The end of days?
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Intercepting mail is worthy of the Stasi | Henry Porter | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.If the polls are to be believed, a lethal proportion of our fellow-citizens remains willing to vote Labour in a few weeks time. This, despite all the evidence of the terrible damage that Labour has wrought.
Labour has lost our AAA credit rating. The agencies haven't announced it yet, presumably so as not to seem political. But bankers of my acquaintance are in no doubt it will happen. They are already re-pricing the nation's debt on that assumption and the epic costs of servicing it will soon rise. Britain has dropped in every international economic ranking. Yet Labour is winning the economic argument. It is winning it with the Keynesian idea that the government should prime the pumps with public money during a recession. That's a respectable argument (even if I don't buy it). What's not respectable is that no-one is pointing out that the pumps should be primed from tanks filled with reserves during the good times. Labour ran those tanks dry years ago. They can't be blamed for a global recession. They must be blamed for that lack of prudence. Why can't the charmless Gideon Osborne and his soigné chum Dave make that simple point?
In fairness, how can they reason with an electorate that believes government can "put money into" the economy? From which other economy do Labour voters think it gets that money? Do they think Alistair Darling leads parties of rievers during the night to raid the Banque de France? Do they imagine he has a stargate in Number 11 through which he runs convoys of trans-dimensional space freighters? Yes, I know he can print more money. He can and by God he has. But currency only represents value, it has no intrinsic worth. Bank notes (and numbers in bank accounts preceded by a "£" sign) are just tokens, like casino chips. They have precisely as much value, in aggregate, as exists in the economy. Stealing one players chips and giving them to another doesn't help. Making more chips doesn't help. Real value has to be earned.
As so often, the wisest words ever written by a Jewish teenager in Queens spring to mind;
The British population is not, on average, stupid or insane. It is however in deep denial. It cannot face an economic truth quite so horrific. Perhaps voting for the agents of economic apocalypse is psychologically the very best way of denying it's happening? God knows.
Yet the economy is by no means the worst of it. After all, no Labour government ever left the economy better than it found it. How could it? Labour hates wealth creation. Its puritanical creed revolves around the chastisement of the men and women who do it. It is not, and it has never been, more than the ideologicalisation of Envy. Perhaps the best way to counter it would be to found a political party based on another of the Seven Deadly Sins? Lust might give them a run for their money.
No, the worst of this government's works has been its sustained onslaught on liberty. Labour voters have always envied the distant rich but despised the predatory criminals near at hand. They have always hated their more productive fellow citizens, but loved their nation. The working classes of Britain, unlike Labour ideologues, are criminal-hating patriots; a.k.a. Tories. That was the electoral flaw Mandelson, Brown and Campbell sought to mask when they made "New Labour" - and put up a chirpy, charming, clueless public schoolboy to front it.
They are personally as fond of economic excuses for crime as any Labour intellectual. I am sure they despise our nation as much as, if not more than most of their crew. But they cynically decided to manipulate perceptions in order to counter the long-standing (and accurate) impression of Labour as unpatriotic and weak. They did it very well.
"Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime"
...was a clever slogan. The second part expresses Labour's insulting belief that we are mere automata of social forces; that exposed to economic hardship any of us will become a predator and a parasite. The faithful heard that part, but the politically-inattentive voters caught only the first three -surprising- words. The party's conduct toward criminals is unchanged. If stupid enough to get caught, they are briefly coddled, equipped with psycho-babble to baffle the next investigating officer, and sent on their merry way to undermine property rights and demoralise the prudent. All on state benefits, of course. John Gotti had implausibly to pretend to be a plumber to explain how he earned his bread. All Britain's criminals have "the social" as a front (and as a start-up grant when they embark on their careers).
So, instead, Labour has expressed its "toughness" by criminalising thousands of new activities. it has expressed its "toughness" by demanding the population pays a heavy price to defeat crime by sacrificing those irritating freedoms that Labour always hated. The very freedoms that (it deludes itself) prevented previous Labour governments from achieving the victory of socialism. Their CCTV cameras don't work half the time. Those that do produce grainy useless images and have not reduced crime at all. But that's not what they are for. They are to accustom you to state surveillance. The scanners that strip you naked at the airport are no proof against crime neither. They are merely the outward and visible sign of your submission to state power. How ironic that Muslims, the name of whose religion means "submission" are the ones refusing to submit.
