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Private Unemployment Coverage – How The Free Market Can Give Security For Unemployment

Opinion Piece by Josh L. Ascough

With the UK only now beginning to realise the problem with putting an entire economy on lockdown; forcing millions out of work for being classified as “non-essential”, is it time we rethink how we cover the struggles of unemployment?

Having unemployment coverage run by government has its issues. Due to the fact that no one can consume more than what they produce, if people are unemployed then the government through taxation redistributes money; yet if not enough people are producing, then the resulting answer (in the eyes of the government), is to print more money, resulting in the purchasing power of the money becoming less valuable. This ultimately does further harm to the very people that were in need of help to begin with, as through inflating the money supply, the money operating within the economy becomes less valuable because money is subject to the same laws of supply and demand as any other market good; so the poor, unemployed person with £20 in his pocket from unemployment payments, will find he is less capable of purchasing goods and services than he was before.

It is, quite literally, stealing value and economic growth from our “what was to be” future.

There is also the problem of people who are capable of working, the work exists, yet refuse to work, because there is no incentive to work. If an individual is handed “free” money at the expense of another man’s productive efforts, and he faces no risk or opportunity cost to himself; where is the incentive to work?

In addition there is the problem of individuals who hold a repetition of becoming unemployed through a lack of responsibility resulting in being fired; whether it be through stealing from the workplace, abusing staff and/or customers, lying about being sick or a whole host of other actions which justify the termination of employment, the fact is this:

If you create poor or no incentives for people, you will come up with poor or negative results.

This is not to say there are not people who are unemployed through no direct fault of their own. There are many people who become unemployed due to a whole host of reasons; the company going out of business, costs for employees rising, economic disasters, natural disasters, or simply not meeting the expectations of an employer.

So if the problem is unemployment, why not just create more jobs?

If the goal is purely to have full employment then there is a simple answer; bring back conscription. If every worker is staffed in the army then we will have full employment, but we will also have nothing to eat. Jobs are not the ends, they are a means for people to live better; to put food on the table by the production of what people demand. That is how you achieve economic growth; creating jobs for the production of things which have no demand and simply exist as a policy to “get people to work” creates and holds no value.

“I am very much on the same side as the great Professor Walter Block; if it moves privatise it, if it doesn’t move privatise it. Since everything either moves or doesn’t move we should privatise everything.”

So if employment for the sake of employment and government unemployment coverage aren’t the answer, then what is?

As the title suggests, I believe the answer to be the privatisation of unemployment coverage. I am very much on the same side as the great Professor Walter Block; if it moves privatise it, if it doesn’t move privatise it. Since everything either moves or doesn’t move we should privatise everything.

“Now private doesn’t mean you pay for it or that it is for profit, private simply means it is not owned, run, or managed by the government; to be a private aspect of the economy is to be separate from government involvement or management, and to be commanded and operated by private citizens”

Now private doesn’t mean you pay for it or that it is for profit, private simply means it is not owned, run, or managed by the government; to be a private aspect of the economy is to be separate from government involvement or management, and to be commanded and operated by private citizens. There are a few ways unemployment could be covered in a free market economy which I will go over. However, it should be noted that these are not policies of a top-down approach. Not every means mentioned will be of value to all individuals just like any aspect of the market; this is an approach from a bottom-up position based within human action and incentives.

Community Coverage – We have many locations around the UK which hold on to community values: look out for your neighbours and help to keep your community safe. One form of private unemployment coverage could come in the form of community coverage based within a HA (Homeowners Association). Now in the UK we don’t really have Homeowners Associations apart from a few “gated” communities. A Homeowners Association is a private association, usually formed by estate developers in order to manage homes in residential areas. However in a free market there is relatively no reason these associations could not be run and managed by the community members themselves via the formation of what could be called “Community Contracts”; these contracts would operate on a membership benefit basis.

For example, let’s say John Smith wishes to buy a home in a community which has a Community Contract. He is not required to sign the Contract in order to live in the community; if he chooses to sign, he will be legally obliged to have a certain percentage of his income deposited into the communities fund, which is to be used to cover damages to any of the properties, donations to churches if it is a religious community, maintaining roads, and, on the subject we are focused on, assisting in coverage for unemployment. Now as stated, Mr Smith is free to not sign the contract and live in this community, however if he chooses not to, any damages to his property, any religious building he wishes to attend, any roads within the community he wishes to drive on and covering his unemployment will have to come out of his own pocket, rather than the fund set up by the contractual obligations of the community.

Now the reader may think this is a disadvantage for Mr Smith; however the community is incentivised to have Mr Smith sign the contract, not simply because it means more funds by the community for the community, but because if they can insure Mr Smith is a contracted community member, then they can further insure there will not be a ripple effect on to the value of their own property through damages which have been done to his property, through not being able to afford a toll on the road which goes towards maintenance, or through him becoming unemployed and being unable to pay his bills. His incentive if he chooses to sign the contract is the same as the communities incentive to encourage his signing; shared community values, maintenance of the community resources, ensuring protection against damages and unemployment, and securing the property value at high rates.

“Some may say this is just a local version of government with choice added in to the mix; to which I would say localism and choice by our current standards are the complete opposite of government”

Some may say this is just a local version of government with choice added in to the mix; to which I would say localism and choice by our current standards are the complete opposite of government.

But what if like myself, you don’t really get along with your neighbours and you don’t hold any shared values (I’m a Libertarian ever moving towards Anarcho-Capitalism living in a Labour stronghold; I’m as out of place as Karl Marx in an Economics class) and you don’t value such a setting; or if the location you reside in doesn’t hold community values, what is the option for a purely individual basis?

Unemployment Insurance – An Unemployment Insurance Program (We’ll address it as simply UIP from this point), would operate on a similar basis to most insurance program do now; the higher financial risk you pose the higher rates you’ll have to pay. However just as insurance for health or cars in a free market would be more open to innovations and competition, insurance for unemployment would operate in a much broader sense.

These rates would be based on a number of factors; taking into account a person’s income but in addition taking into consideration living costs, if the person has ever been fired and what for, and the level of experience and/or qualifications which increase or decrease a person’s ability to obtain and retain a job.

