This comment on a post at the ASI Blog (another rant about the BBC) is yet another example of detachment from reality:-
Just been going through my RSS feeds this morning and one of the
stories from the BBC was a review for a game called 'Prince of Persia'.
The graphics caught my eye (I've never played the game and am very
unlikely to), and so I read a paragraph or two.
Then it hit me - what on earth is the BBC reviewing a computer game
for? Surely that's something that computer gaming magazines do? Suppose
the BBC puts just one computer gaming magazine out of business (or,
what's more likely, sales for all of them are diminished by some
margin), then surely that's an abuse of their position?
In my opinion, this is some of the worst behaviour of the BBC -
encroaching on wealth producing businesses using public money as a
I'm not sure in what world the writer lives but it certainly isn't mine. By what bizarre logic is a broadcasting organisation debarred from reviewing an entertainment product? By this logic the BBC shouldn't broadcast films because that would put Blockbuster out of business. But then of course at the ASI it is impossible for the BBC to do anything right - even putting out programme making to the private sector which in another bizarre twist of logic is not a reduction on jobs.
Most of the proposed ("2,500") staff reductions are not real, and
amount to ... outsourcing their jobs to cheaper private-sector providers.
Britain records about 1000 homicides each year. Nevertheless, the doorstep murder in London of City financier John Monckton has shocked the nation because of its particular arbitrariness - and the feeling that not just drug dealers, but any of us could become a victim.
I think this is code for 'this time it wasn't some anonymous victim living in Salford that I can safely ignore'.
The very fact that this and this appear on the Adam Smith Institute blog is enough to make me suspicious, but superficially the idea does have its attractions. The publication from the ASI, plunges straight into the Laffer curve. I don't have time to google this but I know that its very existence seems to be hotly disputed.
As far as a flat tax goes I seem to recall a similar idea expressed by Jo Grimond in his autobiography. It has certainly been around for a long time.
I would go so far as to claim that socialism goes completely against human nature, or physis (to use the Greek term). Humans are social animals, it's true, but we are social mammals, which means we have fluid, highly intricate hierarchies. Social insects, on the other hand, have precisely what socialists want: a flat hierarchy, with everyone as worker bees, and one (usually them) as the queen bee.
What is socialist about this? Isn't this the sort of structure that is the current fashion with Management Consultants - or have I missed a trend somewhere? Anyway - I thought the ASI line was that socialism was inherently bureaucratic and overly hierarchical? So who made the mistake of letting this guy comment?
It's strange isn't it though, how all these rabid anti-socialists can define socialism as it suits them, but tend to get a bit snarky if it happens the other way?
To a degree they have a point, since libertarianism probably isn't a consistent ideology, more a view of the world - or more particularly of the role of authority and power in the world. There certainly seem to be as many views and versions of it as there were Trotskyist splinter groups on the left in the 1960s!. Against that the views expressed at Samizdata for instance seem to hold pretty close to a consistent line - although the pamphlets of the Libertarian Alliance show a much greater variety of opinion. ( The latest one comes from Kevin Carson whose site (Mutualist.org) to which I have already linked.
In a rather curious post on Hayek, Dr Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute seems to be interpreting Hayek as saying that while human nature and history leads to an "urge to share everything when value could not be stored", we progressed as a species by repudiating that urge. I have tried as hard as possible to look at this from the principle of charity, but I am still left with the conclusion that Hayek - and by extension therefore Pirie - is arguing that we are predisposed as a species to sharing but we can only grow by repudiating that heritage and cultivating selfishness.
The ASI in predictable rant mode raised some reasonable questions about tax rates and the returns to the Treasury. However they don't address one question whcih has always intrigued me.
Why is is necessary to give more money to the already rich to encourage them to carry on working and so they don't avoid (and dodge) tax work while those on benefits supposedly need to have their money cut to achieve the same thing?
I know there is an argument too about keeping what you have earned but the argument I've set out is often made - although never in the same breath so far as I've seen.
Just for fun I'm trying a track back with this post - who knows what might happen?
I couldn't resist this which suggests I'm not the only one who finds the ASI rather wanting.
"According to himself, Dr Pirie is one of the cleverest men in the world, with a senior position in MENSA to prove it; and he has never been known to doubt the truth or wisdom of anything he has said. I, on the other hand, have always rather doubted his wisdom and the connection between many of his statements and the truth. On this occasion, the doubts are so plain, they nearly express themselves.
What "free market" is Dr Pirie talking about? What had the Major Government to do with this "free market"? It signed the Maastricht Treaty. It deluged the country in a mass of regulations, making it a criminal offence to sell apples of less than a certain diameter, or to sell any of them if prewrapped by the pound. It increased taxes but still managed to double the national debt in five years - an achievement unique in time of peace. It made a virtual crime of using cash in amounts larger than £3,000, and turned every bank official in the country into a police spy. And that is Dr Pirie's "free market"?"
Read the rest - all good stuff.
Incidently - the source of this article is soemthing called Free Life Commentary which, while I by no means agree with everything - or even anything - is still a good read - it does everyrhing I thought the ASI blog was going to do when it was launched (but failed) - it makes you think.
...and that is definitely it for the next two weeks!