The New Atheists have just changed God’s name

Tim Sandefur over at his blog has posted a total demolition of a Sam Harris blog post entitled “How rich is too rich?” It’s called “Sam Harris, anti-reason“, and here’s the link.

Sandefur brilliantly illustrates how Harris, like Hitchens, Dawkins, and other Neo-Atheists, who are nearly always Left-wing Liberals, have simply taken all the unspoken and mystical assumptions of religion, but replaced service to “God” with service to “others”; the “others” being, well, anyone but ourselves. Service to society, the public good, those “in need”, those without what we have. They have taken the self-sacrificial preachings of Christ and simply blotted out the nasty “god” parts. They have regurgitated the mysticism and ephemeral bilge of religion, all in the name of rationality, atheism, science, and all that good “free-thinking” stuff.

Even more worrying is the total economic ignorance Harris shows, so we shouldn’t wonder that his followers across the blogosphere, all the internet atheists, demonstrate this level of ineptitude and misunderstanding of economics. And not just economics, politics. And not just politics, but ethics.

As Sandefur himself points out, Harris and the Neo Atheists are superbly adept at pointing out all the logical fallacies and loopholes in the arguments of the religious, yet Harris can’t even define his own simple terms. He contradicts himself. His premises are unspoken, unjustified, or simply wrong.

It’s very rarely I criticise religion on my blog anymore. In fact, I haven’t written anything anti-religious in years. Why? Because I really don’t see the religious (with the exception of Islam and the fundamentalist Right-Wing American Christians) as the primary threat to my well-being. It’s the socialists, the collectivists, the Left, which the Neo-Atheist “rational” crowd flock to, which is a far greater problem. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say I don’t see the religious as more or less of a threat than the New Age Atheists, it’s that I lump them all together; I see them as just different types of the same problem.

Whatever your political persuasion, you should really read the article.

UK riots – my thoughts on who, what and why

As riots continued for a third night running in major cities across the UK, many have had their say on the animalistic slime causing massive devastation to property and lives. What should we do about it? What is an appropriate response and what is too far? Why do yobs do this sort of thing? I’ll give my thoughts.

First of all, it’s not really clear what these barely-human criminals are rioting about. There is no doubt in my mind that most of them are simply along for the ride, and enjoy the thrill and excitement of being in the mob, mindlessly ruining without consideration. Even if there was a legitimate purpose to riot, surely the cause is negated by the gross violation of the rights of innocent citizens whose lives and property are being wrecked? What cause could possibly be worth fighting for that is somehow not connected, or superior to, the legitimate rights of others?

So should the government call in the army? No. There is a reason why the army is not and should not be used to keep the law. The army defends the country from enemies of the state; the police protect the citizens and enforce the law. When the army is used against its own citizens, the enemies of the state become its own people. Government power should necessarily be heavily limited in this regard and we cannot throw away that principle when it seems expedient. So should police use lethal force against the rioters? Again, I would say no, not unless it is absolutely necessary. Whilst it is true that these rioters are degenerate insects who deserve no mercy, the law and the police derive their power from their citizens and cannot begin arbitrarily executing them when they get out of hand.

However, I should stress that the rioters have freely abandoned the rule of law and chosen to violate the Rights of their fellow citizens. The cause does not matter, if there even is one. Riot police should be deployed in full force and use water cannons, tasers, tear gas and rubber bullets. The rioters should be beaten into submission, even if it means hospitalising them. The message must be loud and clear: the government will protect the rights of individuals from any threat, foreign or domestic, and those who contravene this rule should be put down, hard. There should be no compromise with vicious thugs. Force should be met with force. Not for the purpose of hurting them, or teaching them a lesson, or quashing citizens under the boot of the government – no, for the purpose of protecting individual Rights.

One thing that also needs pointing out is the makeup of the mob: the majority are youths. The obvious question once again: where are the parents? Once again we are witnessing the result of mediocre and disinterested parenting, of a society where family and integrity is meaningless, where the mothering and fathering skills of adults have atrophied due to a government that insists on doing our thinking for us. How can you expect youths to respect the rights of others, when everywhere you look, the concept of Rights of individuals is watered down or ignored? How can you ask parents to do their jobs and regulate their children, when across the world we see parents asking the government to create yet another rule, regulation or law to restrict content on this, age limits on that, certificates on this, bans on that, censorship on this, criminalisation on that. Perhaps, just perhaps, if the government stayed out of our private affairs and parents had to actually do their job, they would raise their children in a more responsible and dignified manner? Which brings me to my next point: the parents of any youth found convicted in these riots should be forced to make reparations to the owners of damaged property. Your kids, your problem. They smashed, stoned, defaced and burned it? You will pay for it.