This would mean that, for example:

Let’s say we have two individuals; persons A and B.

Person A has a job which pays £20,000 annually, has never been fired, holds 5 years’ experience, holds a degree where there is high demand for that line of work and their consumption and living cost are low.

Person B has a job which pays £23,000 annually, has been fired multiple times for abusing customers, holds 12 years of short-lived experience based on being fired from multiple establishments, holds a diploma where there is high demand for that line of work and has high consumption and living costs.

A’s living costs are low because he doesn’t smoke or drink, has paid off his mortgage and economises on what he consumes.

B’s living costs are high due to holding a high drug and drinking habit, and due to holding debt from excessive credit card use.

If an unemployment insurance company based its rates off of the factors which were mentioned above, then we can assume that B would have higher rates to pay.

B would have higher rates to pay because he has been fired a variety of times due to abusing individuals and because of a high drug/drinking habit. He has a higher risk of becoming unemployed due to his own actions, and so would have to pay more as he is a bigger financial risk to the insurance company.

A would have to pay lower rates due to the fact he has never been fired, holds low living costs due to economising on his resource consumption and holds a degree in an area with high sought after work. He has a low unemployment risk and in the low risk event of losing his job either due to his own actions or an exterior causation, it is speculated he would not be unemployed for a long period of time, due to his experience, and his sought after qualifications.

“We can see from this scenario that the unemployment coverage would favour those who are responsible individuals and financially punish those who were not responsible”

We can see from this scenario that the unemployment coverage would favour those who are responsible individuals and financially punish those who were not responsible and were the cause of their own terminations.

This would incentivise what otherwise would be harmful, reckless individuals who become unemployed due to their own negative actions to take on responsibility, while ensuring those who are responsible and who may lose their jobs due to exterior reasons receive higher coverage for lower costs, because due to their responsible actions are less of a financial risk to themselves or the insurers.

This is all good for those who already have employment, but what about individuals in communities where there is no employment; how do we address this problem?

Unemployment Charities and Work Foundations – Now addressing an entire community which is unemployed and in poverty is a difficult subject in the hypothetical because (A – poverty is the natural state of man and (B – lack of economic activity is not a black and white scenario and can occur for a variety of reasons; for the purposes of this example however, we will assume that poverty within an entire community has occurred due to governments regulating economic activity out of business, and has become a generational problem.

Within a market economy, charities could be set up much easier than current (we can also make the assumption that in this hypothetical scenario, the monetary sphere and government are separate, and sound money is active; which would remove the risk of private charities being decimated by inflation), to provide financial aid to those who need it. In addition to this work foundations could be set up, which would receive their funding via donations from private citizens and businesses, in order to provide training to individuals to give them the skills for work; as well as provide funding to individuals looking to set up a business to boost the GDP of their community, but lack the funds due to no economic activity and/or not being able to acquire a loan due to low or no credit score.

The ultimate theme here is one of choice; choice for how we cover ourselves and help our neighbours and whether we choose to do either or not.

“Nobody likes to see others suffer, but forcing resources from others in order to give to another does not make the giving moral. What makes it moral is the recognition of choice and the analysis of values each person holds”

Nobody likes to see others suffer, but forcing resources from others in order to give to another does not make the giving moral. What makes it moral is the recognition of choice and the analysis of values each person holds; can any act actually be deemed “moral” if it is forced without any understanding as to why this act is right or wrong? If I put a gun to my neighbours head in order to redistribute his wealth to someone else who I deem to need it more, am I moral or would I have been moral if I took the time to persuade him of the moral value of charity, and he gave based on his own understanding and agreement of value?

It is very easy to force things from and upon others; it is difficult to persuade, but it is a lot more rewarding and long term, as if you can achieve such a feat, you will have created a moral framework, rather than a violently forced act of charity; which is no charity at all.

Main image: https://www.123rf.com/photo_96096037_stack-of-cv-and-application-for-employment-on-blue-desk.html

Interview with Kevin Bruns, Leader of the UK Liberty Party

Set-up in 2016 the UK Liberty Party has the “SteppingStones” concept of moving continually closer towards protecting individual rights, enabling laissez-faire capitalism and achieving a constitutionally limited government.  The party allows members to directly propose party policy and somewhat unusually, amongst other things, has its own coffee brand

We speak with party leader Kevin Bruns.  Kevin thank-you for your time.

What are your feelings about how we make the country more free and how would your “SteppingStones” work?

To have a free country you first have to have free individuals. Freedom is a fundamental requirement of Man’s nature; a being of the mind. It is Man’s mind that is his tool for survival, for thinking, creating, discovering, producing; for living.

The enemy of that freedom to think, to act, is force from another. If a man lived on a dessert island he would not need the concept of freedom; of Rights. There is no-one to use force on him. He would however, need a guide to action, a moral code; “What should I do to survive?”.

It is that code that leads to the question “What should I do if I meet someone else?”. The answer, in recognition of the potential of force from another, is the moral concept of Rights; the sanction of action within a societal context.

That is the base we work from. Everything in the context of the individual and his Rights. It is the base we think a proper government should work from. The first “SteppingStone”, although not part of our intro video, which deals with potential policy ideas, is to spread the idea of this view of Rights and what constitutes a proper government leading to a wider acceptance and understanding of what freedom means, how Rights protect that freedom and how a proper government protects those Rights.

”SteppingStones” as an idea comes from a family holiday when I was younger at a place called Tarr Steps. A series of large stepping stones across, what seemed to be at the time, a raging river. I was hesitant to cross and received this piece of advice from my Dad “Look, to get to the other side seems really hard because you’re looking at the river and how far away the other side is. Just a take it one step at a time and you’ll get there.”

That’s the basic premise, to steadily work towards our goals, as you set out in your introduction.

“Party members helping to create policy seemed logical to me. The more people that I can involve in the process of thinking about the party’s goals and suggesting ways to bring them into reality the greater the chances of change”

We now have a quite a few parties in the UK that are broadly liberation.  What makes your party different and how does your system of letting members propose policy work?

