Idle thoughts of an idle fellow 1

Following Mark Wadsworth”s recent poll (, I”d like to ask (and I”m ducking already) what are the serious issues for libertarians in this country? The top one seemed to be smoking in pubs; lower down (but not much lower) it was legalising cannabis.

To the former (and as a former smoker) I”d say that the old system of snugs used to work well, you could work up a good fug if you wanted to; but I don”t think it”s fair to demand the right to inflict the noisome, acrid stink of cigarettes on those who don”t like it. So okay, I”ll grant you that one with provisos.

As to legalising certain drugs, it seems to me that those who make most noise about it also make no bones about the fact that they go ahead anyway, law or not. I suspect that in some cases, especially Old Etonians, it”s just an argument for continuing online casino bad habits from school: when I visited a friend in Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1969, he told me that the OEs tended to stick together in a little clique and were known for their cocaine parties.

We are free to move about in, and even leave, the country; we can change occupation, sexual partner (and orientation), religion, political allegiance; we can express our opinions in public fora. We are permitted to own private property; our criminal legal system assumes our innocence and has elaborate rules of evidence to protect against summary justice.

Is this another instance of those who complain most having least to complain about?

9 comments for “Idle thoughts of an idle fellow 1

  1. May 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Ta for link.

    “Is this another instance of those who complain most having least to complain about?”

    Possibly yes, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, and all that, but so what? If there are things we could be doing better, then why not do them better? Or else, the government could say “Right, the speed limit on motorways is now 30 mph – and look on the bright side, at least you aren’t in Iran or North Korea!”

  2. May 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Diversity of opinion.

  3. May 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    I think the main issue for libertarians is trends. There are perfectly obvious and undesirable social and political trends going on under our collective noses, yet we all have the ability to adapt to them rather than resolve them. It’s what we do.

    It seems to me that libertarians want to resolve these issues rather than merely adapt to them. It’s an admirable aim, but not an easy one.

  4. May 18, 2011 at 5:43 am

    I’d say it was the rise in identity politics and the legislation associated with it – hate crime laws, etc.

  5. PPS
    May 19, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Our criminal legal system is being slowly replaced with a civil one.

    • May 19, 2011 at 6:06 am

      That’s interesting. Could you expand that?

      • May 19, 2011 at 7:37 am

        Yes, I’d like to see that.

      • PPS
        May 19, 2011 at 9:38 am

        An easy example is the recent addition of powers to the police to issue you with penalty points for reckless driving.

      • PPS
        May 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm

        Another example is from accountingweb:

        “…..a taxpayer client had agreed with HM Revenue & Customs that he had failed to notify a tax liability and pay a relatively small amount of tax of around £3,500 for one tax year. His actions were found to have constituted “cheating the public revenue by failing to submit accounts for tax…with the intent to defraud” – a criminal act which meant he was then liable to settle around £700,000 calculated under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 as the extent of his unsupported assets deemed to have arisen from criminal activities. The case came to public prominence through the Court of Appeal, Steed v R [2011] EWCA Crim 75”

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