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David Whitehouse

By Sara Scarlett
July 25th, 2013 at 12:17 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Civil Liberties, Nannying

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 12.12.04

I’ve been waiting a while to get this image back out. Isn’t it beautiful?

Anyway, Dave’s top anti-porn adviser, Claire Perry, has made one silly mistake after another and is now being sued by Guido. But why does David Cameron think he can restrict access to/censor/ban any type of porn in the first place? Even Saudi Arabia and China can’t manage that. What about explicit written material? That’s a lot harder to censor.

Restrictions on the internet are worthless and we have to accept that we live in a world where it can’t be done making policy in light of that fact rather than in denial of it.  But then deep down we all know it’s not about porn or ‘protecting the children’. It’s about thought crime. Well, I’m sorry Mr. Cameron but not everyone thinks like you and just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.


Libertarians Suck At Marketing

By Sara Scarlett
May 31st, 2013 at 12:37 pm | 6 Comments | Posted in Civil Liberties, Economics

Honestly, I’m beginning to think it’s even worse than I originally thought.

It’s almost become a cliche that when you say you want a Libertarian state people turn around, laugh in your face and say ‘Move to Somalia!’ So much so that Libertarians have started to make memes mocking this phenomenon. And even though there were roads, railways, health care, education and infrastructure hundreds of years before any government in the world spent over 12% of GDP (1914), people act like were it not for our lords and masters we would all digress into illiterate cavemen and then die from lack of health care the minute government is removed.

The thing is this: Libertarianism is wonderful. Look at Hong Kong, look at Estonia and look at the UAE. Even though none of them are perfect, and the UAE is socially conservative and not secular, since the 1950s and the 1980s respectively they have all clawed their way out of poverty and today their residents enjoy a higher level of prosperity than ever before. Even though Hong Kong is probably the closest thing to Libertarian state, I still have to deal with morons coming up to me and throwing Somalia in my face. A strong, low-tax state is obviously not the same as a failed state.

Imperfect libertarian leaning states look like Hong Kong. Imperfect socialist states look like Venezuela. We don’t even have to hit the target of complete purity and people still get pulled out of poverty.  How else could an idea as bad as socialism be so popular even though it’s consequences are a litany of woe and misery? They are just better at marketing their ideas. Libertarians need to acknowledge this and take some responsibility for it. Socialist ideas are emotional, not rational and human beings are emotional creatures rather than rational ones. The powers of the market are strong and on our side, but unfortunately so is public choice creep. We are at a disadvantage and we need to up our game.

The Problem with All Marriage…

By Sara Scarlett
May 27th, 2013 at 8:13 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Civil Liberties

I wrote ‘The Problem with Gay Marriage” because I had questions that I felt need to be answered and, luckily for me, Barry Stocker has attempted to answer them. Barry makes some great points and I do appreciate that ‘free love’ is not everyone’s cup of tea, but…

Perhaps Barry is also right that it probably shouldn’t be the top legislative issue for any government. However, it is relevant to the relationship between the State and consenting adults.  The United Kingdom is incredibly homogenous. Not as homogenous as places like Scandinavia but a great deal more homogeneous than the United States. There is still stigma attached to completely valid romantic relationships simply because they fall outside the norm. Adding ‘monogamous homosexual’ to the list of approved relationships is all very well but what I’m saying is this – let’s rip up that f*cking list. ‘Cause frankly, I’m sick of it. Also, it is absolutely necessary to liberty and equality that there should be no such list. I think it is an absurd anachronism that we validate some adult relationships in this way and not others.

Barry says -

The manner in which ‘marriage equality’ has been established in Britain is flawed. It is not complete equality since divorce for gays cannot be on the grounds of adultery, apparently because of lack of agreement on how to define the relevant sexual acts. Gays can have civil unions and straights cannot. Sorting these issues out is secondary though compared with the issue of whether the state should provide marriages.

But those issues are precisely why the State should not be providing marriages. There is no way I can think of that the State can provide any official sanction flexible enough to encompass all these relationships. This is, in essence, the problem. Our brightest policy boffins can’t even agree on defining the relevant sexual acts. So why do some relationships get State sanctification and others don’t? Why must sexual relationships be defined and by whose authority? What about loving adult relationships that are romantic but not sexual? It is absurdity to even begin. It’s not so much that the State should not – it’s also that the State can’t.

Does this make state provision of marriage unnecessary and even harmful? I have to say no, at least for the foreseeable future. No great harm comes to any couple, because other couples have a state licensed marriage.

Marriage may be popular but the growth of polyamory is in some ways a reaction to the disappointment so many have felt with the monogamous ideal. Enforcing the notion that a monogamous relationship is the only form of relationship the State/Society deems acceptable increases the pressure to conform and the alienation of those whom neither have the ability nor the will to conform to this ideal. Saying to homosexuals, “We’ll tolerate you only if you live exactly like us,” doesn’t sound like such a big victory to me.