I’m not excusing the rioters at all, but I am hardly surprised by their actions. Our culture is warped and sick. In almost every article I write I talk about philosophy, and how it’s a vital part of everyday life, whether people realise it or not. But look at the “intellectuals” of today; look at the philosophy that pervades the world: we are told that reality isn’t real, that there are no moral truths, that there are no real whites and blacks, that morality is subjective and uncertain, that our senses are weak or useless, that the good is whatever the majority commands, that the purpose of life is to sacrifice it, that property is greed, that Rights are “selfish”, that intelligence is sad, that power is all that matters, that dedication and determination are a waste of time, that fame for fame’s sake and beauty for beauty’s sake and money for money’s sake is the lifestyle to pursue, that scientists and businessmen are fools and whores, but celebrities and sportsmen should be objects of idolatry and role-models to follow. This might not be the culture the intellectuals and the philosophers and the bureaucrats wanted, but it’s the one they deserved. This is the inevitable result of an evil and flawed worldview from Christianity to Socialism, from Islam to Communism, from Fascism to Humanism, from Libertarianism to Anarchism, from Hume to Kant, Christ to Mohammed, Nietzsche to Plato: the rejection of moral truths in this world; the denial of morality as useful to the individual in his everyday life. In essence it is this: the rejection of reason.

To those of who you say there is no such thing as morality, that truth is ambiguous, that reality isn’t real, that good and bad are just matters of opinion, that man is just an animal in shoes, that we carry original sin or instead are merely slightly-evolved apes, I say: this is the world you wanted. Well you have it. You wanted a world where reason didn’t matter, where good and bad were just opinions, where truth was both sides of the coin – well this is what happens in such a world. People blow each other up, they fly planes into buildings, they commit holy wars, they rob and pillage in the name of “welfare”, they set fire to buildings, destroy livelihoods, and they riot for the sheer thrill of rioting. Because they don’t know any better, because you told them there was no better, and if there was, there was no way to know it, and so it didn’t matter what they did, because nothing was right or wrong anyway and no one alive could ever know it.

To those who believe that truth and morality are subjective, I say I hope you’re happy with the results of your philosophy. These riots across the UK are just one symptom, but they aren’t the disease itself.

UK Government dictates ‘acceptable’ lifestyle to citizens

Story here.

Part of the government’s public health plan last year involves a ‘nudge theory’ which basically entails regulating acceptable practice and behaviour in the area of personal health and diet. This involves “physical activity, alcohol, health at work and food.” Committee chairman Baroness Neuberger said: “There are all manner of things that the government want us to do – lose weight, give up smoking, use the car less, give blood – but how can they get us to do them?”

Lindsey Davies, a professor and President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, another public sector organisation which UK citizens are forced to finance, said: “the public health profession has long argued that ‘nudging’ is but one aspect of a wide programme of interventions to help people make changes in their lives which promote good health and wellbeing.”

I wonder if the government would care as much for our health if it wasn’t paying for it, and doing so in such a shabby and fatal way? The answer, of course, is no. As opponents of the Left have pointed out time and again, when the government is supporting your life (either through benefits or healthcare) it will always feel justified in dictating to you how you should live it. After all, since the biggest claimers off government are those who contribute the least to it and land it in huge debt, government might think it’s only fair to start telling these people how much they can and can’t drink, smoke, run, eat etc.

The assumption openly accepted here, (and even by some posters on the article above) is that healthcare and lifestyle is a legitimate area of interest for the government. It is not. I’ll state this clearly: no one’s lifestyle choices or any part thereof, are a legitimate interest of government. The government should have absolutely nothing to do with your life or how you choose to live it. All it should do in your regard is punish criminals.

It is primarily because government supports the lives of so many citizens who are unwilling to work (those truly unable to work are a tiny minority), and thus has a vested interest in how we live our lives, that it feels the need – nay – right, to interfere in the private affairs of innocent citizens, by forcing them to label foods a particular way, banning certain foods from public use, heavily-taxing certain substances deemed unhealthy, offering incentives for healthy people and punishing non-compliers through fines or taxes. Just one example of this is the planned duty increase on high-strength alcohol. The reason? To encourage responsible drinking.

