Daily Archives: 1 December, 2012

Informers and Benefit Fraud

Informers and Benefit Fraud:
A Libertarian View
By Sean Gabb
February 2010

I have just been sent one of the most disgusting newspaper articles I have seen this year. It is from today’s issue of The Guardian, and describes how the British Government is considering a scheme to reward those who inform on benefit cheats. Astonishingly, the Ministers seem to think this will make people more inclined to vote Labour at the next general election. If they are right, I am not sure how much longer I want to live in this parody of a country.

But, now I have said enough about the proposed scheme, let me explain what I find so disgusting about it.

The first is that, while every respectable person has a duty to report crimes against life and property, and to bear witness if required, there is much difference between this and calling into being an army of paid spies and police informers. Such people are not needed to report genuine crimes. Their general use is to act as the eyes and ears of an oppressive state. Established for one purpose, their use inevitably spreads to other areas. There is a natural temptation for paid informers to become agents of provocation. There is an equally natural temptation for them to become blackmailers. The resulting culture is one in which friends drop their voices when discussing anything in public that might be overheard to their disadvantage – and where new acquaintances, and even old friends, are Continue reading

Fact and Fiction: The Trouble with Historical Novels

Fact and Fiction: The Trouble with Historical Novels
by Richard Blake

If you describe anything as “the worst thing that can happen,” it probably isn’t. Whatever you care to imagine, there’s usually something worse. But one of the worst things that can happen to an historical novelist is to have someone creep up to you with a smirk on his face, and tell you that some fact in your latest masterpiece is bad history. For me, it’s certainly worse than just being told the novel is useless. I’ve always been sheltered from general criticism behind an impenetrable wall of vanity. I’m a genius. Anyone who says otherwise can only be intellectually or morally defective. Tell me, though, I’ve got my facts wrong, and I may run screaming from the room. Continue reading

Despite Best Efforts of Anti-Smoking Groups, Electronic Cigarettes are Here to Stay

by Dr Michael Siegel

The Food and Drug Administration along with at least seven national anti-smoking groups made a valiant effort to remove electronic cigarettes from the market. In 2009, the FDA exerted what it purported was its jurisdiction over electronic cigarettes under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and effectively banned these products. At the same time, seven national anti-smoking groups promoted the removal of electronic cigarettes from the market. These seven groups, along with the amount of money they received from Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline between 2009 and 2012, are as follows: Continue reading