THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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September 2011

Not 'Christian rights' but 'human rights'

Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death: Nadarkhani Refuses to Convert - International Business Times.

Why does this story gain so little traction in the media? Why do only 'Christian rights' groups seem interested in the plight of a pastor who will not - even to save his life - renounce his beliefs? I can understand why libertarians are silent. We don't like it of course, but it's in Iran and therefore a matter for the Iranian people. But where are all the bloodthirsty statists who usually call for our soldiers to be used as armed educators?

I don't believe opinion or its expression (by anything other than deeds having serious adverse impact on others) should ever be punishable by law. I have heard many a leftist call for bloody revolution in my time. So what? Unless and until he actually starts to kill those who disagree with his views on control of the means of production, he's no problem. At least he's forewarned us of his predilection for violence. If someone calls for violence against Jews, immigrants or climate change deniers that's equally fine by me. As long as he doesn't act on it.

I wouldn't invite such nut jobs to dinner, you understand. I would be very concerned if one wanted to marry one of my daughters. But I have no desire to strike them with with that blunt instrument known as 'law'. There was a time when that was the typical British view of such matters. The last government's obsession with 'hate speech' however, and the Coalition's failure to repeal any of their stupid laws, has knocked us off that moral high ground. Perhaps that explains the silence of the usual suspects? It's not as if something important like this chap's 'right to work' is being threatened. Or his 'right' to an alternative sexuality. It's only his freedom of thought (and his thoughts are not like ours) so don't worry.

This story also strengthens my suspicion of all who preface the word 'rights' with any qualifier but 'human'. There are not nearly as many 'human rights' as are claimed, but one characteristic of a real one is that it is for everyone. For example, the 'right to life' or, more precisely, the right not to be wilfully killed by another human should apply equally to all. If any so-called 'right' is expressed as specific to a particular group, you will usually find that group (or someone seeking some benefit from that group) is on the make.

So I am disappointed (but not surprised) that few rights activists and advocates have had anything to say about Pastor Nadarkhani's imminent demise. A fellow-human is going to be killed for standing (rather impressively) by his beliefs. If that does not concern us, do we really care about 'human rights' or are we just hypocrites waving that flag in to obtain more privileges for our own favoured group?

What kind of country has Britain become? (Part II)

Teenage sisters sentenced over plot to kill their grandfather, 89 | UK news |

This beggars belief. As for the judge's concerns about the would-be murderers' youth and immaturity, my only question is this; how much 'maturity' does it take to know it's wrong to batter your granddad with housebricks? I am fairly sure I knew that before I could lift a brick.

I am also sick and tired of the use of the word 'vulnerable' as in;

The judge described the three girls as "vulnerable" and under the influence of the mother, adding that they had acted out of fear of her.

The 'vulnerable' person here was the dementia-sufferer attacked with deadly force. Not any of the brick-wielders. Some people have nasty parents but turn out nice. This proves it's possible. Therefore all who don't are responsible for their own nastiness.

I give it 24 hours before The Guardian is blaming you and me - with our shocking bourgeois focus on traditional morality - for this incident, so let me get our retaliation in first. The Guardian-reading, Fabian Society-supporting classes, with their relentless assault on morality, education and the nuclear family share the blame for this shocking attack. If only they could experience just one searing moment of self-awareness, that would be justice enough for me.

If I were this poor old gent, I would rather have died than know my family for what his are. Dementia is not normally considered a blessing, but perhaps in his case, it is.

Incompetence is not a bug, it's a feature

Dead federal retirees paid $120 million yearly, report says - The Federal Eye - The Washington Post.

Just to hammer home my point that it's not the character or intelligence of public sector employees that - for the most part - I question. It's the whole concept of big government itself and all the Milton Friedman Category IV spending it involves. The good old US of A is (of course) no better in this respect - for all its entrenched religiosity and superior financial education;

In one dramatic case, a deceased annuitant’s son continued receiving federal benefits until 2008 — 37 years after his father’s death. OPM [the federal government's Office of Personnel Management] learned of the improper payments — which exceeded $515,000 — only after the son also died. The agency never recovered the payments.