Henry Porter (who is far too good to work for The Guardian and really needs an honest job) says it all in the linked piece. Referring to the imminent changes in the law to permit the Revenue to open your mail without permission, he says;
Years ago I found myself in a dismal room at the Stasi headquarters in the East German town of Leipzig and saw the piles of opened mail left by Stasi officers when the Berlin Wall came down. There was a pulping machine, adapted from a piece of agricultural machinery, which had been hastily used to destroy the evidence of the massive programme of interception. It was an impressive sight and to me a lasting symbol of the East German dictatorship.
Quite, Henry. Perhaps it's time for you - and any others not completely lost to humanity among the Guardian's employees - to acknowledge what your Labour Party has become.
Perhaps it's also time to take heart from that dismal story. The greatest event of our lives was symbolised by the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Stasi did not endure. Socialism failed as it always must. Every decent human yearns to be free. While we may be fooled for a while by "big ideas" that promise us "social" benefits from individual oppression, in the end economic murder will out. But not just yet, it seems.
On a related note, Kit Malthouse ("deputy mayor for policing in London") wrote an article for The Times yesterday calling for the abolition of all taxes except VAT (LPUK policy, IIRC):
VAT is certainly less invasive than income tax and corporation tax, but I'm a bit apprehensive of the cashless society he eagerly anticipates. With our current system, an enemy of the state could very quickly find himself without means.
Posted by: Suboptimalplanet.blogspot.com | Wednesday, April 07, 2010 at 11:51 AM
Thanks for highlighting Porter's article. It is a truly frightening step, all the more frightening for the silence with which it has been received.
HMRC was also in the news recently for not answering the phone. Coverage focused on how to improve service, but that is surely the wrong solution. The real problem is that we have a tax system so complicated that phone calls to HMRC are required. A simplified tax system would deliver massive savings within HMRC, and even more significant savings in compliance costs. Rather than burning time and money on tax avoidance, companies and individuals would focus on what they do best, creating real wealth.
Porter's article highlights another danger of our current system. By tying contributions and rebates to our individual circumstances, it creates an incentive, or excuse, for the government to pry into our most private affairs.
Posted by: Suboptimalplanet.blogspot.com | Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 01:01 PM
if it wasn't, it is now. B^) Thank you.
Posted by: Tom | Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 06:28 PM
Is ideologicalisation a word? If it is, it shouldn't be!
Posted by: begob | Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 06:12 PM
Just found you and will put you on my blogroll - damn good post, Sir!
Posted by: WitteringsfromWitney | Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 03:25 PM
It is back to 1946 in many ways and possibly worse in some respects. But not many of us remember '46 and most of those that do have forgotten. This is not going to be nice.
Posted by: Demetrius | Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 03:23 PM
"The British population is not, on average, stupid or insane. It is however in deep denial. It cannot face an economic truth quite so horrific."
I don't think the population is at all in denial. They know things are bad and they know things will be painful. The problem is that they want everyone to pay for it but themselves. This is why none of the parties are willing to step forward and say where the spending axe will fall, the certain knowledge that they'll be punished by anyone affected.
Posted by: Dan Brusca | Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 02:18 PM
A great article hits the right spots. Unfortunately "cast iron" Dave does not. The question is why should the electorate reward another liar? I have always voted Tory, although I now live in France and it is difficult to vote I can easily place a proxy vote. But to tell the truth I can't be arsed to make any effort for the boy king pretender. At least Sarkosy hears his discontent populace, he threw out the carbon tax until the rest of the world takes it up.
Posted by: Peter Whale | Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 01:36 PM
I for one, am sick and tired of hearing about Henry Porter, the hypocritical statist gatekeeper, who whines about the state's predations and then in the same breath, submits to it absolutely:
"Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always believed that the democratic state must be given power to act on behalf of us"
He also, while we are at it, doesn't understand the Google:
I agree with you 100%. What this means is that we are closer to the end and the end WILL come, because human beings were not designed to live like this, and cannot prosper in a caustic environment like this. That is quite apart from the laws of economics which, like the laws of physics cannot simply be ignored with a wave of the hand and some management speak. Gravity asserts its influence wether you like it or not. You cannot create energy from nothing, and you cannot create value by running a printing press.
That is what brought the Soviets down, and it is what will bring the Keynesian western democracies down. We will all live to see it, guaranteed.
Posted by: Irdial | Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 01:24 PM