I am not making this up. This is real. This is actually happening now! This is happening in Britain in the year 2011. This is FASCISM. This is the government passing law after law, legislation after legislation, regulation after regulation, tax after tax – all under the guise of promoting one lifestyle over another. In essence, through the blatant use of force against which we have no power, the government has decided what the right and proper lifestyle is for its citizens. “This, this and this – is how you should live your life. This is what you should drink. This is what you should eat. Ok we might not be able to throw you in prison for it (yet), but we’ll just tax you more.” What’s the name for a higher financial levy demanded as a consequence for action? Fine. You are being fined by the government for choosing alcohol A over alcohol B; fast food X over fast food Y, tobacco 1 over no tobacco at all. This is happening right now – to you.

“But people who are unhealthy impose a greater cost on the taxpayer” – some object.

Firstly, don’t be so naive. If you truly believe the government has the best interests of individuals at heart, you live in a fantasy realm where politicians are our appointed protectors and guardians of liberty. Sadly, that is not the world we live in. We live in a world where politicians and their cronies gain power through votes and currying favour. A world where power itself is the objective of political parties, and our money is the means of acquiring it. Don’t ever take for granted that WE subsidise these creatures, whether we like it or not.

Secondly, if individuals were the object of concern for government, it would protect individual rights, and the most fundamental choice of all for a free person: how you choose to live your life.

Thirdly, it is true that unhealthy people impose a high cost on the taxpayer. But let’s break that sentence down: people who are reckless and careless with their own lives can make legally-enforced financial demands on those aren’t…and the problem with this is that these types simply don’t eat right?? Isn’t there a more heinous offence here, namely the sacrifice of the rational and productive to the lazy gluttonous slobs having their healthcare (and lives) paid for by…the rational and productive?! Is this justice? Is this fairness? No. But it is socialism. It is fascism.

What happened to your life being yours and my life being mine? Can I think for you? Can you act for me? What happened to being responsible for our actions? What happened to enjoying the rewards of healthy living and reaping the consequences of thoughtless bingeing? Were these just fairytales told to us as children, idealistic lies to keep us in check until we grew up and discovered that in the “real” world, we could eat, drink, smoke and abuse what we wanted because someone else would pay? To discover that if we ate right, drank in moderation (or not at all), and didn’t smoke or abuse drugs, that we would still be fined for the little eccentricities in life we enjoy (like, a pint of high-duty premium lager), and still have to pay for the wasters who chose poorly? To discover that if we couldn’t or (more likely) wouldn’t work, it didn’t matter – because there’d always be some sap out there, some loser, some “slave” to The Man in his silly office, “trapped” in the corporate system, having to do an 8-hour day, that would put food on our plate and keep the hospitals open whilst we watched TV in the armchair?

Or worse yet, discover that you needn’t burden yourself with silly things like principles and decisions. You have government: it will tell you what you can and can’t do and recommend what lifestyle you should pursue. Force will keep the dissenters in fear. Tax will keep the non-compliers in line. And all along, your government’s coffers grow – whilst the citizens’ savings shrink – and it will all be done in the name of public health.

Ayn Rand said “the difference between a welfare state and totalitarian state is a matter of time.” Every single fascist regime in history seeks to regulate the lifestyle of its citizens. It is the very definition of totalitarianism. The British government is fascist. Even if you can’t fight it (for now), you should not kid yourself of the nature of it.

Animal treatment and Rights

One story that made the news recently is that of two police dogs who died after being trapped in a car for six hours in the heat of the day. Link.

Across the internet, animal lovers everywhere have condemned the man and called on him to face heavy punishment. Some have even offered prayers and chain postings in memory of the two dead animals.

The topic of animal welfare has been raised and most arguments in support of stiffer punishment for animal mistreatment rest on the presumption that animals have rights. In this article I want to comment on cruelty to animals, whether animals do have rights and the implications of this, and why it matters. I’ll also tell you what I care about and why.

Cruelty and/or mistreatment

Cruelty is the needless and wanton infliction of suffering on a sentient creature. (Contrary to some popular misconception and aided by science fiction, sentient doesn’t necessarily mean intelligent, it means capable of experiencing sensations.) So by this definition, cruelty is always irrational. Being irrational is antithetical to human well-being (that of one oneself and others), and is therefore evil. Cruelty is therefore always evil.

There’s a line of thought that goes: a man who likes to hurt animals will also like to hurt people. I’m not a psychological expert but I wouldn’t disagree with this. I think a person who gets any kind of pleasure from cruelty has poor ethics at best and mental health problems at worst.

