Friday, 30 November 2012

What is Freedom?

I think this week is a good time to review the current threats to freedom, as its being attacked from a number of directions.

The big story of the week is the publication of the Leveson report and its insistence on an "independent" body to regulate the press. The famous faces, the great and the good, the victims of press "hacking" (for want of a better description) are happily braying away insisting on full implementation of the report's recommendations. Emotions are running high and are being directed towards press regulation.

Those in favour of Leveson say that the "independent" body is necessary and will be independent, so thats ok. The government won't control it, so what's the problem?

The problem is that it will be MPs (Parliament, AKA The Government) who will have the power to appoint the head of the body and by doing so, they will set the agenda. That is state regulation. Never before have so-called independent bodies with Government appointees actually been truely independent. The body suggested by Leveson whatever it gets named, will be no different.

Even more importantly for internet users is the fact that Government never misses an opportunity to widen the remit of legislation, so its entirely plausible that powers to regulate social media would be incorporated into the powers of any body created, as well as visual media such as television. After all the elite always conflate social media with publishing and from publishing its not a big jump to media; any media, like radio and TV.

Would you like the freedom to buy alcohol at whatever price you and your local stockist agree on? Well, this is another freedom under threat, with the announcement this week of minimum alcohol pricing. Yet another freedom under threat: the freedom for companies to set the price at which they sell their goods and the freedom of customers to choose at what price they buy goods.

The common thread with those is the suggestion that entire groups of people (drinkers and journalists) should be subject to increased Government legislation and reduced freedom because of the acts of a infinitesimally small proportion of those groups (News of the World Journalists and Binge Drinkers). But of course lets stir up the emotion and demonise them all to push through some overbearing legislation.

Would you like the freedom to buy energy at as cheap a price as you can? The Government have plans to stop that, by adding yet more tarriffs to our energy bills to subsidise supposed green energy projects.

Would you like the freedom to continue to live your life unhindered whatever political party you support? It seems in Rotherham that's not the case. As in Marxist countries, you need to support THE party in order to live an unhindered life. To support any other condemns you to pariah status. And you just know that behind closed doors, many in government think the same way.

We've already lost countless freedoms, but these assaults, all in the space of a week show the quickening pace of which erosion of freedom is happening.

The chipping away of freedom has now changed into a flood. Its done in plain sight thanks to previous unhindered acts: the freedom to smoke indoors in public denied, the freedom to freely associate denied, the freedom to have a jury trial denied,  denied, denied, denied, the freedoms fall as so many dominoes.

The thread underpinning them all is Lazy Legislation. Lets regulate the whole press because its too difficult to write legislation to attack the small proportion of miscreants. The same for alcohol: lets artificially inflate the price and affect all drinkers, rather than legislate to attack the binge drinkers and drunken trouble-makers. We already have laws to deal with them on an individual basis, but I guess it must be too difficult or too expensive to do that, or the government isn't collectively intelligent enough to use existing laws, or draft targeted new ones, so they go for ill-conceived blanket legislation.

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