The philosophy of freedom, Rights and proper government formed following that philosophy is our difference and I think is unique to us.

Party members helping to create policy seemed logical to me. The more people that I can involve in the process of thinking about the party’s goals and suggesting ways to bring them into reality the greater the chances of change.

It’s all done electronically and offers Members the opportunity to influence the policies that could ultimately affect their lives.

The party has an online shop with it’s own tea and coffee brands.  What led to that coming about?

Capitalists gonna Capitalist! Joking aside, it was simply an idea to ensure that the party isn’t reliant on Members or donors to have the funds to grow. Gaining new members is hard work.

Our Liberty Store not only offers a great range of tea and coffee but also clothing and accessories with more products in the pipeline.

Being advocates of laissez-faire capitalism there is also a range of business focussed services that help them to reduce their running costs. These include, electric, gas, mobile and broadband.

Individuals can also sign up to be ‘Liberty Ambassadors’, we provide them with personalised urls’, they share them on social media and then we pay them a commission or bonus on any sales that happen as a result. Not only do they earn an extra income but we have funding to grow. Win-win.

“A small, temporary, ‘War Fund’ tax, started over 200 years ago has become one of the most Rights abusing activities of government… and is roundly applauded by most. It just shows how difficult it is going to be to move towards freedom”

To give our readers an idea about the party, could you briefly set-out your platforms on Brexit, Global Warming, and Taxation?

Pro Brexit. This government hasn’t handled it to my liking. However, with no influence in the direction they took, it was odds on that most voters would be left not fully satisfied. There seem to a be a million different ideal outcomes that government hasn’t achieved!

”Global Warming” is too much of an abstract term. Too all encompassing. It’s a tool for an agenda of global governance.

However, assuming that it is the biggest issue we are facing, the solution is not to give more and more power to governments to tackle it. The solution is to allow entrepreneurs the freedom to identify specific problems and come up with market solutions.

Taxation is extortion. It does however serve as a great lens on the creeping nature of government power that we have allowed to become commonplace. A small, temporary, ‘War Fund’ tax, started over 200 years ago has become one of the most Rights abusing activities of government… and is roundly applauded by most. It just shows how difficult it is going to be to move towards freedom.

“A free market would have quickly learnt lessons over each virus outbreak and would be far better equipped to deal with outbreaks. The NHS seems to start out as ‘Baby Bird’ each time, simply falling out of the nest and waiting to see if it can fly!”

We’re in the period of Covid and the ever moving lockdown.  What do you think of the governments handling of the crisis, and what would you like to see done next?

Government, and I mean government as I envisage it, must always be restrained from initiating force. It is an agent of self-defence. It is a Rights protection agency. Today’s government is a contradiction of almost everything I advocate for.

Using government force (tests, lockdowns, businesses closed) on those not proven to be infectious is wrong, it is a Rights violation. In respect of Rights the question should always be “What do we do about X without violating Rights?”.

Government should have set out very simple guidelines at the start and should have locked borders to all those not able to prove their infectious status.

Should have been:

  • If you are over 60 with any health issues stay home whenever possible (Data from as early as late Jan was showing these most affected). Everyone else carry on until you show any of these symptoms X,Y,Z. At that time you *must* get a test. (Yes, at the point of an individual with symptoms showing it becomes a Rights issue so government mandates are permissible) Then, if positive, self-isolate, track and trace, rinse repeat (again by mandate if necessary).
  • It must be clear though, without proof a government cannot use any force. By force, I mean Laws, Regulations etc. not just physical.

As to what they should be doing today, the above.

It’s worth noting that the government response has been influenced by the inability of the NHS to respond to this type of emergency. A free market would have quickly learnt lessons over each virus outbreak and would be far better equipped to deal with outbreaks. The NHS seems to start out as ‘Baby Bird’ each time, simply falling out of the nest and waiting to see if it can fly!

We have a bumper set of local elections coming up in May next year.  What are your plans for these and generally for elections going forward?

It’s far too early to stand in elections with any hope of being elected. Look at the momentum The Brexit Party created and the growth of members and yet it didn’t manage anything of note at the elections.

Our plans are to work on spreading ideas. Ultimately unless people adopt new (better) ideas anything political will always end up as a tyranny of the majority.

What can people do if they want to get involved?

Most importantly discover more about the ideas that we advocate. Become a Member or Supporter. Buy our products. Use or services. Send us money. Need Help!

The UK Liberty Party are online, on Twitter, and on Facebook.  Kevin is also on Twitter.

COVID-19: ‘I Fear We’ll See UK Government Start to Lock Down Various Places Again’ – Sputnik Radio Interview

Scientists at UCL and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined the possible implications of schools reopening in the UK coupled with broader reopening of society, such returning to workplaces and increased socialising within the community. Sputnik spoke to Michael Swadling from the Croydon Constitutionalists, about this.

“I feel the real reason for that though is it’s the scaremongering. This is coming from, of course public health authorities; and universities; and people who are in the business of worrying about major public health issues will say that something could happen. Almost anything could happen”

“What I really think we’re seeing here, is an industry that’s now sprung up around causing panic and planning for a future with COVID; and with this disease and other diseases and of course, the last thing they want is for us to get back to normal because that kind of ends their reasons for being”

“People aren’t going to hospital for cancer screening, people aren’t going to hospitals for a whole range of issues and of course, as unemployment rise, we know that always comes with a debt count. It’s not just about managing this one thing, what we need is a government actually governs and manages a whole range of things at once, not just looking at COVID but looking at the whole health and just getting this country back to normal whilst isolating the most at risk group”

“Rather than us looking for the silver bullet, we’ve got to look at how we live our lives with this….just get back to normal. Get us back, living with this but living and enjoying our lives, getting the economy going; rather than having to live in fear of something that actually isn’t going to affect most of us and is destroying our economy to boot”

Full article – https://sputniknews.com/analysis/202008041080058166-covid-19-i-fear-well-see-uk-government-start-to-lock-down-various-places-again-pundit-says/

Podcast Episode 39 – Josh L Ascough: Covid News, War on Obesity, LibDems, Japan Trade Deal & New Peerages

We are joined by Josh L Ascough from the Libertarian Party, as we discuss the latest Covid news, the War on Obesity, the withdrawal of the Liberal Democrats’ London Mayoral Candidate, the potential for a post Brexit UK-Japan Trade Deal and some interesting new Peerages. We then chat with Josh about why he became a libertarian, his upcoming book on The Social Science of The Market, the free market and environmentalism, price gouging, a free market in education and the benefits of cryptocurrencies.