Mistreatment of animals is by no means as clear cut: what defines mistreatment? Certainly all handlers agree that animals should be trained and kept in line. Is hitting a dog mistreatment? How hard is acceptable? Leaving it out in the rain? Leaving it out at night? I don’t have the answers to this and I don’t think it’s important to scrutinise it in depth here. But what must be said is: an owner is responsible for their pet and how they treat it. If a pet hurts someone or damages property, the owner of the pet is made to pay compensation, rightly so. Buy why? Well it’s obvious but needs explicitly stating because some people out there (who don’t so much love animals as hate humans) will gloss over this vital truth: animals are not capable of rational action, which means they cannot make moral choices. Therefore, they are not morally responsible for their actions. A human owner is however.

Rights

If you disagree with what I’m about to say, the first thing you must do is offer your own definition of Rights and justify it. Remember that emotions don’t stand up in court, and the issue of Rights and legal action is precisely what we’re talking about.

The philosopher with the most (and only) rational and objective description and justification of Rights was Ayn Rand. Her attention to detail and philosophical genius don’t need restating here. She defined Rights as moral principles defining freedom of action. But why does a being need Rights? Simply put, to act freely. But what good is the freedom to act unless one is capable of freely choosing in the face of alternatives? None. Human beings must consider the choices available to them and make free moral decisions. Being a moral being, which we are, is meaningless though unless we are also free to act. After all, what good is the freedom to choose if we aren’t free to act? Prisoners aren’t free, like hostages aren’t, or mug victims. So our nature as free moral agents necessitates Rights. But then the obvious conclusion to this fact is that creatures which aren’t moral agents, which don’t have the ability to think rationally and choose in the face of alternatives, cannot have Rights. Remember: rights are not entitlements; they aren’t blessings or favours which are granted to certain people from others, from society, from the State, or from God. They are principles inherent in our nature. So by definition, animals cannot have Rights.

That doesn’t sound right to me

That is something I hear a lot. It’s something I had to come to grips with too. It does fly in the face of a lot of what we’re brought up to believe and get told. But there is a false assumption implicit in the deniers of the fact that animals don’t have Rights: they perhaps think “if animals don’t have Rights, it’s ok to abuse them”. But that is not the case! The false premise lurking here is that Rights are somehow based on the ability to feel pain. But as I’ll explain next, that doesn’t make sense:

As we saw above, Rights are moral principles to guarantee freedom of action for moral agents like humans. It is the Right to Life, which all of us have, that gives rise to all our other rights: the right to pursue happiness, the right to liberty, the right to not have force used against us. To say that a person has the Right to live but not have the right to not be killed for food, is an obvious contradiction which no one in their right mind would claim. We don’t kill people for food (culinary arguments aside), not because they have a “Right to not be eaten for food” but because they have a Right to life! The “Right to not be eaten for food” makes no sense! And who would claim that a person has the Right to avoid suffering, but not have the Right to live? If this were true, it would be legal to murder someone, but not torture them! Bear this in mind when we talk about animal rights: animals are killed for food by the millions every day. Some small sects aside (like vegans), even those who believe in animal rights still accept that it’s ok to eat them for food. But there is a massive contradiction here: if animals have the right to live, they should not be killed at all! I wouldn’t accuse well-meaning people of being hypocrites, as I think a lot of us do and have made this mistake in innocence, but I think a lot of people could do with stopping and checking their own premises. As a good writer said to me: “if you believe in animal rights but eat meat, stop right there – go away and rethink your position.”

“But surely animals have Rights to protect them from cruelty?” some say. That sounds fair, it sounds nice, but it is false. Rights aren’t based on the ability to suffer, but on the necessity for freedom which only a moral agent needs.

Why does it matter?

It matters because the real issue here isn’t whether animals have Rights or not, it’s what Rights actually are. The issue of individual Rights is possibly the most important issue in human history because all crimes committed by one person against another involve the violation of Rights, that’s why it’s important to be very particular about the concept. ‘But why is this about human rights and not animal rights?’, you might ask. It’s about human Rights because Rights are the principles that say to every one of us “you may act as freely as you want, but you must not violate the Rights of others.” Which means you and I are totally free to live our lives as we choose. Your Right to live doesn’t clash with my Right to live: as long as we don’t infringe on the Rights of others, there is no contradiction between our lives, or Rights, ever! In fact, when understood this way it is clear that Rights simply cannot conflict. To illustrate this, let’s say that you have the Right to your earnings after a day’s work. I come along and claim that I am hungry and need your money. I claim that I therefore have a Right to your earnings. Here we have a conflict, but it’s easily resolved. If you have the Right to life, you must have the freedom to pursue that life. One of the ways of doing this is through work and earning money – in other words: property. Your right to property is a result of your Right to life. So since the property is rightfully yours, it cannot be rightfully mine. Your right to life, and property, and earnings is the only claim that matters. I can therefore have no “right” to any of them.

