on 13 December 2012
Douglas Carswell's book, "The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy" points out on page 14 that in 1900 American and British households spent 5-15% of their earnings on the government, compared to 43-51% today. On pages 1-13, he explains:
"In 2010, the American government spent $1,900 billion more than it collected in tax. A year later, the US government borrowed $100 billion each month just to pay the bills. ... Against ... $70,000 annual income, every American is liable for $131,368 of public debt, plus a further $1,031,131 to pay for all those unfunded promises their government has made. If you thought America was mired in debt, take a look at Britain and Europe. Britain's total public and private debts are proportionately even bigger at more than 5 times her entire annual economic output. In Spain, France and Italy, total debt is between 3-4 times annual output. Public debt in Greece is 132% output, Italy 111%, France 90%, Ireland 85%, Germany 83% ... the interest payments on the debt begin to grow faster than they can be paid back.
"Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal have reached this stage ... private lenders have stopped lending to them. Other countries [themselves heavily in debt] have had to step in to bail them out. The US government debt interest bill already means that every US citizen faces the equivalent of $11,000 in interest payments alone each year. ... governments begin to confiscate ever more wealth to pay ... For every $100 that the average American worker earns, $36 is spent on buying government - $29 directly in various payroll taxes and $7 in various consumption taxes ... In Britain, the average worker buys £46 of government for every £100 earned. In Japan, it is Y33 for every Y100 earned. In France and Germany ... 59 Euroes [in every 100 earned, pays] for government ..."
Carswell on page 134 calculates future American debt interest spiralling out of control if socialism continues to dominate over capitalist values: in 2020 America will spend about 15-20% of its tax revenue just servicing its debt interest (more than it spends on defense!), by 2030 the figure will have spiralled to 36%, by 2040 to 58% and by 2050 to 85%. Carswell notes depressingly that in 1788 Louis XVI's French Government was spending 60% of its tax revenue on debt interest servicing (Louis XVI was of course beheaded in 1793 as a result of the French Revolution). America is presently in a better state than Greece and Britain, but it's still headed at full steam towards the very same iceberg with its eyes tightly closed.
The future will bring us daily referendums online. Greek City State "democracy" was a daily referendum of all citizens on all issues, rather than one election for a choice between two clones every four years! The secure database technology is here already: internet banking database technology is more secure and tamper-proof than very expensive-to-process paper ballots in election boxes (which also require time-consuming journeys to election stations, with all the hassle of parking congestion or parking charges), and it is far cheaper! Like the compulsory switchover to digital TV, it will be cheaper to give the few people who don't already have internet access a smartphone to vote on, than to keep converting forests into ballot papers and paying for armies of vote counters.
Daily referendums will easily become part of the same technology that will be used for electing politicians in the near future. The British Government's "ePetition" website that (since 2010) has automatically scheduled a House of Commons debate on an online petition issue once it receives 100,000 signatures can simply be linked into the daily referendum computer database system, so that everyone in the country will be forced to vote at say 7pm each evening on the daily referendum issues, which will cut out the time wasting of Parliament and speed up the democratic process. It will also restore everybody's faith in democracy, which requires a faith in the common human being which today's "no referendum on EUSSR membership" politicians like "Dave-please-don't-call-me-Hitler-Cameron" clearly don't have. Douglas Carswell MP states on page 200 of "The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy":
"Edmund Burke was sceptical about [real, daily referendum Greek City State type] democracy because he feared - as many do today - that the common people had dangerous and angry passions. Mass democracy, it was feared, would become demagoguery. Unpopular minorities would be subject to the arbitrary rule of the mob [an unreasoning fear of the common human being that makes the paranoid hysteria of modern politicians indistinguishable from the paranoia of the dictators like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam, who are the real dangers, not the common human being who is more reasoning and thus more intelligent than the dictators at the top]. In fact, the evidence is that the precise opposite is happening. iDemocracy is leading to smaller, less arbitrary government. In 2010, the UK government introduced a system of ePetitions. This allows campaigners, citizens and pressure groups to initiate debates and votes in the House of Commons. ... The [paranoid and anti-democratic, Jimmy Saville molester supporting] BBC reported the ePetitions innovation entirely in terms of them being a vehicle that might allow the restoration of capital punishment [Melanie Phillips pointed out on page 271 of her 1997 book "All Must have Prizes" that in 1950 - before Capital Punishment was abolished - there were only 500,000 crimes in Britain, contrasted to almost 6,000,000 per year in the 1990s after the Capital deterrent was abolished]."