I do not seek to detract from the son's crime. The government might have sent him the cheques in error, but he cashed them in sin. But seriously. If it were your money, would you have kept paying without ever checking?

Of course, if you are an American taxpayer, it was your money and (by the agency of your public servants) you did. Just like British taxpayers bought six billion pounds' worth of military equipment which our public servants (at best) lost, (at worst) sold to the enemy or (most likely) some combination of the two.

I am sorry, but this kind of thing is not a glitch to be ironed out in the model. It is the model. Big government trashes lives by locking good people into unproductive work financed by extortion from the productive work of others. How many decades of this nonsense will it take before belief in the intrinsic moral superiority of government action dies?

Who pays? What a naive question.

Has any one lost their job over half-billion pound waste? | Grassroots | The TaxPayers' Alliance.

This is so naive. Of course the answer is 'No.' It's not even a sensible question. The job objectives of public 'servants' are so much more complex than in the private sector, as is their relationship with their bosses. No doubt some politician signed off this scheme; probably to make political capital by publicly 'caring' about such popular front-liners as firemen.

Perhaps the civil servants knew from the outset the project would fail, but did their level best? Perhaps. Or perhaps they didn't give a damn. After all, why should they?

Even to discuss it is to make the false assumption that efficient government is possible. Even in the private sector, when all economic interests are aligned, humans find ways to foul up. But spending limitless supplies of other people's money obtained by force on 'services' no-one would choose to pay for guarantees it. Why do we continue to be (or pretend to be) outraged when the inevitable happens? After all, this particular failure is quite minor compared to the £6 billion of materiel lost by the Ministry of Defence. Yet that story passed in minutes, with no political (or employment) consequences.

For these are failures only in the banal terms by which those of those of us outside public 'service' live our lives. Neither of these massive cock-ups was a 'failure' for the civil servants or their bosses. The former got their salaries, pensions and honours. The politicians remained focussed on the only thing they care about; winning a popularity contest in the next 1-5 years to allow them to get money the market would never pay them. To hope for different outcomes is to assume there is a 'right' form of this legalised, but still evil, gangsterism.

The state is inherently inefficient. The only way to avoid such colossal waste (both of taxpayers' money and of lives in politics and the public sector that might otherwise have been productive) is to scale it down. All else is dangerous delusion.

The state is not your friend

Pat Nurse has a worrying post up at her blog. A professional colleague and his wife almost lost their children some years ago over unfounded allegations of abuse similar to those now faced by Pat's daughter. My colleague and his wife are wealthy, articulate and both qualified lawyers, yet still they struggled in the face of the state's unfailing assumption that only it may be trusted. I hope things work out well for Pat's family. They are in greater peril than she seems to know.

My own story of state malevolence is smaller, but perhaps equally telling. When Mrs P. died a certificate of the cause of death was signed (as required by law) by her doctor. I was politely asked to take it to the local authority's registrar so that the formal death certificate could be issued. The form itself was less polite however. It bluntly set out my duties as 'informant' and the penalties for non- (or imperfect) compliance. In the worst moment of my life, the British State was threatening me. You may say the system protects us all by allowing the investigation of suspicious deaths. I answer you thus; Dr Harold Shipman. Any system of certification, state-sponsored or otherwise, is only as good as the individuals signing the certificates.

In a daze, I attended the local Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths the next morning. The receptionist, bless her heart, was a friendly, chirpy lady. I mention it as it's so unusual. I don't think I have experienced any other pleasant exchange with a state employee (apart from teachers) in 54 years as a British citizen. Have I been unlucky? You tell me. I have been out of Britain for twenty of those years so it's fair to say my sample of interactions includes an unusually high number of contacts with immigration officers. They were never pleasant and have been noticeably less so since Tony Blair gave them FBI-style badges to swagger about with.