Humans versus animals?

Now, because humans make moral choices, we can choose to not violate the Rights of others, and most of the time we do this quite well. I choose not to violate your Rights and you choose not to violate mine. But, animals can never make this kind of choice. An animal does what it does either by training or by instinct, but never after rational and moral consideration. If animals were to have Rights, they would necessarily clash with human Rights, since we would be forced to respect their rights but they could never respect ours. There would be no resolution to the contradiction: humans would necessarily have to surrender their Rights to unthinking amoral animals. Imagine the full implications of this: no meat for food – at all. No wood for homes or fuel if animals need the trees. No cultivating fields to grow vegetables in case it displaces or kills animals. A world where animals have Rights is a world where humans can’t.

So where does the Law come into this?

If we accept that the job of the Law is to protect Rights (and how could it be anything else?) then it becomes clear that only humans should be protected by the Law. One of the ways it does this is to arbitrate in legal matters. Consider how silly it would be if we put cats on trial for killing mice, lions on trial for killing gazelles, dogs on trial for mauling babies. Consider the travesty of proper justice if we appointed lawyers for gerbils or took testimony from rabbits. ‘You’re being silly now. No one goes that far!’ some might say. Yes, these are ridiculous examples, but I’m not the one saying that animals should be protected by the legal system. If we “gave” animals Rights, they would have all the benefits of a legal system they can’t comprehend, and none of the consequences.

So it’s ok to abuse animals?

No no no. But before we condemn the actions of genuinely evil people, let’s take a step back. What do we mean by “ok”? Do we mean “legally accountable” or “morally reprehensible”? Before you jump to answer, think about this because there is a difference. In days gone by, homosexuality was punishable by death. It still is in some parts of the world. Sex outside marriage and blasphemy were (and are) also considered criminal acts and worthy of capital punishment, based on some rather warped moral opinions. Am I equating cruelty to animals with being gay or blasphemous? Of course not. The point I’m making is that the law isn’t there to police morality, but to protect Rights. There are many people out there who’d love the chance to use the Law to police their version of morality on you. The last thing we want is a government that polices morality. We’ve seen it before, we’re seeing it now, and it never looks pretty.

So animals aren’t protected at all?

Actually, they are. There is a very important exception to how animals should be protected under law, and that is as the property of humans. If a person harms or kills a pet they should absolutely be punished.

Do I care about animals?

They say it’s bad form to answer a question with a question, but I’ll do both. I’d say “which animals?” Do I care about animals? Well, do you care about humans?

You see, I look at the millions of human beings, beings of our own kind, around the world dying from starvation or disease – I look at scientists, thinkers, creators, businessmen – exploited and robbed of their property – I look at the successful and innovative penalised for the crime of being successful and innovative – I look at how our governments keep infringing on human Rights, granting more and more power to the state and less and less freedom to individuals – I look at how fiat currency and government-caused inflation and recession has caused economic collapse and riots across the continent and how it might well come here soon – and I think there are more important issues than two dogs dying in a car.

I care about my animals. I can’t pretend to care about yours, and if you really care about some random animal you have no connection with, why not that one and not the millions which are butchered for food every day?

How do we fight animal cruelty?

The same way we fight any legal but morally wrong action: by social ostracism. We condemn the person and refuse to deal with them. We can encourage others to do the same. The person might lose their job, their reputation, their relationships, and most likely won’t be able to buy another pet from someone else.

What we shouldn’t do is think of the law as our personal exactor of vengeance. The fact that the Law must ruthlessly protect human rights makes it all the more important for it to only protect human rights – because no other Rights exist.

Priorities

I think it’s time for a wakeup call, people.  Fellow humans are having their Rights violated every day, in the simplest to the grossest of manners. This is the sort of thing we should be shining a spotlight on and spreading chain e-mails about. Our tempers should burn when we hear the plight of an innocent man robbed or doctors put on trial by despicable governments for trying to tell the truth, or yet another business being double-taxed and charged for being “too big”, or teenage girls being groomed for sexual abuse or drug dealers and their empires, pathetic little teenagers and their gangs spreading mayhem and violence around towns… These are crimes committed by humans against their own kind. The least we can do, out of respect for ourselves and our fellow beings and our respect for justice and individual rights, is to consider where our priorities lie and what we want to be campaigning for.

