from local schools during lunch breaks. He had met with representatives of the stores and persuaded them to donate money to finance lunchtime activities to keep the pupils away from the shops. I told him it was not a new idea. Organised criminals called it a "protection racket." He laughed, but acknowledged I had a point.

We hear a lot from government about crime but although they like to compare themselves to businesses, talking cheerily of "services" and "customers," they resemble organised crime much more than they resemble your friendly local capitalists.

Consider the consequences if you don't pay your taxes. Are they any different than if you fail to pay your local mobster his cut? Ultimately no. Taxes are legitimised extortion; demanding money with menaces. An interviewee on 18 Doughty Street last night laughed at a viewer who objected to paying tax to support political parties of which he did not approve. "Spending money on things you disapprove of is what Governments do," he said, "that's no argument."

Of course, he had a point. When the local mob has extorted its cut of your profits, you would hardly dare to tell them how to spend it. It was only surprising, on reflection, that a supporter of legalised extortion should be so frank about his contempt for naieve people who expect government to take account of their views.

What about the local and national tax paid for the "police service" (as the spin doctors have renamed it from the more honest "police force")? How exactly does that differ from "protection money?" If you don't pay it, the forces offering to protect you will be used against you. It's the same deal, except that the service is inferior. I would love to pay "Vinnie No Neck" to break the legs of the scum who so frightened my wife that she no longer feels safe alone at our house in England. Would the local police do that for me? Of course not. We didn't even bother to call them. We knew they wouldn't come. Would they let me do it myself? Of course not. They are there to protect their gang bosses from me.

The National Lottery is the "numbers game" and the wise guys running the racket divert the proceeds to unauthorised purposes by stuffing the relevant committee with members of their own political "family". The examples go on and on.

Don't let your local politicoes fool you by using the consumer-friendly language of those nice businessmen who meet your needs on competitive terms. Their business model is quite different, but it is by no means unique.