The Registrar herself - an Eastern European immigrant with passable English - had fully mastered the British bureaucratic stance. Though near-strangers had been kind to me in my grief and though I was fresh from my wife's death bed with my eyes still red and swollen, she did not (unlike her nice receptionist) offer a word of condolence. Asked about my wife's occupation, I said she had been a teacher but not for many years and never liked it mentioned. At this, she offered to write 'housewife' - a word Mrs P. liked even less. I asked politely why it could not be left blank as Mrs P had been a lady of leisure. She ignored the question and wrote 'housewife'. Challenged on that, she wrote 'secondary school teacher.' I was too upset to argue.

In the package she sold me (for though certification is compulsory and for the state's convenience I had to pay the surly harridan a fee) was another government notice. This told me I must inform the Department of Social Security of my wife's demise (an institution she never once troubled in life). Why should the organs of the state communicate with each other, after all, when they can use the bereaved as messenger boys under threat of force?  I was ordered to find the nearest 'Jobcentre Plus' and deliver the completed form there. It took me a while to find her long-disused National Insurance number, but I complied yesterday. For all my protests, I obey the law you see. Perhaps if I obeyed less, it would trouble me less?

None of this palaver served the needs of my family or me. If there was no state certification of death (or birth or marriage) banks, insurance companies and other bodies would accept my affidavit accompanied by a letter, perhaps, from my doctor. But the state, as the story makes clear, is the boss of us. It owns our time, our service and our money. It can - and does - compel us to deploy them as it pleases so that it can keep perfect records of its herd of taxpaying cattle.

Some of my friends and family think me extreme when I declare that I have no greater enemy than the British state. Perhaps they are right; but it certainly does not use me as a friend. Thank goodness then for those friends (some of them unexpected) who have used me far, far better in my grief. In my distress I have learned once again that humanity is mostly good. If I were at the mercies of the state alone, I would have a very different impression and would be a sad wretch indeed.

What kind of country?

Vincent Cooke's plea for family to flee before 'stabbing burglar Raymond Jacob 6 times' | Mail Online.

White trash Time will tell if justice will prevail for Vincent Cooke. I hope so. He resisted a forced entry to his home; protecting his family as best he could. We all hope we would have the courage thus to act if occasion (God forbid) arose. As a probably unintentional result of his bravery, there is one less villain for the decent people of England to provide for at the behest of Westminster's gangsters.

More shocking than Ray Jacob's banal evil is that his friends had the temerity to lay floral tributes at his victim's home. They have no shame, apparently, in being photographed doing so. Could the moral collapse of England be more complete?

h/t Nourishing Obscurity


Footnote: The Maserati GranSport (not a Granturismo) on the victim's drive might have cost £70,000 new, but it's not a current model and is now worth far less. How odd that the Mail concentrates so much on the apparent wealth of the victims, as if it somehow excuses a violent invasion of their home. Has socialism taken such root in Britain that right-wing newspapers now favour redistribution of wealth; even of the amateur variety?

Thank you

Top 40 Libertarian blogs | Total Politics.

Thank you very much to all of you who voted for me in the Total Politics Blog Awards 2011. Given how subdued my blogging has been in the past year, I am pleasantly surprised to have a place in the rankings at all - especially as I didn't bleg for votes. I shall study deserving.

I confess I arched an eyebrow slightly at a couple of the names. All are respectable, anti-totalitarian folk but surely one or two are plain, if not simple, Conservatives? That party has a dark history of libertarianism in opposition but authoritarianism in office.

I am delighted to see my friends Ms Raccoon and Mr Puddlecote so deservedly high in the league table. I am also happy to see the team at that generally worthy, if occasionally rather eccentric, new venture The Orphans of Liberty come straight into the charts. Congratulations to them and to the other 36 worthies.