More taxpayers’ money pledged for foreign aid

David Cameron is offering up even more of our money on the altar of altruism: £814m to provide vaccinations for poor people in third world countries. Story.

Isn’t this a noble action? No. Let’s dispel this myth at the start. There is nothing neither noble nor honourable in pouring hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money into another country. Bill Gates says “The United Kingdom has also been very generous and its taxpayers should be thanked.” No we shouldn’t, because we didn’t have a choice whether to contribute or not. Charity at gunpoint is not charity. (This little truth is ignored by all socialists in their war for a “humanitarian” redistributionist utopia.)

I am most certainly not cold to the suffering of others, but I am not a hypocrite either. In the words of Ayn Rand: “Poverty is not a mortgage on the labor of others—misfortune is not a mortgage on achievement—failure is not a mortgage on success—suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence—man is not a sacrificial animal on anyone’s altar nor for anyone’s cause—life is not one huge hospital.”

With the economy on its last legs here and around the world, with recession and an ever-rising cost of living, with schools and hospitals being closed, overcrowded prisons, the NHS millions in debt, why is our government, our sacred protector, our servant, being so generous with our money? Now, this isn’t to say I support the NHS or state schools (as I reject all socialised institutions), but if taxpayer money is to be spent on futile altruistic causes, those causes should at least be domestic for one very important unassailable reason: the government serves the people of its country, NO ONE else. Redistribution of property is bad enough, as it necessarily means the sacrifice of the capable, intelligent and productive, but when taxpayers’ wealth is distributed outside the country it is an act of treason by the government against its very clients. The proper role of government is to protect Rights, not to act as international good-will emissary or charity function, or to play philanthropist with the very property of the people it should be safeguarding.

Shadow international development secretary Harriet Harman said it was “unacceptable” that millions of children in the developing world die from illnesses which could be prevented by vaccinations which are taken for granted in the UK.” I think it’s unacceptable that tens of thousands of deaths occur every year in the UK because cancer and blood clots aren’t spotted early enough by the NHS. But more on that shortly.

Pouring millions into third-world poverty is like trying to fill a colander. The point that our governments and all the altruists don’t realise, or choose to ignore, is this: why are some countries better off than others in the first place? If most diseases are easily preventable in the UK, it’s not because we are raping and pillaging poor countries. Our cures don’t come from the blood and souls of the poor. Diabolical pharmaceutical companies are not rounding up third-world children and making drugs out of their bones. So why then in the Western world is our standard of living so much better? Industrialisation, brought about by capitalism. Capitalism, though perverted, diluted, bastardised and corrupted by our governments, has a superb track record of improving quality and lowering prices. Any free or semi-free market proves this. Or in the words of Joseph Schumpeter: “It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabric, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as a rule improvements that would mean much to the rich man. Queen Elisabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort.” (Bold mine).

The cure for poverty is not charity, and charity cannot by definition be given by taxpayers. What the third world needs is capitalism. The third world will be forever dependent on the developed world until it starts to produce for itself. That isn’t going to happen overnight and it won’t be easy. But it shouldn’t come through our sacrifices either. Consider that Bill Gates himself has donated more than the British government. Is it any surprise that GAVI is encountering a massive shortfall as fiat currency and inflation destroy the true wealth and savings of private citizens? (This is the source of charity.)

Harriet Harman continued: “The private sector must also play its part by supplying vaccines at the lowest possible prices.” Well, before one starts making demands on the private sector, one might want to consider where the bulk of tax actually comes from, and who discovers vaccines in the first place and the plethora of regulations and red-tape they are forced to endure. If government really wants to encourage private companies to be more generous with their vaccines, they might want to stop eating into the latter’s profit margin and investment capital. Why doesn’t the government be more generous with business tax and regulation?

“But don’t you care about millions of children dying in poor countries?” It is hard to give a straight answer to this question without being pilloried or misconstrued. Do I care? Yes and no. I would love to see poverty eliminated on earth entirely, just as I want to see crime and disease eliminated. I think a child dying of an easily-preventable disease is a tragic but logical consequence of their surroundings. I don’t feel guilty about it and I don’t believe I owe anything to those worse off. I don’t believe that the poor have earned goodwill simply by being poor, but I do approve of helping others when they are honest and well-intentioned people, and if their lives are conducive (however indirectly) to one’s values.  (For example, if third-world terrorists are starving, I couldn’t care less.)

