Author Archives: djwebb2010

Free the Marine!


by D.J. Webb

After reading unpleasant news today, I have to say the first thing I would do if I were in power is to release the Marine framed for a “crime” in Afghanistan and sentenced to life imprisonment today . I have clarified repeatedly that libertarianism has nothing to do with the idea there should be no nations and no borders. There need to be borders so we can defend our nation and its culture. Freedom can only be realised as part of a free society, not a ragbag of individuals, and so that society needs to be defended. There are going to be foreign opponents of the UK that our soldiers confront in battle – it is irrelevant for my purposes that the stated objective of bringing democracy, sweetness and light to Afghanistan was unachievable from the outset and had no connection to our national interests.

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Challenging the “Conservative” mindset


By D. J. Webb

I haven’t had much time to write on politics recently, for which I apologise to readers of the LA blog.

I want to address a problem today that I see frequently. You can call it the Daily Mail mentality, or big-C conservatism, or the smug middle class. This mentality is even exhibited in some of the pro-free market think-tanks that rail against the fecklessness of the benefits scroungers and the young in general, hoping that, by cracking down on benefits, a tax cut for the well heeled can thereby be afforded. This sort of thing can often pass for libertarianism.

Let me use the example of my mother to illustrate the problem. She condemns her grandchildren for not getting jobs and running up payday loans. Apparently, the young people today don’t want to get on the hard way, by working for your living. They want it all now, handed to them on a plate, without having to work for it. I think many readers of this blog will recognise the theme, which appears to be a regurgitation of some of the worst articles on the Daily Mail website. Warming to her topic, she has been known to wax lyrical on the social obligation to pay the council tax. Is she a budding libertarian? Continue reading

Celebrity Rape?


by D.J. Webb

We have seen a spate of accusations of sexual assault, and even rape, against people in the public eye. It seems clear that celebrities are often surrounded by groupies, people who expect to be subject to some kind of sexual contact, and it also seems clear that, even where such contact is unwelcome, accusations made many years after the fact contravene any possible concept of justice. There is no way to prove any of any individual historical accusations. Instead what we have is a “weight of evidence” approach, where accusations from 100 people claiming to have been groped in the 1970s are considered to more or less prove the case, although none of the individual claims can be proved or disproved. This removes the burden of proof from one of “beyond all reasonable doubt” to the one of the “balance of probabilities” accepted in civil cases. In many cases, the balance of probabilities is that some kind of repellent behaviour did go on, but that does not mean that our criminal justice system should find people guilty of serious crimes on the basis of such “evidence”. Continue reading

Rent controls or landlord subsidies?


by D.J. Webb

Steve Davies constantly intervenes in public debate to argue for what he sees as free markets. However, in the absence of wider economic reforms, some of his arguments may end up, however inadvertently, supporting skewed markets, markets skewed by government intervention, rather than genuinely free markets. As Education Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), he may represent the views of the IEA more broadly, and the IEA is an organisation with a reputation for libertarianism. But it is important that libertarians argue for a wholesale restructuring of the economy, to remove existing distortions, and not simply oppose further intervention while retaining existing distortions, because otherwise we may unintentionally end up supporting government intervention that currently works to deliver unearned gains to the well-heeled. Continue reading

Abuse of Power


by D.J. Webb

The way social power is used is very important in English thought. We have always admired measured used of power and the giving of opportunities to the weak to put their point of view in open judicial and other processes. For example, the judicial review provision of the courts aims to prevent the government from implementing imperious and poorly considered decisions. The government must give evidence of having considered various interests properly before coming to its decisions. While I cannot accept the way judicial review has morphed into judicial striking down of decisions that are properly executive, I do see the reasoning behind the development of judicial review. Continue reading

Libertarians and the Banks


by D.J. Webb

We were told today by the Office for Budget Responsibility that rising longevity will mean another blow-out in the public finances by 2062. Health, pension and social care spending will all rise rapidly.

I am not trying to play devil’s advocate in the Libertarian Alliance here, but to flag up a necessary discussion. All libertarian analyses so far have tended to just affirm that privatising everything will solve this problem. True, if health, retirement provision and social care provision are all privatised, and presumably income tax and national insurance abolished, it would remove the implications for the **public** finances of demographic ageing.

But the implications are still there for the economy as a whole. The difference is that, after privatisation, it becomes a private financial problem. However these matters are handled – this is the key point – spending in these areas will have to rise as a proportion of GDP. Even if that spending is purely privately undertaken, it will still need to rise as an overall percentage of UK GDP. Continue reading

Debt in a Free Economy


(by D. J. Webb)

Debt and debt collection are rising up the political agenda, and I think the issue is of central importance to understanding the British economy today. The banks have gained a centrality in life that they did not always have. It used to be possible to get paid in cash and handle most of your affairs in cash. Nowadays, financial products dominate the whole of the rest of the economy, and the burden of debt on UK consumers plays a large role in limiting any takeoff in private consumption spending that could produce a sustainable recovery. It is as if we only exist to service the banks. Continue reading