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Articles from Josh at https://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/category/josh-l-ascough/

Josh is on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/j.l.ascough/

We ask Josh:

  1. Firstly Josh what led you to become a Libertarian?
  2. You’re writing a book on ‘The Social Science Of The Market’.  Can you tell us a little about what this will cover and what’s made you write a book?
  3. We spoke recently about the free market and environmentalism?  How do you think we can use the market to improve the environment?
  4. You wrote for us about price gouging.  So why do you think Tesco’s, Sainsburys etc. should have been able to, and maybe should have charged us £10 for a roll of toilet paper?
  5. Schools have been closed most of this year so far, but hopefully will be back in September.  You wrote for us about a private market in Education. Briefly how would that work, and what do you see as the main benefits?
  6. Lastly all good libertarians have a problem with Central Banks, and you’re no exception.  So will Crypto save us all from fiat currency quantitative easing?

Podcast Episode 38 – Victory for Free Speech, the Russia Report, Roman Warming & Junk Food Advert Ban

We discuss a recent victory for free speech, the report into Russian interference in our democracy, some recent articles published by the Global Warming Policy Forum and the Government’s proposed banning of junk food adverts on tv before the 9pm watershed.

Some useful links referenced in the Podcast:

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Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and the Blockchain – The Potential Future of Money

Economic Piece by Josh L. Ascough

When writing about the subject of money, I think it’s worth having a bit of fun by quoting the Monty Python Money song:

“There is nothing quite as wonderful as money. There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash. Some people say it’s folly, but I’d rather have the lolly. With money you can make a splash.

You can keep your Marxist ways, for it’s only just a phase… Money makes the world go round!” ~ Monty Python The Money Song

“Money is quite literally the life blood of any economy, and a people’s ability to communicate value to one another”

Money has played one of the most important roles in our ability to communicate throughout the world of commerce. Thanks to money, we are better equipped to calculate the marginal utility of goods and services, which ensures we can evaluate the cost of production and the value of capital. Money is quite literally the life blood of any economy, and a people’s ability to communicate value to one another.

But thanks (or rather, no thanks) to government involvement and its monopolistic grip over the monetary sphere, money has not advanced in 100 years; in fact, it has gotten worse.

“money never used to be a symbol of ‘national sovereignty’, in fact during the period of the classical gold standard, money was not nationalised; it was an international means of calculating value via the means of value to weight ratio and arithmetic”

Not many people realise, but money never used to be a symbol of “national sovereignty”, in fact during the period of the classical gold standard, money was not nationalised; it was an international means of calculating value via the means of value to weight ratio and arithmetic. Gold was gold. It did not matter what brand was on the coin as it was all in the form of precious metals.

Sadly, we went down a very damning path by nationalising money, and giving full control over the monetary sphere to governments and the central banks. We took what was a once a bottom-up process based on market democracy, and turned it into a top-down process based on institutional, cartel-like tyranny.

However, though governments will fight hard to not resurrect the gold standard, we have an alternative to the monopolistic, monolithic hold over our money. Allow me to introduce you to the wonderful world of Cryptocurrency.

Before we delve into the subject of Cryptocurrency I think it is important to debunk an idea that has circulated for a while:

Where does money come from?

There has been this strange consensus for a while that could be the root of the idea for assumed consent of taxes; which is that money is created by government.

This is in fact not true in any sense. In fact it is actually the complete opposite.

Money has always been a creation of the private, organic markets. When I say the private market, I don’t mean a CEO of a company creates a money and says “this is money, and this is how much it is worth.” Rather, I’m referring to the organic process of human interaction. I’ll try not to turn this into an article on the creation of money, but I will attempt to explain this through a chronological ordering:

Let’s say there is a community with no money and it is operating in a system of barter. Barter is a system with no commodity for the means of exchange and so those wishing to acquire goods and services will trade economic goods for economic goods, via the means of Direct Exchange; for example let’s say I grow wheat and you raise cows. I have 50 crates of wheat, enough to serve my immediate needs via 2 crates and enough to keep aside for future use via 10, yet I can further satisfy my needs by acquiring a cow.

You are raising 20 cows, you hold 1 for an immediate food source, 5 for future food sources, 2 for milk which you use to drink and create butter, and 4 for breeding, yet you can also further satisfy your needs by acquiring wheat.

Your uses for the wheat equate to you requiring 20, and you hold the use value you hold over the 8 cows as being below that of 20 crates. My use for the cow equates to requiring 4, and I hold the use value I hold over the 38 crates as being lower than the 4 cows.

In all economic activity we are seeking to increase our value by trading goods we deem to have lower value for ourselves, and so if I value 4 cows to be equal in value to my 38 crates of wheat and was to trade the exact amount, I would not be gaining value. The same is true for the other side; If you value your 8 cows to be equal to 20 crates and you were to trade the exact amount, you would not be gaining value – therefore the ratio for me to gain would mean I’m willing to trade no more than 37 crates, and in order for you to gain you are willing to trade no more than 7 cows.

We agree to a trade by you acquiring 30 crates of wheat in exchange for me gaining 6 cows.

30 crates = 6 cows.

This system of barter is all well and good until a few issues arise.

Within a system of barter, we rely on a coincidence of wants; we are focused on the necessity of our neighbours coincidently having a need that can be satisfied through the use of what his fellows have, and vice versa.

