Tuesday, 17 November 2015
The principle behind it all, freedom
I was asked recently what’s the ultimate basis behind my work, and the simple reply was freedom. It is something we can all relate to, humans and animals, and when it is removed or restricted it is either for a reason of safety or personal development, and if not then punishment.
So as removal of freedom is one of the most universal punishments known to man, along with assault and causing death, its existence is held to be the ultimate situation in life, next to life itself when compared with the death sentence. Knowing this, then why do governments throughout history do all they can to reduce and restrict our freedoms, using the Hegelian dialectic, that the alternative is worse. The alternative that rarely even exists but they knew they could create as the means to get the majority who sadly do not think for themselves to hand over their freedom. To quote Benjamin Franklin, those who give their freedom for security deserve neither.
I do find many people are so lost in this vision that I found I needed to list examples of the difference between imposed restrictions ‘in the name of work, health and safety’ and their removal. By applying everyday and ordinary examples then I hope everyone can relate to their own life situations and realise there simply aren’t many times any such restrictions are appropriate or beneficial.
Work and driving are my personal favourites. Driving is the ultimate freedom until humans learn to fly (literally or mechanically). It allows everyone, including the elderly and disabled, to have the opportunity to travel wherever and whenever they need or want with absolutely no need for other people to rely on, timetables, routes and the like. The late 20th century saw growing restrictions on driving, from closed roads in Camden to the Tory Kenneth Clark introduction of road humps and the related road narrowings. As speed is not the primary cause of accidents (otherwise why do country lanes have a 60mph limit?) but lack of concentration, selfishness and alcohol (check the figures), then the false premise of 20mph zones whatever the restrictions added to create them, and the same restrictions on officially 30mph roads where you’ll wreck your car if you drive over 15mph are clearly for some other purpose. When I decided using logic maybe the councils wanted to do it to put people off driving altogether (forgetting all vehicles use these dreadful roads, including buses and emergency vehicles), soon afterwards the EU plan to ban urban driving by 2050 came out. No coincidence really.
Barnet council broke the mould, uniquely to my knowledge, when they decided to remove the humps and restrictions, much like Liverpool council just set the precedent to remove the bus lanes. A road a mile or so long I used to use to visit my grandma had been given mini roundabouts at every junction, slowing the traffic on a road with no buildings along it every few hundred yards for absolutely no reason. When overnight it seemed they disappeared it simply became a road again rather than an obstacle course. Accident figures are recorded by law when injuries are caused, and the most injuries come in the same borough from the deaths from emergency vehicles being slowed down by road humps, meaning the councils are actually causing more harm than benefit. Knowing this officially what does it tell you about the councils?
Work is the other example in my life, with the standard story of my family’s shop manager, who had a weekly timetable which basically meant when you weren’t serving a customer you’d be dealing with the stock, every single moment of the day. The work was exhausting and demoralising, but we assumed it was necessary for a busy international shop in the centre of London, till the week the manager went on holiday, we did the work when it was needed, and over the fortnight he was away everything he made us do got done in about a day instead of a week. We all then realised the reason the timetable was there is he believed no one should be paid to do nothing, so he simply created the work to make everyone earn their wages rather than relax and work better when they were needed to.
Animals without any speech express freedom the most graphically. The contrast of animals in cages, something to me which is one of the lowest levels of human behaviour, to when they are released, or when the cat or dog is returned from the kennels and bounds out of the car to run around the garden after being locked up for a week or two tells you pretty much all you need to know about the basic principle. If every government was based on this principle then every restriction would be a last resort, rather than their entire motivation.
Imagine the difference in your life if freedom was known as the prime motivation for all aspects of life. Rather than impose discipline as a default in schools onwards, people would have to work out through any required means to only apply it when nothing else would work. Respect of other people is one example- punctuality, carrying out your duties etc, using the other golden rule to treat others as you’d want to be treated yourself, could be started with outside discipline in school and home, but be replaced by self discipline as with early enough training such principles would become second nature. That would ideally be carried through to work and family life, where people would do their jobs properly not because they had to but because they knew they should. Freedom of speech would also be protected unless it actually encouraged people to hurt others, so David Cameron’s two attempts (succeeding the second time) to ban causing offence, a victimless and technically harmless act, and one so widely interpreted it could effectively close down any negative speech in public and possibly private if reported. We are all offended by other people’s words from school onwards, and that is our problem for caring what idiots think, as much as theirs for being idiots. But being an idiot is a personal problem and should not become illegal.
