Tuesday, October 25, 2005

To be or not to be authoritarian?

The egregious Neil replies to my post with, amongst other things, a list of policies; if, he asks, he is a NuLabour apparachick, which of the following policies which he supports, are NuLabour policies?
Which of these policies are New Labour?
  • Proportional Representation for Westminster.

  • Incentive Voting.

  • A Citizen's income.
    Legalisation of all drugs.
    Congestion Charging.
    Complete Ban on workplace smoking.
    [Yes, under Scottish NuLabour anyway. With the bizarre consequence that I won't be allowed to smoke in my own flat because I work from home—DK]
    Ban on alcohol advertising.
    Amnesty for all illegal workers in UK.
    Automatic place at Oxbridge for brightest pupil at each secondary school.
    Triple council tax for second home owners.
    Re-emphasis on restorative penalties not prison sentences.
    Widen council tax bands to make it less regressive.
    Free local bus travel for local council tax payers.

I've argued for all these on my blog and more. I don't think anyone can justify calling me authoritarian if they read my blog posts.

Now, I'd like you to take a look at that list of policies and see if they sit well with Neil's claim to be a libertarian; do they involve more state involvement in the market or less, more micromanagement by the state or less? Socialist, yes: libertarian, no. (For an excellent analysis of why state involvement in just about anything leads to stupidity and, often, tragedy, I thoroughly recommend this book very highly. Also, you could just look at the root causes of, for instance, famine over the last 20 years. Start with Somalia.)
On the bloggers point, I wasn't going to ignore the orthodoxy of the bloggers being against ID cards. I acknowledge a lot of concerns raised by bloggers, I share them as well, but they are not actually relevant to the ID card debate. ID cards do not increase the govts access to personal information.

Yes, they do; facial biometrics and fingerprints are personal information that the government do not currently have access to (unless you are arrested, in which case they've probably got your DNA too).Besides, many bloggers are arguing about the principle of government intrusion into our lives: who the fuck are the government to tell me who I am? Government officials are our servants, not our masters: why the hell should I have to prove my identity to them?
As for your criticisms on being able to view who had accessed data, I clearly state (even in the quote you have used) that Terrorism/benefit fraud investigations would be exempt for obvious reasons.

But Neil, that means that you are going to have to store everybody's details, because they might turn out to be a suspected terrorist at a later date. The government may pledge (ha!) not to use the data that they collect but, if it is going to be effective in tracking, and reverse tracking, terrorists, then they will have to register all the information, otherwise it is just not going to be any use.
The NIR number can be on the card, but doesn't have to be on the NIR (or vice versa), it can be stored elsewhere.

Neil, my company builds database software, so do believe that I know something about this. A number that matches between the NIR and the card, or at least a clear, non-password protected path, will have to be in the system somewhere; otherwise you wouldn't be able to check that the people showing you the card are who they say they are. This seems to incredibly obvious to me that I simply can't believe that you would try to argue it.

In any case, ID Cards and the NIR are certainly not the policies of a libertarian; they are the policies of an authoritarian. I don't care how many times you take the political compass (which, incidentally, put me closest to that lying, socialist shit, Robin Cook. You could argue about the others, but I'm certainly no socialist) there is nothing libertarian about any of the policies that Neil supports. But then, he is, by his own admission, delusional.

Also, here's a nicely argued piece by Longrider.

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