Additionally, the perishability of goods is another problem. If you are growing wheat, and your neighbour says he doesn’t want wheat now, but he probably will in the future. The problem here is that wheat doesn’t last forever, after a period of time it will shrivel up and be incompatible for the uses it could’ve served. Continuing down this, perishable goods cannot be traded over great distances as again, they will shrivel, grow mould and become unable to satisfy the needs they once held use value for, so under this system direct trade based on the coincidence of wants can only be maintained within a local community; not city to city or nation to nation.

Finally the other problem with a system of barter, is the indivisibility of goods. If you are raising horses for example, you are looking to acquire wood and straw to build yourself a basic hut, and people have a need which can be satisfied through the use of said horse and hold command over the goods you are seeking, you cannot divide the horse into a multitude of pieces to satisfy both “buyers” and yourself, as the horse will then lose its use value, and if both the wood and the straw hold no value to you on their own, then even trading the horse to one person regardless of who will not form a gain in value to yourself, as you would be no worse off with or without.

Now the way in which a money is brought to the market occurs when an economic good, which holds use value, acquires the quality of being a means of exchange, by confirming a few important qualities:

Scarcity – scarcity is the primary requirement for a good to be deemed an economic good, and it is no different for money. If a money is not scarce, then it loses its value and ceases to be an economic good. A historical example of what happens when a money is made non-scarce, is the period of hyperinflation in Germany.

Divisibility – this could also be referred to dramatically as the indestructability of a sound or “good” money. An indestructible or divisible economic good, is one in which it can be divided into fractions without losing it value. A perfect example of this is the gold standard; if you had a 1kg bar of gold and broke the bar up into a thousand pieces each equalling 1g, the value of gold has not diminished it has simply been divided into more flexible quantities.

Durability – a sound money will be able to be transported across cities, towns and nations without fear of the money shrivelling up, and losing its value; this is very similar to the divisibility of money.

These are the qualities of an economic good that are required for a money to occur over the course of time within the market. So if, let’s say, steel was seen to satisfy a need which people had and therefore held use value, then an innovative, entrepreneurial individual would come to the conclusion that, steel is scarce so it quantifies as an economic good and the more people demand it the more valuable it will become, it is divisible/indestructible because it can be broken up and melted down into different quantities of different sizes and weights, and it is durable because it retains itself over long periods of time making it possible to transfer as far as other nations; this individual would decide to begin accepting steel in exchange for his goods and services. The steel now has gained a new quality, it has acquired an exchange value by obtaining the ability to be a means of exchange; it is now of intrinsic value.

If you would like to see further details about how money comes into the world, I highly recommend Carl Mengers book – The Origins of Money.

So, what is Cryptocurrency?

Crypto is a digital commodity which is created through the means of what is called Crypto mining; using specialized hardware to code at a variety of hash rates and adding blocks to the chain (Blockchain). This process takes a lot of processing power just like mining for gold. The Hash rate is the speed at which a software is able to complete the operation of accessing crypto code; the greater your hash rate the more crypto you’ll be able to mine.

There are a wide variety of Cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin being the most famous and most valuable; at the time of writing this (24/07/20), 1 BTC is valued at £7,498. Other forms of Crypto are Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.

At the time of writing this, they are valued at:

1 ETH = £221.

1 XRP = £0.16.

1 BCH = £184.

1 LTC = £34.97.

Cryptocurrency has all the qualities that require a money to come on to the market.

“These mechanisms ensure that only a fixed quantity of each Cryptocurrency can be created through coding regardless of the hash rate. So once a maximum quantity has been created, no more for that particular Cryptocurrency can be brought into existence”

It is a scarce resource. Many may say, how can something with no physical qualities be scarce? Well that is thanks to the mechanisms operating within the Blockchain itself. These mechanisms ensure that only a fixed quantity of each Cryptocurrency can be created through coding regardless of the hash rate. So once a maximum quantity has been created, no more for that particular Cryptocurrency can be brought into existence. This also ensures that it cannot be manipulated through artificial creation or inflation, and so as the production operating in an economy is lower than the money supply we will see what is known as Growth Deflation, resulting in prices falling; not necessarily due to overall supply of goods being higher than consumer demand, but because the money has become more valuable than the capital and consumer goods themselves.

It is divisible. Cryptocurrency can be divided between different coders, hashers, consumers, suppliers and investors without it causing the currency to lose its overall value.

It is durable/indestructible. Cryptocurrency probably has the most unique form of this than any other form of money, because all money, even the gold standard over very long periods of time will wither. Under the gold standard even though there were huge benefits to this monetary system, over prolonged periods of time the coins would lose weight and so a coin which originally weighed 1 pound, could be reduced by continuous use to say 3/4 of 1 pound or lower, and so that particular coin would be less valuable. Crypto though, thanks to its non-physical quality and being completely based in code, can go on, and on, and on; forever. Cryptocurrency is the purest form of indestructible money.

There has been criticism and questions over Cryptocurrency in general and I’d like to address some of them.

“So Crypto is just a money. What about a payment system?”

Cryptocurrency has a unique quality about it where it is both a money and a payment system. The payment system is built into the money itself, for example imagine if PayPal was its own form of money as well as a payment system; rather like how most modern gaming controllers have battery packs built into them rather than the battery being a separate aspect; except the batteries in the Crypto payment system down run out of power.

“The Blockchain not only acts as a massive database for all the Crypto in existence, but has built into it a ledger that keeps track of transactions occurring as well as keeping a log of what belongs to who”

“If it is all digital how do you know what belongs to who?”

The Blockchain not only acts as a massive database for all the Crypto in existence, but has built into it a ledger that keeps track of transactions occurring as well as keeping a log of what belongs to who. Note that when I say track I don’t mean the ledger is keeping track of what you buy or who where the money is going; to keep with the privacy of Cryptocurrency, the ledger tracks when transactions occur, and how much; that’s it.

“How secure is Crypto; could I get hacked?”

Just as any piece of technology, there is always a possibility that your wallet could get hacked, but at the current period of time, unless someone has access to your private key; which is built into each individual wallet that only the owner has access to, it would be impossible to hack into someone’s account and steal your money without requesting money first, which is done by sharing your public key to customers or businesses, which is used to enact transactions.