Polyamory, or what used to be known as ‘free love’, has been tried at least since utopian communities of the nineteenth century,  has never taken long term, and appears likely to mostly lead to patriarchal dominant males accumulating partners. There appears to be a very strong human inclination towards at least trying to have a long term unique relationship, often with attempts at strict monogamy. Of course such relationships often end, and covert polyamory often creeps in where they do last.

I don’t know what Barry’s evidence is for stating ‘polyamory… has never taken long term,’ since it has consistently existed despite huge official efforts to stamp it out. Societies that profess to valuing monogamy have often officially taken this stance but the patriarchal dominant males have been free to pursue unofficial ‘covert polyamory’ whilst the women have had less opportunity to do so. I will agree that human beings appear to be inclined to monogamy, there appears to be more evidence to suggest that human beings are inclined to a loose monogamy rather than a strict monogamy as is suggested by Barry’s last sentence.

I believe we should discuss contracts suitable for polyamory, as well as those couples who do not find the standard marriage contract satisfactory, but unless polyamory greatly increases in popularity and marriage greatly declines in popularity, I very much doubt that the cause of liberty would be served by attempts to abolish state marriage or put polyamorous relationships on an equal legal basis.

Like I said, there is no way I can think of that the State can provide any official sanction flexible enough to encompass all these relationships. That is the nature of the State. Unyielding, unresponsive and one-size fits all.

The Problem with Gay Marriage

By Sara Scarlett
May 26th, 2013 at 3:00 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Civil Liberties

I’ve spent the past few days since the Gay Marriage vote having mixed feelings about the result. Whilst I welcome greater equality and acceptance for homosexuals, I believe that government has no business sanctioning or prohibiting the relationships of consenting adults – homosexual or otherwise.

There is also a bigger question: are we moving towards a greater tolerance of diverse relationships and lifestyles – or is society mostly only happy to tolerate gay couples if they behave just like straight monogamous couples? We still haven’t shaken off the cloying vestiges of Victorian Morality.

We are slowly seeing more calls to tolerate individuals who choose to be part of polyamourous relationships but few discussions as to what role government should play, if any. I can’t help feeling that we missed an opportunity to re-examine the role of government in the relationships between consenting adults and this leads me to question whether we are really moving forward in a progressive fashion.

It’s also important to remember that progress looks like indifference – not toleration. If you see a gay couple and you think, “Oh, there’s a gay couple. I am happy to tolerate them,” that’s not progress. We will know we have achieved progress when more and more who see a gay couple don’t have any type of thoughts whatsoever.

The Worst of It

By Sara Scarlett
May 8th, 2013 at 8:10 am | 2 Comments | Posted in Civil Liberties, Economics

I was recently asked to list my three least favourite government policies. As you can imagine, this was a tall order… But I’ve managed to narrow it down.

1. War

Governments kill in times of war but it’s never clear that they have reached their aims from an IR perspective. Apart from the the death and destruction there’s the awkward legislation that follows in times of war. Wars are expensive, your taxes rise to pay for them and they don’t come down once the war is over. Your civil liberties get eaten up and you never get them back. There is still legislation in this country which was made in World War One and is not getting repealed anytime soon. There are both selfish and selfless reasons to opposed war. The killing of innocent men, women and children and the fact that 10 years after Iraq they are still groping our b*llocks at the airport – nobody wins.

2. Agricultural Policy

I suppose we should be grateful that we have agricultural markets at all since we have food and people in North Korea don’t. But distortions in the agricultural markets in the form of trade tariffs, subsidies and regulation (although I do appreciate that this is slightly simplifying things) are the reason some people on this planet still don’t have food despite the fact we have the capacity to produce more than enough for everyone.The food system isn’t free/fair and, sadly, the many meaningful efforts to make it more fair (e.g. Fairtrade) simply amount to more distortions.

Further more agriculture is one of the biggest polluters. Were the markets not so stilted I’ve no doubt that people in cities would be eating a greater variety of fresher produce grown in carbon neutral, pollution-free, super-efficient vertical farms by now. More importantly those who previously had no seat at the table would be able to eat at last.

3. School Policy

School choice, or lack thereof, is one of my biggest pet peeves. Not only that but schools in England are oversubscribed and over subscription is a problem you can solve very easily. Privatise all schools. Give parents vouchers so they can send their children to the school of their choosing. Government vouchers give poor people what rich people have – choice. New schools rise to meet demand and all schools compete for higher quality and better value for your voucher. You would slowly see greater plurality and innovation in the education sector.

So there you have it. What I consider to be the worst of it!