So logic dictates the bare minimum of examples where it is necessary to restrict our freedom for a greater cause. Public health, protecting customers from poisoning by food products, restricting the spread of illnesses etc are pretty obvious and why anyone would want the freedom to sell bad food or sabotage it is anyone’s guess. But they all come under the golden rule and common sense. Working hours can be flexible where lives don’t depend on it, files don’t evaporate when not put away on time, and people can easily be employed to share jobs and arrange the hours between them to allow for children and other personal time when they would otherwise have to be working. Banning cars or making driving difficult affects everyone, like poisoning the air with geoengineering. Even the politicians are held up on the same roads as the plebs they legislate for, so why do they do it? Misanthropy is the root of most such rules, followed by exercise of power simply because they can. Two dangerous and primitive motivations, loved by politicians of all eras.
I believe once people learn the simple message they will quickly and easily wake up. Just imagining the difference between a journey before they narrowed the local roads and sent people on complex diversions is a good start. The extend that to your life. Wouldn’t you rather get to all your appointments easily rather than change buses (London split all their long routes presumably to collect two sets of fares for people going across the new boundary), be able to take time off work without official warnings, and not be taxed on both what you earn above a certain amount or what you spend beyond the bare minimum? Who earned the money? Most of the time you did. You probably studied for a few years, even if just for GCE exams, in order to work, and then the hours you work on top increase your earnings, or amount you sell that people buy because you provide things they need or want, and the government not only take the bare minimum they need to maintain the roads (which will soon be empty), health service, and support those unable to support themselves, they take more because they think it’s wrong for people to have ‘too much’.
Misanthropy returns, punishing those who succeed is another formula we need to consign to history, and wipe out simply through education that it is the exact opposite motivation people need in their short lives to strive to success. If you give up trying as your tenth painting will get you a tenth as much profit when you sell it as your first, then you may give up painting more than a few per year as why bother when you don’t get much back for the others which took you just as long to create? Or do another music tour bringing pleasure to thousands as you’ve reached the top tax threshold level. Like it or not the more money you have the more freedom it offers, so effectively by making it harder to have more than a certain amount under socialism then they are restricting the freedom of those who have done more to earn than their peers. This never means their peers can do and have more, just that they have almost as little as they do.
As a counsellor part of my work is getting people to take back their personal freedom. Who actually has the power to tell others what to do? Their parents, their employers, their governments and their teachers. But from that list one is different, the government. Those with the most power do not have it because they are royalty and aristocracy, at least not any more, but because we employ them (paid for directly from our taxes) to handle issues we can’t ourselves. Not to rule us. Using the minimal interference rule then parenting and employment should only make the fewest rules and allow people to use their own abilities to schedule the work, and if they can’t then the employer should have the freedom to sack them as they can’t do the job. It works both ways. Education is as much about self discipline, so only really needs to make sure students don’t disrupt classes, if they don’t turn up they are only hurting themselves. Hopefully by now I have created a picture of every aspect relating to the single root principle, and explained why in every case there is no need to use more than the bare minimum of restrictions, and this includes taxes and rules applying to work, laws and any other area of human activity. You hate having your freedom restricted, so why should other people have it when it doesn’t affect you? And when I hear the voices shouting from the viewers ‘What about global warming’, something which has caused the most restrictions on everyday lives worldwide since the fall of the Soviet Union, I’d say to watch my first interview on the UN and big society, and discover that was the biggest illusion created to cause the greatest loss of freedom ever encountered by humanity, as it is being applied equally in every UN member state worldwide whether you are aware of it or not, China has just come on board this week. If anyone seriously believes the aims of the Kyoto Protocol of 1992, to basically reduce demand for energy, by making it more expensive and less available, can be an improvement on the effects of a slightly warmer planet outside our lifetimes needs another session at school. This is no different to reducing demand for food, water and air itself. If they could they would, but food is becoming more expensive, meat is being made less attractive as cattle farming is alleged to contribute too much CO2 so is also being discouraged, and many farms in Africa have been cleared to grow biofuel, mainly corn and palm oil, to burn food in engines not designed to use them. Vans and lorries over a certain age are banned in London despite passing the MoT emission tests, and cars in Paris, as all major changes are now carried out in gradual stages so people don’t realise what’s happening till it’s too late. Making essentials such as energy, food and travel harder is making everyone’s life harder, and for what? Pretending they can control the earth’s temperature. As I said about the Incas, thousands of years may pass but humanity has not changed a jot.
Question every attempt to make your life harder. Do they really need to do it? Why are they making something you’ve always done impossible or much more difficult? Why have the new rules at work been brought in and do they really make the firm more productive? Do not accept a single attempt to interfere with your normal activities of life. Who has the right to stop you moving around freely or take more of your money than they need for their requirements? You have given every single one of these people your power except your parents, you can change schools or employers if they do not treat you the way you want to be, and certainly get rid of every politician as they are our servants, not our rulers.
Simple principles, easily understood, and resonate with every living being on the planet.