I would like to rewind my statement earlier about it being a money and a payment system, as with the information on the private key it can be noted as being three; a money, a payment system and a personal private bank.

“What about the crash that happened to Bitcoin in 2017?”

This has often been thrown around in an attempt to discredit Crypto in general, however the reason the crash happened is very straight forward and, while it is something skilled techno-minded people are looking to solve, from an economic position its reasoning comes down to artificial barriers in the way.

Crypto has all the qualities of a money. It is scarce, divisible, durable, it holds exchange value and is a means of exchange. However, at the time, it did not hold use value because it could not be used in large numbers of transactions; so as large numbers of people were increasing the demand and overall value of Bitcoin, when it was realised it couldn’t be used speculation went against its favour and caused the value to drop. Now as stated, there are very skilled technically minded people working on ensuring it has usability, however I would argue it comes more down to governments holding a monopoly on what money is “meant” to be, and so blocking any and all competition for better, more efficient means of exchange. There is also the aspect that not all businesses wish to commit to transactions in Crypto, but no money ever created through the spontaneous, unplanned order of the market comes about instantly; these things take time and the user interface has hugely improved since Crypto’s inception in 2009.

If Cryptocurrency continues to advance, and achieve better, faster and more user friendly means, we could see the death of big government faster than we could have hoped only a decade ago; we could see an end to central banking by adopting completely private wallets, storing private money.

Without full control over money, nation states cannot maintain their power.

Main image: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

https://pixabay.com/illustrations/crypto-currency-bitcoin-blockchain-3130381/

Interview with Sofia Svihurova, Brighton Group Leader of the Libertarian Party

One of the least religious places in the UK, the worst rate for homelessness outside London.  Home to Britain’s only Green MP and its first Green Party Council, the city of Brighton and Hove is not the first place you think of fertile as ground for a free market, small state party.  However gaining ground for these ideals is the role Sofia Svihurova takes on as Brighton Group Leader of the Libertarian Party.

Recently completing a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Ethics at the University of Brighton, with a thesis on “Concerning the Right to Self-Defence in the UK and the Issue of Empowerment”, Sofia spoke at the Libertarian Party 2019 Conference about why she is libertarian.

Sofia thanks for agreeing to speak to us.

“To me libertarianism at least tries to uphold these rights and values, it might not hand you anything for free but it won’t interfere in your life either unless you’re actively physically harming someone”

You spoke at the conference about why you are a libertarian, but for our readers can you tell us a little about why you are a libertarian and why you joined the party?

My first introduction to anything anti-establishment was actually punk rock, I really got into the whole Anarchy in the UK mentality and I especially still have a soft spot for the Clash. It was weirdly enough political music that got my attention and then I mostly just watched the news from there and found out that libertarianism made the most sense to me. The most interesting shift for me was probably seeing attitudes towards freedom of speech, shifting from the Conservatives censoring speech to the Left doing it, and of course both sides now either blame each other for censorship or act like they’re championing it. For me, neither side really cares or represents the people or their rights. To me libertarianism at least tries to uphold these rights and values, it might not hand you anything for free but it won’t interfere in your life either unless you’re actively physically harming someone. For me libertarianism is just the most reasonable ideology out of the whole lot. I joined the party because I wanted to promote those values and meet more likeminded people who also saw liberty as vital to a good life.

“Brighton has a lot of potential for libertarianism. There are a lot of anarchist groups around with people actively volunteering and doing stuff to help their community instead of moping around waiting for the local council to do something”

Brighton doesn’t seem a natural home to libertarian Politics.  How did libertarian ideas go down on campus and more generally in Brighton?

You’d be surprised actually! I think Brighton has a lot of potential for libertarianism. There are a lot of anarchist groups around with people actively volunteering and doing stuff to help their community instead of moping around waiting for the local council to do something. And of course, the whole town is mostly obscure small businesses that somehow have enough customers to keep going, so I think there is a lot to work with! Recently, the council have been experimenting with the whole “car-free” idea, by closing off Madeira Drive by the seafront, and people are already protesting it saying it will affect business too much.  I think Brighton is already convinced of the ideas of personal freedoms and small state, it’s just the economic side that would be an uphill battle.

As for libertarianism on campus, it took me a while to speak out and say what I truly believed but I eased people around me in to my way of thinking and by the end of first year I had built up a libertarian reputation (for better or worse)! During my second year I managed to get on to the Philosophy Society committee and managed to get 2 speakers who weren’t strictly radically left, one was even a libertarian from the IEA so that was a win! In all honesty, now that I am thinking about it I wish I had done more but it was always so exhausting and felt like an uphill battle. I think there was one other person in my year who I knew of that was libertarian/conservative and stuck with their views from beginning to end.

Because of this I was mostly involved with Libertarianism in Brighton outside my uni. I first joined a non-party group, Liberate Brighton, who later became the Brighton Brexiteers. There I met people like Paul and Ian who inspired me to keep fighting the good fight even after they decided to step away from it a bit. We’ve had a few meet ups as the party “Brighton Libertarians” and had a good few people show up! I think it’s important to keep these sorts of socials going, even if we don’t always end up doing anything productive at least it allows people to meet up and speak freely and feel less alone in this largely left-wing town.

Your thesis was on “Concerning the Right to Self-Defence in the UK and the Issue of Empowerment”.  Clearly this was a major piece of work, but what are your main views on the issue?

Well, first of all I should highlight that, unfortunately, I didn’t really reach some grand conclusion. After doing over a year’s worth of research I mostly found out that there is no one size fits all solution. But my research did lead me to find out just how ridiculous the laws here are. Of course, pepper spray is still very much illegal. But in fairness you could just carry a bug-spray, just don’t tell anyone that you’re using it for self-defence because then you’re carrying it “with intent to harm” and that’s definitely something that could get you into trouble. Similarly, while carrying a knife with a blade under 3 inches is legal, make sure you’re not carrying it for self-defence reasons (again intent to harm). Legally the only self-defence item we are allowed to carry in the UK is a rape whistle. Which is ridiculous of course, there is no defence in that at all. Imagine using it in a big city like London, it would get about as much attention as a car alarm going off does. We have to be pragmatic about these things, telling people in the UK that they should all have access to firearms from tomorrow so that they can defend themselves is never going to work. Legalizing pepper spray might though, everyone I have spoken to on all sides of the political spectrum seems to agree with this. We can’t rely on the police for protection, those minutes, sometimes even an hour between you getting attacked and the police showing up could mean life or death. And if the US is anything to go by the police might not always be on our side anyway.

