Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Left-Right Dichotomy: Other Choices Exist

As ridiculous as it may seem, there are more political options to choose from than right-wing corporatism/racism and left-liberal gloopy class war rhetoric. That we're not discussing them is the problem; people simply aren't aware that other ideologies exist. Can we talk about this, please?

In the red orange corner

I'm annoyed about the current trend towards the Basic Income, an ill-conceived pig's ear of a policy that's unsustainable but popular because it seems fair. It's ridiculous in principle; people being given money they haven't earned because they're there, and this is to replace existing social welfare benefits.

I've been over this, damn it: they would giveth and taketh away, and people like me would be worse off because the idle, NON-TAXPAYING rich would receive the Basic Income, too. We're struggling to provide for the poor as it is, I don't remember food banks being a thing until recently. It simply doesn't make sense to give people money they don't need just because they exist (they're getting it already, it's called tax breaks), then hope that the rich will pay for it by increasing taxes on them. Let me tell you what will happen: the moment the powers that be realise they aren't getting sufficient moolah into the HMRC via higher taxes to pay for this debacle because tax is levied on income, not extant funds or expenses, they'll raise taxes on yours truly so the Trust Fund babes can buy Bolly, or something. I'm having none of it.

This is a left-liberal idea; a true Socialist would never agree to mocking workers like me by devaluing work itself and they'd certainly not provide money for the idle rich. Mind you, Socialism has largely gone out of fashion for being a) pretentious and b) ineffectual. Putting jargon-spouting jobsworths into positions that enable tinpot dictatorships reminiscent of the time the parts of the body argued over who was going to be the leader, and the bum won because it stopped working until everyone else gave in, was never going to be a successful strategy in the long run. That's what happens when an ideology prone to authoritarianism is treated as a rule, not a guideline.

While I'm not a fan of Socialism I prefer their forthright honesty to the woolly-mindedness of the Liberals. You know where you are with them.

In the blue corner

I'm annoyed about the current trend on the right to dismiss corporatism as a threat to democracy, life, and limb. I'm glad to see the Independent, which tends towards supporting Establishment positions, taking on TTIP. Given that there's pretty much been a media blackout of reporting on dodgy FTAs, I'm pleased to see the British press finally waking from its slumber on the issue. We've needed this for a while, but it's better late than never. Even the Telegraph has got in on the act, thundering against private equity companies that buy up going concerns, load them with debt, let them collapse, pay themselves huge bonuses, then run away laughing like a brat who's put a firework through an elderly lady's letterbox.

When the right gets all dewy-eyed and dreams of Nirvana, they claim a place there can be attained via the skilled application of oneself to to a strict work ethic. Asset stripping? Speculative invoicing? Ambulance chasing? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Their particular delusion rests on the notion of "the free market," except that there's no such thing. This doesn't stop them making policies based on it, of course. This is why we're in a demand-constrained economy; the market hasn't self-corrected and it's not going to. Less government is not the droid you're looking for answer.

What people don't seem to be talking about is how bank charges simply for having a bank account have become a thing lately. I reckon it's because people's money isn't staying in their accounts; it leaves the minute it arrives to pay rent, bills, etc. Saving gives the bank the funds it needs to lend to individuals and groups; remember, the recession began with a credit crunch - banks not lending to each other, which resulted in a liquidity crisis, so this is how banks keep the funds circulating. Am I right?

The point is, the Government isn't doing much about the problems being caused by bankers or their shady practices because they believe they should be free to do what they want.

In the black and white shirt...

I don't believe in any particular ideology per se; Middle-out appeals to me mostly because it'd put more money in my back pocket without messing with other peoples' incomes. I would merely be getting a bigger share of the profits I produce for the company I work for. It rewards work itself, would increase tax revenues by raising people's incomes, would get people off of benefits by providing them with enough to live on, and would create the demand required to boost the economy because more of us would be spending.

I'm not naive enough to believe that consumer spending alone would suffice to to this but if the government at local and national level had more revenues they could spend it on infrastructure and social housing, etc. This, combined with consumer spending, would create sustainable growth far in excess of that fueled by unconditional welfare handouts for all, which is what Basic Income is.

The left-right dichotomy needs to be put to bed. People who carry on the lefty traditions are complaining of trouble at t'mill, fighting two hundred year old battles with the people who exacerbated famine conditions in India and my native Ireland with their heartless laissez-faire policies. Look, we don't really have classes any more and the old system broke down years ago. There is no such thing as a free market and people will always abuse power, whatever the apologists have to say about it. Taxation isn't theft, withholding taxes is. Property ownership isn't theft, applying property rights to "all the things" is.

Alternative philosophies: The Twofold Principle

We need to let go of the left-right dichotomy and spend more time exploring alternative philosophies. Don't say "liberal," eyerolling and face-palming hurts if you do it too often. A truly Pirate philosophy recognises that the individual must be free to act and that the will of the people must be respected. Policies based on this foundation can't fail if they keep the needs of the many and the one in balance. The trouble with liberalism, socialism and right-wing conservatism is that they tend towards authoritarianism.

Socialism refers to the people as "the masses," and characterises them as an ignorant mob, victims of their circumstances who need to be rescued by government intervention (control and regulation). Right-wing conservatism tends to favour the most privileged individuals and refuses to infringe upon their perceived rights on the grounds that this is unwarranted interference. Liberalism renames individuals and groups, creating protected entities that can do no wrong and goes out of its way to avoid offending anyone's sensibilities, real or imagined. It's the imagined ones that cause all the problems, e.g. flag bans, etc. 

The Twofold Principle funnels thought away from controlling others because the notion of personal and social freedom is baked into it. If the individual must be free to act, we need to leave them to get on with it, whether we like it or not. If the will of the people must be respected, we need to let them tell us what to do, not the other way around. Who says we're right about everything?

Where philosophies fail

None of the more common philosophies (Socialism, Liberalism, or right-wing Conservatism) include the Twofold principle, they elevate individuals and groups at the expense of others and blame failures in implementation when something goes wrong because they're unwilling to identify structural problems in their ideological paradigms. Mummy do it for you, dear:

Any philosophy based on a best case scenario in which everyone behaves as expected is utterly doomed to failure because people often behave badly.

That's why they fail. Middle-out demands increased wages and caps on CEO pay because rewarding work and giving employees a share of the wealth they generate is much more fair than attempting to level the playing field by increasing taxes on the rich, realising that it's not bringing in enough to pay for that misguided Basic Income nonsense, and raising taxes on the rest of us so some Hooray Henry can have some extra pocket money. As a strategy for redistributing wealth, it can only redistribute it upwards, impoverishing the rest of us in the process.

The only reason we're discussing Basic Income at all is because we're stuck in the past with the devil we know, afraid to explore the world beyond the ideological garden fence. We think that redistributing wealth via increased taxation, then sharing the proceeds out equally among the people would make the world a fairer, more equal place. It wouldn't, and even though I've proven this many times many people are so utterly besotted with the idea, they're unwilling to let go of it because they don't like calculators any more than they like living in the real world.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not interested in creating a more equal society as such. I just want to reward work, not give money to the idle rich in an economic ritual that smacks of Old Testament pagan idol-worship. They'll only make it rain in strip clubs, believe me. Increased tax revenues from better paid workers would fund a more robust welfare state which would cost less to run because fewer of us would need it. I'd like to see more discussion on developing Middle-out policies because we need to keep our feet on the ground and our heads out of the clouds. Who's with me?

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