THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Even more nachas
"Let Unsound Money Wither Away"

They work for you? Ha!

Simon Clark - Taking Liberties - How stupid is Plain Packs Protect?.

I have never smoked (apart from the occasional celebratory cigar). However I do not understand the current campaign to denormalise (or is it demonise?) those who enjoy a legal, if dangerous, pleasure. Lots of pleasures are dangerous. I never know why smokers choose bungee-jumping or mountaineering as examples when they want to make this point. Going for a walk is dangerous. So is sex. Most accidents happen at home, so we should probably all go out for a drive. Except that driving's dangerous too. Essentially life itself is dangerous and ultimately 100% fatal.

The plain packs project is a particularly dumb example of the campaign's tactics. For once even the police, who are normally enthusiastic about any initiative that brings them closer to the role of their Saudi Arabian colleagues the mutaween, are pointing out the assistance it will give to forgers and smugglers.

More sinister however is the insight it gives into how our modern "democracy" works. The campaign to resist a damaging new law is understandably led by the trade associations for the shop owners and the manufacturers of the products concerned. This is sneered at as interference in the democratic process, though it's a weird democracy where people are not permitted to speak up in their own interests as long as they are open about their funding so that a suitable discount can be applied to their views.

The campaign for the law, however, is paid for by the taxpayers - including those whose commercial interests are to be damaged, those whose freedoms are to be curtailed and those of us who simply don't want our tax money wasted on lobbying for more laws! And the Minister concerned has been so indiscreet in expressing his own views during a public consultation as to which he claims to have an open mind that the campaign group we are being forced at not-entirely-metaphorical gunpoint to fund is boasting of his support.

As Lenin said, the only question is Who? Whom? I am pretty sure I am among the Whoms here. And so are you. And the Who in this case is not a rock band, but a bunch of self-interested statists whose contempt for us is total.


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Would banking be included in your definition of trade?

P.S. Is there some shortcut to commenting here? I seem to have to supply name and email address every time.


I do not argue for no government but for no government interference in trade. Absent such interference ministers will not be worth a CEOs time, unless he wants to sell them equipment for the three legitimate roles of government; defence, policing and the courts.


Until I looked into it, I accepted the conventional view of the effects of Prohibition. Seems it's not quite right:

I apologise for the lack of links in that post - for some reason my browser was having an argument with Blogger (or vice versa) at that time and I was unable to copy and paste them.


"And you overlook that they could not be captured if they were not there."

Even the original Tom Paine did not argue for no government at all.

"Wealth should (and absent state interference does) gravitate towards those best able to make it grow."

Hasn't it just!


And you overlook that they could not be captured if they were not there. As for addiction to goods and services, I don't buy it. It's a euphemism for weakness and/or stupidity. That a fool and his money are soon parted is not a bug but a feature. Wealth should (and absent state interference does) gravitate towards those best able to make it grow.


You write "commercial exploitation" like it was a bad thing. Prejudiced against "trade" are we? Prohibition was bad for public health as many innocents died from bad booze and gangsters. Organised crime was born in that era and lives now largely on the drug trade - modern prohibition. If you want more gangsters, more political dynasties like the Kennedy family and more tyranny, there's nothing to beat the prohibition of pleasures enjoyed by millions.

And as tomsmith says, no-one can force you to buy a commercial product. There's no comparison with the monopoly of force enjoyed by government. None at all. It's as daft as the supposed cold war moral equivalence of the USA and the USSR. If you want to hear that nonsense advocated, talk to a Marxist academic. If you want to hear the truth, speak to a former citizen of the Soviet Bloc.

The effects you address are caused by big government. Corrupt CEOs can't warp markets without state assistance - or at least not for long enough to be dangerous.


You overlook how commercial interests capture government and regulators.

You also omit to consider how providers of certain products are exploiting addictive tendencies in people (now, mental - gaming etc - as well as substance-based) but this is an issue libertarians seem unable to face.

Try not to dismiss alternative views as nonsense.


"I appreciate the spirit in which you write, but lovers of liberty need to oppose vested commercial interests as well as the power of the State. Big CEO is as bad as Big Brother"

This is nonesense. No matter how big they get, commercial interests are only able to sell you things. They are not able to make you do what you do not want to do against your will as government does


I appreciate the spirit in which you write, but lovers of liberty need to oppose vested commercial interests as well as the power of the State. Big CEO is as bad as Big Brother (in fact they work together quite a lot). For example, what I read in the interwebs tells me that Prohibition was actually largely popular and in terms of health and law'n'order a success, but was ended when government wanted a new source of revenue as a result of the Depression, and commercial brewers and unions backed the move. Prohibition law did not forbid you to make and consume alcolhol; it only stopped its commercial exploitation. Are libertarians being beautifully played here?

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