Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Regulation hurts

Go and read the post at Counting Cats on nannying and regulation. Now. Go on. It's that good.

I'm not just recommending this because he makes the point that every tiny regulation hurts business somehow, somewhere and needs to be looked at critically - and cynically - to decide whether it is necessary. I'm recommending it because he explains how it is part of the steady process of taking control over our lives and deciding for us what we will do, and how we will do it.

To summarise,

“When they came for the Huntsmen, I did not stand up, because I am not a Huntsman. When they came for the Smokers, I did not stand up, because I am not a Smoker. When they came for the Drinkers, I did not stand up, because I am not a Drinker. When they came for me, there was no one to stand up for me”.

Hat tip - LfaT


  1. I particularly liked the last bit. But I wonder why you have left out religious people. Secularism used to be the attractive idea that everyone could contribute in the public arena regardless of their religious beliefs. Now secularism has become the idea that no one may contribute in the public arena unless their views are consonant with a certain kind of secularist orthodoxy. Accordingly, religious people can now only contribute in the public sphere insofar as they make their views conform to secular orthodoxy.

    This isn’t just the anti-democratic slogan “We don’t do God,” it has affected all sorts of areas. A religious man was suspended from work for talking about his faith despite the fact that the person who objected had asked him about it. Catholic adoption agencies are closed, convents have to demonstrate their usefulness to society on secular terms in order to keep their charitable status (while abortion clinics keep their charitable status without question), and our schools are attacked (sometimes the charges that arise from the Government turn out to be false – but not until after the damage has been done). A Christian street preacher was silenced by the police because his remarks were offensive to homosexuals (despite the fact that he hadn’t mentioned homosexuality – he’d taped his preaching because he knew how the present law works against free speech), children have been removed from long standing Christian foster parents because the parents will not subscribe the view that homosexual relationships are equal to marriage. Churches are told that they will be forced to employ youth workers whose life-style and beliefs plainly contradict the faith those youth workers are supposed to uphold. Our opinions on embryo research are dismissed out of hand because it is assumed (wrongly) that they presuppose a doctrine of the soul (one of those forbidden categories in anti-democratic secular Britain).

    It is not for nothing that this Government is routinely described in the Catholic press as the most anti-Catholic in living memory. At least there is one good thing about it – Catholics (and probably many others) who as a group have traditionally voted Labour won’t do so in the future.

    What I don’t get is why more non-religious libertarians don’t protest against this denial of liberty. You don’t have to agree with these beliefs in order to recognise the importance of people’s freedom to express them.

    But perhaps that answers my own question. The reason you have left religious people out is because there are now so many groups who are interfered with by this Government that you couldn't fit them all into Pastor Niemöller's poem. Libertarians have so many other battles to fight.

  2. A good point, Albert.

    But I did include it ... "When they came for me, there was no one to stand up for me"


  3. Good one - I take it back, and I didn't mean to imply you aren't religious.

  4. The Counting Cats post is great, thanks for linking to it. I despair at the "puritanical" mindset which overlaps with the "nosey busybody" mindset. Why does anyone care how I live if I don't impose on anyone else?

  5. "When they came for the Huntsmen, I did not stand up, because I am not a Huntsman. . . ."

    It's not quite that simple.

    The problem is that so often it is "When they came for the Huntsmen, I did not stand up because I didn't want to be associated with the killing of foxes. When they came for the smokers, I was pretty relieved, because I hate the smell of the cigarette smoke. When I came for the drinkers, I hoped it would do something about youngsters getting drunk."

    The problem is that so often we only start getting concerned about freedom when we feel the noose tightening around our own necks - until then, we think a bit of regulation is just what we need.

  6. Part of the problem is a colossal solipsistic vanity that assumes that because I believe something is wrong, no one may be permitted to do it. We need to able to grasp a clearer understanding of what it is for something to be right or wrong and of which behaviours are right or wrong in order to break this solipsism. But that will at the expense of the vanity of the legislators and so isn't likely to appear any time soon.

  7. YMB - quite right, but it is yet more complex. I could have added "When they came for the terrorists, I did not stand up because I abhor terrorism. When I left my bin out too early, I discovered I was a terrorist..."

    Sadly, the labels were manipulated one way in order to get many laws onto the statute book, then artfully flexed the other way when deciding how to enforce them. This was, quite simply, deception.

  8. Too true, Mr. P.

    to get many laws onto the statute book

    And once they are there, how difficult it is to get them off of it.

    p.s. I know this is off topic, and that you are too modest to have a thread on the subject, but congratulations on your new, and richly deserved, badge.

  9. (thanks Mr B ... am actually too gobsmacked to write a post on that subject!)