You’ve been at University during lockdown, how has this affected higher education, and do you have any thoughts on what more permanent changes we might see in universities as a result of this period?

We had our lectures emailed to us and just used Microsoft Teams for our seminars which only worked so well due to the technical difficulties everyone was having. I can definitely see universities simply uploading lectures online instead of having them in person. It would save on a lot of time and money for sure, hopefully for both sides… Seminars and Lab work or anything hands on like that are probably irreplaceable though. It wouldn’t be the same experience otherwise, debating with people is already too impersonal with it mostly just happening online and whatnot. I think having to physically talk to people you disagree with is so important, even if you walk away with no minds changed you can always learn something from the other person, even if it’s just realizing the way the other person thinks so you can avoid certain traps or phrases next time you try to get them to see your side.

“The overall lockdown situation is pretty terrifying from a libertarian perspective though, the state has just decided to give itself huge amount of power, I am not sure how easily they will give that up again if they even will at all”

More broadly what do you think of the government’s handling of the Covid crisis and lockdown?

I have the mainstream view that the way they handled it was ridiculous. They change their mind about what we should and shouldn’t do almost every week. So many mixed messages for different groups of people too… I think they should have just done local lockdowns from the beginning and closed the borders for a bit. There’s no knowing if that would really work of course but maybe that would have somewhat controlled economic damage at least. The overall lockdown situation is pretty terrifying from a libertarian perspective though, the state has just decided to give itself huge amount of power, I am not sure how easily they will give that up again if they even will at all.

Now lockdown is easing how do you think the government should get the economy back up and running?

Remove a lot of unnecessary red tape first of all and lower taxes for a good while as well. We will have to pay back all that debt at some point, that’s what worries me most.

During this time we’ve seen an explosion of cancel culture and identity politics.  What are your thoughts on these?

To be honest I don’t care about these things as much as some people in our circles. I think that sometimes it’s just used as a distraction. Sometimes we end up spammed with news of multigender polyamorous “families” bringing their kids up identifying as spirit animals or whatever, but I don’t see why we should give it any attention, it’s all they’re after anyway. While we’re getting mad at them for making up new gender pronouns, there’s a whole elite paedophile ring investigation being swept under the rug, or new tyrannical laws being introduced, know what I mean?

As for cancel culture, I think it can be tough, but it’s also always been unavoidable. If you’re going to go on a mainstream platform and insult half the people using it of course they’re going to boycott and report you. It’s not fun to see when it’s someone you support getting cancelled, but I suppose it’s like the free market working, gotta keep your consumers happy so they don’t consume you instead of your content! I think the free market is already fixing this issue though, especially with Parler and Gab and similar such platforms gaining popularity.

If you could introduce or remove 3 laws what would they be?

Definitely remove. Firstly, I would get rid of laws prohibiting pepper-spray. Secondly, and a similar to the first one, I would remove the “carrying with intent to harm” law. And can I also say, remove income tax?

How are you espousing libertarian ideas in Brighton, and what can people do to get involved?

Now that I am out of university, I mostly just organize the meet ups and post on the Brighton Facebook page. The meet ups should be back up again soon hopefully, now that the virus is slowing down! If people want to get involved they should definitely just DM the page or email us or just DM me directly. I will be living in London from now so if anyone local would be interested in helping me run the Brighton page that would be great!

Brighton Libertarians are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrightonLibertarians/ or email: [email protected]

Podcast Episode 37 – Mandatory Face Masks, Cancelling a Mayor & the BBC’s Corbynista Correspondent

We discuss mandatory COVID face masks in shops, the Environmental Agency Cancelling a Mayor and the BBC’s Corbynista correspondent.

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Podcast Episode 36 – Mini-Budget, Council Job Cuts, Purley Skyscraper, BBC & an interview with Jayde Edwards

We discuss the reopening of pubs and gyms, the Mini-Budget, Croydon Council job cuts, the Purley Skyscraper and the BBC’s latest antics. We then have an interview with Jayde Edwards, a local Conservative Party activist who stood in the Fairfield ward by-election last November. We chat with Jayde about her campaign, issues affecting young people in Croydon, the Black Lives Matter movement and how she is inspiring more young people to get involved in politics locally.

You can read our previous interview Jayde at https://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/interview-with-jayde-edwards-the-conservative-party-candidate-for-council-by-election-in-fairfield-ward/ and follow her on Twitter.

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We ask Jayde about:

  • How do you feel the Fairfield campaign went?
  • Looking back what are your thoughts on the treatment you received from real and social media?
  • You wanted to “inspire young people, I also want to bring something new to Croydon – a new passion and a new energy”.  We saw large crowds out to campaign for you.  What’s the lasting effect of their politically engagement?
  • In your campaign you focused on “Westfield and the promise that was given to residents”, and “Knife crime and the lack of opportunities”.  What are your views on where we are now on both of these issues?
  • What are your thoughts on the General election win and the more recently the impact of the lockdown?
  • Looking at your Twitter, you hold a more nuanced view than many on the Black Lives Matter movement.  How do you think we best move forward?
  • We recently hosted a podcast with people of faith talking about how their faith impacts their politics.  How do you feel you faith impacts your political view?
  • Lockdown is lifting, what’s next for you?

Lording a better democracy – House of Lords reform.

Following articles by Crispin Williams and Jeremy Wraith, Mike Swadling has written his views on how we should reform the House of Lords.  Let us know what you think of these proposals.  Write to us at Croydon Constitutionalists to share your views.