Carswell concludes on page 262:
"Europeanism, environmentalism, Keynesianism, monetarism ... The dogmas invoked to justify intervention in the affairs of men may vary, but the conceit of the interventionists remains the same. Until now. The digital revolution will reinvigorate the West, limiting once again the size of government and in the process helping make the West more truly Western. It will enable us to constrain those with power once again. The digital revolution will do to grand planners in the West what the collapse of Communism did to the socialist planners in the old Soviet bloc."
on 28 October 2012
I have reviewed "The End Of Politics..." at greater length on my own blogsite, hopefully accessible from here via my username, so I'll be brief with a few extracts from that review here.
The first seven chapters cover "The End". It is a fair portrayal of how and why our current political system is rotten to the core. The political class are portrayed as knowing full well what they are doing, probably only wanting to be sure they see their time out before the consequences of their actions catch up. It is perhaps not surprising that one commentator has already suggested that in days gone by, someone from within who exposed the true nature of how we are overtaxed, overregulated, overgoverned, badly governed and governed by the wrong people (EU bureaucrats, the opinion forming elite etc) would probably have been burned at the stake.
The second half, "The Birth", suggests that the digital revolution will render the Big Government model obsolete, as choice displaces top down prescription. "A cultural revolution is coming that will unseat the constructivist elite", it is suggested, where taxpayers decide to buy less prescribed government services, make more of their own decisions and keep more of their own money for this purpose, all aided by technology.
All in all, a very bold and challenging promotion of how the future government of the UK need not merely comprise management of decline. Provided that the current political class accepts that the days of Big Government are over. Will it? Is this a case of the irresistible force meeting the immoveable object?
Hopefully the author's conclusion, that our best days lie ahead and that we will be healthier, wealthier and happier in several generations' time after Big Government has been laid to rest, will be borne out without too much of a crash. In the meantime, a well deserved five stars for spelling it all out.
on 21 October 2012
I wanted to like this book. The author's diagnosis of the present state of the major democracies is gloomy and compelling, and surely right. But is he right that the system will break down under its own contradictions? I'm afraid he didn't persuade me. And his prescription, which involves a lot of individualisation by means of the internet, was also unpersuasive. There are an awful lot of people out there who don't use the internet in the constructive way that is here postulated. There are even people who never use it!
The book has other problems. The tone is very insistent, and I felt a bit ground down by all the short sentences and the assertiveness. There is also a good deal of repetition in such a comparatively short book. There is a good essay lurking here, but as a book it failed to convert me to the author's prognosis.
on 29 January 2014
Douglas Carswell has written a superb book analysing and explaining previous political and societal structure and explains how the internet is changing traditional perceptions.
The end of politics as we have known it to now signifies the end of an age of traditional pyramidic hierarchical power. It IS the end of an Age and with it has come Judgment Day, accompanied by a monster call Transparency. Historically and traditionally the bloke at the top has been the one who restricts and controls information to the masses.
The Digital Age (the new age) has turned this upside down and now anyone can get hold of any information. The new political age will be one of iDemocracy. Social networking sites are the 'voice on the street' - and smart politicians will realise the full value of a properly worked and interactive Facebook or Twitter page. Currently a lot of mps use them as Fansites - they do so at their peril.
Douglas compliments this also by reminding the reader how personalised the internet is for the user and that in the future it is not inconceivable to have personalised profiles with personalised medical care, finances, even employment. I hope very much that Whitehall is listening to this man - and closely. Carswell blows apart traditional thought. His book is consistent, unbiased and full of commonsense and easy to understand prose.
If you want to understand the shift in our world, read this book.