But I also I accept that poverty, just like crime and disease, isn’t something that can be wiped out by fascist governments (no matter how well-intentioned their motives). The solution will require slow and strenuous effort to drag a country from poverty to wealth, and it will be the inventors, the businessmen, the capitalists, doing the dragging, as it always is. But it is not fair on the people of another country to be looted, even if it means that many lives are saved in the short-term. Charity must begin at home. Finally, we must totally reject the notion that governments make aid happen. If all government aid stopped in a week, the free wealthy people of this world would continue to help the poor, inasmuch as it is practical and worthwhile for them to do so.

Online gaming debate plus stupidity equals fascism

 Just when I think that nothing can further lower my opinion of certain campaign groups, something like this comes along and demonstrates just how clueless some people really are; the same people who are otherwise clever enough to form an activist group, lobby support, publicise their ideals and call on the government to initiate even more force against innocent citizens who, it is felt, have violated the campaigners’ righteous standards for decency.

To summarise: in Vietnam a 15 year old boy who’s addicted to online gaming lured a 7 year old girl to the woods, where he beat her to death with a rock and robbed her to fund his “addiction”.

The most obvious question that no one seems to be asking is: where are the little psychopath’s parents? Another good question is: how many hundreds of millions of people around the world also play online and don’t feel the need to murder? Furthermore: what kind of a warped and psychotic mind treats murder as casually as shoplifting, and who seriously thinks such an individual would not end up acting violently sooner or later anyway?

The idea of violent games producing violent behaviour is a bogus argument in the first place in that it begs the question. That is: do violent games produce violent behaviour, or do violent people enjoy those sorts of games? And why do the enormous majority of gamers act responsibly and peacefully regardless of game content?

Elizabeth Woolley lost her son to suicide, apparently because of his addiction to online games. She says “Until governments around the world recognise it’s a problem, it’s just going to keep getting worse and worse in terms of murders and crimes caused by excessive and obsessive online game play”. With all due respect to Elizabeth’s loss, I assert that she is talking total and utter tripe. Speaking as someone who, by any standards, was addicted to an MMO for two and a half years, if you choose to kill yourself over an online game (for whatever reason) you have far worse problems than mere addiction. You are either an idiot, or have deep emotional issues and probably psychosis. Why is no one mentioning this nasty fact? Why is no one talking about mental health problems? Why is no one asking where the parents are as their children live online and then kill themselves or others?

A human being that consciously chooses to end their own life has either reached such depths of despair or hopelessness that there is no way out, or is suffering terrible depression or emotional devastation, or perhaps chronic agony, or loneliness. It is not a decision that one reaches lightly. Now consider the mental state of the person who decides to kill themselves over a computer game…and then tell me “it’s all the game’s fault.” Blaming a computer game for suicide is stupid. Yes, some mentally ill people have blamed their behaviour on songs, TV shows, movies and games – that’s why we call them mentally ill. Surprise!…emotionally disturbed and psychotic people do weird things!

To correct Miss Woolley’s statement above, I’d alter one word. Just one: ‘Until [parents] around the world recognise it’s a problem, it’s just going to keep getting worse and worse in terms of murders and crimes caused by excessive and obsessive online game play.’

She continues: “It’s exactly like drugs or alcohol – once people get addicted, they feel they have to have it. There are always certain people who will get addicted to a drug, and in gaming we estimate it’s about 20% to 30% of people.” Well you see, it’s NOT exactly like drugs or alcohol at all. In those cases there is a physical dependency which cannot just be broken. In the case of some drugs, immediate cessations can even cause death. Online gaming addiction is purely psychological, if that. Adults are responsible for taking care of their own physical and mental health. Parents are responsible for taking care of their child’s physical and mental health. If your child kills himself or goes off and murders another child and you think it’s because of an online game, instead of asking Big Brother to step in and pass more fascist laws, maybe you should be asking yourself what YOU could have done better. Did you know how much time your son played online? Do you know what he was playing? How did he get the game in the first place? Who was paying for it? Did you investigate the content? Did you set limits on his time? Did you make him do chores and other activities? Were you always there for him? Did you make him feel secure and loved at home so that he wouldn’t want to escape into a fantasy world?