We shouldn’t give up on Lords reform.  The current home for failed politicians is simply not good enough.  I believe the proposals below would control costs, whilst providing a separate chamber closer to the people and widen representation in our democracy.

Alternatives

Possibly the very best solution to resolve the challenge of how to complete House of Lords reform is simply to reverse the clock.  For all its faults and failings the undemocratic house, full of hereditary peers, frankly worked quite well.  Under it we extended the franchise for men and gave women the vote.  Passed multiple Factory Acts improving working conditions, legalised trade unions, had agricultural and industrial revolutions, and built and started giving up, an empire.  We won two world wars against Germany, and arguably two more against France.  It wasn’t democratic but it was a system that, albeit sometimes rather slowly, worked.

Of course we aren’t going to return to a hereditary second chamber, but what should we do?

Article 3 of the United States Constitution starts “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”

The Legislature chose the Senators to make them accountable to the state government rather than a party or other grouping.  Whilst in the US this has been amended with people voting directly for their Senators, as a model I like the idea for an overly London centric UK giving true regional representation in its legislature.

Alas the UK does not have the regional bodies in place to provide those senators.  The mixture of assemblies and parliaments we do have (Welsh, Scottish, Greater London, etc) are not exactly universally popular or respected.

Perhaps for all their faults we could use these bodies as an example of what we can do to build out a new house.  The Green Party and UKIP / Brexit Party whilst being diametrically opposed groups, have consistently performed well for the past decade but neither have managed more than 2 MPs.  Nationalist parties do better, but with the exception of the SNP in recent years tend to be under represented, and running or functioning as an independent candidate or member is a mostly hopeless task.  This is not so true in the regional bodies of the UK.  For instance Wales has;

  • 10 Plaid Cymru,
  • 2 Independent,
  • 4 Brexit Party,
  • 1 UKIP,
  • 1 Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party,
  • 1 Welsh National Party,

assembly members as well as the usual members from the Conservatives, Labour and the LibDems.  The Scottish parliament manages 6 Greens and 2 Independents on top of the SNP, Conservatives, Labour and LibDem members.  In Northern Ireland in addition to the main Unionist and Republican parties there are 7 Alliance, 2 Green, 1 TUV, 1 PBP, and 3 Independent members.  Finally in London the assembly includes 2 Green and 2 Brexit Alliance members.  In all these cases, the local bodies have managed more representative models of governance.  Why couldn’t we do the same for the House of Lords?

Our most recent general elections have been fought in large part on the basis that you have to vote for the Red or Blue team to block the other side, rather than because you agree with them.  After 10 years of coalition, small majority or even minority government I see no desire for a form of proportional representation for the Commons, and indeed in 2011 we rejected changes to the current system.

Proposal

I propose for the House of Lords to elect members on a proportional system.  I believe this will be more popular for a revising chamber as it would not interfere with the requirement for stable government.  Importantly it would give the opportunity for more minor parties to have national figures, buildout a base, and democratically represent the people.

The new Lords would be elected using something similar to the modified D’Hondt allocation used in London.  London has a mixture of geographical super-constituencies with further members elected from a party list to make the total Assembly Members from each party proportional to the votes cast for that party.  In London a party must win at least 5% of the party list vote in order to win any seats.  That same measure could be kept for regional groupings or a lower national number could be used.  A consequence of this would be sizable groupings for the Green Party and Brexit Party.  You would also likely see a small number of Lords representing the Yorkshire Party, Christian Peoples Alliance, UKIP and even the Independent Group for Change (if you can remember them).  This would be great for democracy.  These parties have support, even when running in almost impossible first past the post elections, why shouldn’t they and others have the opportunity to build a national base?

Differentiation

An elected second chamber then raises at least 3 major questions.

  • How would an elected second chamber differ from the House of Commons?
  • Would it not feel it had its own mandate?
  • How much would it cost?

All three can be tackled by making the role of Lords quite separate from that of the MPs.  The Lords today has 777 members.  A new chamber similar in size to the commons at say 600 members would reduce what we have today, stop individual Lords being too powerful, and allow for a reasonably large grouping of Lords for smaller parties.  A party getting 1% would have ~6 members, a party getting 5% (attainable regularly by the Greens and revised Brexit Party) would have ~30 members.  These groups would provide a professional backbone to these parties, that could start to compete with the 3 main national parties.

600 Lords would be expensive, so I propose we make them part time.  Pay them half of what an MP is on, and reduce their hours accordingly.  A revising chamber needs time to study legislation and debate, but this is not the amount of time needed in the commons.  Have regular hours and sittings, and encourage the Lords to have outside work.  This way they will more closely represent us by working with us.  Have no expectation of constituency work.  MPs have become one part parliamentarian and one part social worker.  We don’t need Lords to undertake the same role.  They can be parliamentarians, working to set regular hours and have part time day jobs around that.

To reflect this legislative role, Lords would not need the expenses of MPs.  No local expenses beyond that to cover a home office, some travel and minimal costs for some public meetings.  Staff can work centrally and be attached to the grouping rather than individual Lords.  Additional specialist knowledge on legislation should also be available much as it is today.  Members would need to be able to claim reasonable expenses for staying in London but with dates fixed in advance these can be kept down and must not include paying for second homes.

I also propose the Lords do copy one idea from the US Senate.  That they be elected on fixed dates and terms, every 6 years with one third elected every two years.  This will ensure they reflect the changing nature of UK politics over time, rather than one snapshot.  It will give Lords time to learn the role and elections to multi member constituencies, with regional top up lists, could be held to coincide with the main local election dates to keep costs down.  Regular elections also keep parties more in touch with their voters and allow small parties opportunities to build support.

Future

These proposals would end much of the cronyism and see a new House of Lords with elected members.  Members focused on parliamentary legislation, members who reflect the electoral wishes of voters and in doing so allow new parties and ideas a chance to grow.  The members would not be overpaid with many having second ‘normal’ part time jobs.  Expenses and overall costs would likely go up but be kept in check, and we would retain the strong government model the House of Commons generally (if not so much recently) delivers.

Main Photo by UK Parliament – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sLZBWcPklk @ 01:06, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56761114