I'm on hiatus for the first fourth of 2014; regular posting resumes in the Spring. Life once more got in the way; I started college and moved across Washington this year, so I've been in a bit of a vortex--perhaps "maelstrom" would be a better word. Once I get into the swing of things (and without classes which require vast essays to preoccupy the writing part of my brain), I should be able to devote more time to this blog.
Thank you for your patience and once again, Happy New Year!
--Alex Adrian, 12/31/'13-1/1/'14
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
- The precept that government is all well and good in its place--out of the bedrooms, gun-lockers, and (especially) board-rooms, and preferably guarding the frontiers or building a road or a canal or something. Government interference is kept to a minimum, on the theory that ordinary decent law-abiding people will by and large do the right thing without some God-damn government bureaucrat somewhere telling them what to do. As a result, the government’s regulatory powers are in theory limited and in practice non-existent.
- The government’s powers in general are limited; the only things it can do are protect the interests of the people (enforcing laws, of which there aren’t many, and settling disputes over property--and a lot of things are classed as property), maintain the country’s frontiers (raise a standing army and/or militia), and pay for those portions of infrastructure that private citizens can’t subsidize out-of-pocket (roads, canals, and the like--and the roads are for the most part funded by tolls).
- Given the lack of governmental support services, welfare is privatised, as is most of the other services a government provides in liberal democracies--schools, broadcasting, etc. The market is the final arbiter in all areas of life.
- Taxes are low, limited to a single flat tax wherein everyone pays five percent of their income, no matter what they earn, and possibly also a national sales tax. The government is forbidden from collecting property, income, or any other kind of tax, besides those mentioned above.
- In fact, the government is limited in what it can own--no more than, altogether, ten percent of Country A’s total surface area and whatever supplies and arms the army and national police force (assuming one exists) require. (Alternately, all land is privately owned; the national and local governments lease whatever space they require. Even by libertarian standards, though, that’s weird.)
- Thanks to the aforementioned low taxes and massive privatisation, the country is a business heaven. Corporations flock there.
- The economy is entirely planned, top-down. The state--through the Ministry of Economic Production--runs everything. Rationing is the primary method of conveying goods to the populace. You don’t like it, go to Country A or Country C, counter-revolutionary traitor scum!
- The state owns. Absolutely. Everything. All industry is nationalised; all property is publicly owned, save for sundries such as toiletries, a suit of clothes or two, whatever food you’ve been allotted, and maybe a bicycle.
- In addition, privacy, while not illegal as such, is looked upon with suspicion, as is a liking for solitude. After all, if you spend too much time alone, out in the countryside whilst not on a community hike, you could be plotting with the imperialist capitalists in Country A, Country C, or (gasp, whispering) Country D!
- There is only one party, making elections somewhat pointless. They carry them out regardless.
- As I said, there’s a strong--or at least decent--governmental safety-net, like that which exists in most of Europe, Canada, and Australia. Welfare, the dole, universal health care, the works.
- There exists a progressive tax structure: a national graduated income tax (inverse-pyramid wherein the rich pay more than the poor) value-added tax (no idea why), property tax, and perhaps a national sales tax for starters, though who’d be in favour of both VAT and a sales tax is beyond me.
- Note that “for starters”; government is fully capable of levying more taxes as it sees fit, unlike the Land of Everyone Pays Five Percent and Only Five Percent, Now and For Ever, Amen.
- Like Country A, Country C is capitalist and has a market economy; however, the government has broadly defined regulatory duties and powers (no horsemeat-contaminated beef here, no sir!) and some industries, though not all, are nationalised (tantamount to treason in Country A)--the post office, coal mining, rail transport, etc.
- Government has all the duties it has in Europe and America: it runs most of the schools, the postal service, some of the broadcasters, the military, the roads, the police and corrections, the utilities...
- All power is centralised in the office of one all-powerful Leader. (Hail, Leader!) This Leader can declare war, order citizens arrested, unilaterally appoint judges and ministers (and dis-appoint them), and dissolve and call Parliament. (The Leader’s such a great guy!)
- While there is indeed a Parliament, it’s essentially pointless, existing only to approve the Leader’s every command and directive and generally burnish his ego and further his cult of personality.
- There is only one legal Party, that of the Leader. (Hail, Leader!) This makes elections even more pointless than Parliament.
- The State (in the form of the Leader) is the paramount power; serving the State--preferably in a manner that involves a heroic death in one of the wars that the Leader (Hail, Leader!) is always fighting--the ultimate glory.
- Government employment carries with it some perks, namely sweet threads. Every civil servant and soldier, from the Leader (Hail, Leader!) down to the lowliest clerk, wears some class of uniform.
- The military is the most powerful force, political or otherwise, in Country D. The Leader (Hail, Leader!) is the commander-in-chief of the military, and holds the ranks of Leader (Hail, Leader!) and Supreme Marshall. All able-bodied adult men must serve for at least five years in the military; if they do not, they’re labelled traitors to the state and sent to the salt mines or somewhere equally unpleasant.
- Country B will have a thriving black and grey market to supply those things that the Ministry of Economic Production will be unable to supply, for there will be shortages of small things: Stockings, razor blades, bootlaces, deodorant, bread, that kind of thing.
- Country A will most likely have massive economic inequality, with a few very, very rich people at the top controlling everything, the masses struggling to survive on a few dollars a day, and a very small middle class constantly getting screwed over.
- Country D will be nearly bankrupt, gouging its citizens to pay for the wars the Leader (Hail, Leader!) is constantly waging and to upgrade its hardware to the newest, shiniest models. In addition, some percentage of the populace will have become radicalised and at least plotting against the Leader (Hail, Lead-Oh, forget it), if not in outright rebellion.
- I have no idea what will be going on in Country C.
--Alex Adrian, 4/6/13
 I’m not counting the rich into this discussion; they get enough help and attention already.
 Hey, wait a second; if the GOP ignored their science teachers in high school, maybe that’s why they don’t seem to believe in evolution...
 Yes, you probably could do this experiment over a few months or weeks with several thousand college students, but where’s the fun in that?
 Haven’t a clue as to what I wanted to write here.
 Does anyone else think that it’s a bad idea to privatise the prison system? What you’re doing essentially is creating a market and demand for prisoners.
 Let’s not argue over whether the Soviet Union under Stalin was fascist or not, shall we? It’s a decent debate, but I don’t want blood on the carpet; bloodstains are very hard to get out. Hail, Lead--Oh, you know the drill.
 Basically, at least forty percent of the adult male population.
 Or, if we’re going to be Roman and shit about it, Dux; perhaps Duce, like Mussolini. Point is, Leader needs a fancy title. Oh, yes, there will be salt mines. Y’ever hear of a totalitarian dictatorship where they didn’t have salt mines? Note: Find location with salt mines.
 Country A doesn’t have any real analogue, although it may, if the R’s have their way. Country B is based on any number of Communist countries; I’m thinking specifically of the Soviet Union. Country C is a moderate social democracy, probably closest to modern Germany. Country D is of course fascist, so probably looks a lot like Nazi Germany.
 Of course, there’ll be shortages. One of the problems of a command economy; it’s impossible to know what demand will be beforehand, so you guess. Generally, you low-ball it...
 You say this wouldn’t happen? That the free market, left to its own devices, will always make all people equally prosperous? Look around at America today; look at the inequality out there. Look at what thirty-odd years of free markets, absolutely unregulated, have brought, friend.