No, let’s not bother with personal responsibility. It’s 2011, let’s get with the times. This is how we do things nowadays: ‘Dear Government, could you pass a law dictating to game creators and the 99.9999% of their customers who CHOOSE to make and purchase certain types of games for their own private recreation, what they can and can’t produce and enjoy?’

The worrying thing is not just that this is yet another call for fascism, made blindly and stupidly by those who might otherwise have good intentions, but the sheer idiocy of the position and the total denial of parental responsibility which, if it was better, could arguably prevent a lot of social and criminal problems in the first place. This is the worrying thing; not the ever-increasing slide towards fascism around the world, but the millions of idiots who brainlessly offer up their freedom and their minds to such a cause. And in doing so, offer everyone else’s up too.

Portugal next to require bailout, highlights simple truths

I was going to review the BBC’s explanation for the cause of the problem in Portugal and analyse it in technical terms, but I decided instead to point out a few “big picture” general truths that the economic crisis nicely highlights.

So, following Ireland and Greece, Portugal is the next euro-based economy to require a bailout. Despite reassurances from Spain’s finance minister that “’of course’ Portugal would be the last eurozone country that needed a debt bail-out”, I think we could be forgiven for taking anything any politician says these days with a mountain of salt. (I couldn’t help but notice the irony that one of the agencies that will be attempting to rescue Portugal is the International Monetary Fund. This is amusing, if you have an eye for acronyms and 60s TV.)

EU Commissioner Ollie Rehn says that there would have to be an “ambitious privatisation programme” to reduce debt. This raises the question of why, since everyone pretty much concedes that private production is the only source of real wealth, the private sector needs any more encouragement to produce and generate tangible assets? Of course, the answer is that the private sector doesn’t need any incentive to operate, it simply requires freedom. Freedom from regulation, restriction, and extortionate taxation. (I oppose taxation on principle, but I am not naive enough to think it can be repealed overnight or entirely in the current political climate.) It is government, with enough controls and rules and regulations to make an obsessive-compulsive look chilled out on cannabis, which stifles and hampers the real source of wealth: the private sector.

As the current global economic meltdown continues, I can’t help but reiterate one of Ayn Rand’s gems regarding wealth and finance which she phrased in the form of a question. I will paraphrase: ‘if the problem is that there isn’t enough money, why doesn’t the government just print more?’ Understanding why it simply doesn’t work this way is to understand what the problem is in the first place, and how we got to this stage. Money, (coins or paper), in a proper economy, represents produced but unconsumed goods. It can represent any goods, but those goods must exist. When you print paper money, without producing any actual goods to back it up, you devalue the existing currency and you devalue savings. This is the source of inflation.

Now, as if that wasn’t bad enough, tax is aimed at private citizens and corporations, with the more productive carrying the heaviest tax-burden of all. (Liberals will recite the party line about “the rich should pay more” but there is no good argument for this, and there never has been. It is simply penalising the more productive and successful because they are productive and successful).  The money to pay tax is taken from the savings of citizens and the investment capital of corporations. In other words, when times get tough we all tighten our belts; we cut down on the eccentricities and make sure we have just enough to get by. Similarly, corporations make staff redundancies, shut down factories, and donate less capital to research, investment and innovation. So, the private market stagnates, or shrinks, which means fewer jobs, less production, and, as a direct corollary, less actual wealth. Actual wealth is the only thing that keeps an inflated economy above water. Notice the sick irony: in an attempt to solve a problem it created, government raises taxes and bleeds dry the very lifeblood needed to keep a country alive.

This is why the economies of the world are falling apart: mixed, planned, or in plain old terms socialist schemes are ruining the market, just as they have done throughout history. And yet, time and time, our intellectuals and politicians, despite paying lip-service to capitalism, even recognising that only the private sector can save us, refuse to give up their bloated powerful positions and public sector schemes. Socialism is so obviously impractical and destructive, but it is also the means by which politicians amass enormous wealth and power. That is why they will cling to the socialist ship even as it sinks around them.

One final thing I wanted to share is this article: when the government is forced to make public sector cuts, it starts with non-essential personal, which raises the question “if they are nonessential personnel, why are the taxpayers funding their employment to begin with?” It’s so wonderfully eloquent, and it’d be hilarious if pointing out the failed historic evils of Soviet Russia from our higher ground. It’s not so funny when the joke’s on us. At the moment, the “joke” is on Portugal. Spain might very well be next. But I really don’t believe the worst is over.

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