Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Limits of the State

You may never have noticed, but Switzerland doesn't have a President. Or a Chancellor. In fact, the Swiss Head of State is, collectively, the seven-person Federal Council. It's worked this way since 1848, and the seven between them run just about everything a central State should run. The Swiss people make sure the central State doesn't get too ambitious by limiting the amount of tax-take they can spend - about 30%. The other 70% is determined and managed locally.

You see, there's no causative link between a nation's level of taxation and the size and power of the central State, a fact that bypasses Polly Toynbee completely. Shocked by the damage that Snowden's revelations may do to the image of the benign and all-powerful central State, Lady Toynbee leaps to the defence of the Megastate. "Labour needs to hymn the good the state does and the civilising value of what taxes buy – health, education, safety, proud public spaces. All the things that people value most." Toynbee pompously proclaims, blind to the reality that the Swiss enjoy better health, education, safety and higher quality public spaces than we do, with a much much smaller central State and highly constrained taxation.

People have a perfect right to grant their governments the power to snoop on their emails, browsers and tweets - but this must be a choice openly made, with the power always to withdraw or reverse the consent. Such consent has been noticeably absent in this case.


john miller said...

All Communists are fantasists, although Toynbee does excel in this area.

Close to home, look at any Scottish inner city areas that have been controlled by Labour for generations.

Further afield, look at all the old failed Communist states.

Then read what Toynbee writes.

right_writes said...

I re-used the following quote elsewhere in the last week... But what is the point of quoting one of the best commentators in the western world's history, if one doesn't use it as often as one can?

This is from a wise old bugger... a wise old bugger from when he was 19 until his death over 70 years later...

"No socialist system can be established without a political police. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance."

...Winston Churchill, when out campaigning during his disastrous 1945 general election.

He wasn't always right, but he frequently was, here being one such occasion...

It's been downhill ever since.

I am a keen walker, and whenever I walk in London, which I love, the closer I get to the heart of the beast the more uncomfortable it has become... almost as if every breath is being monitored, by some faceless government flunky.

right_writes said...

Having read your Guardian link Raedwald, I have to laugh at Totnbee's fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between free markets and state rigged corporate markets.

The free market tends not to lead to the massive worldwide, frequently corrupt and certainly over-bureaucratic and turgid corporations that we see today.

The companies that the mad Toynbee is railing against are the creations of the very state that she and her lefty professor mate (Mariana Mazzucato, take a gander at her CV, she is worse than Toynbee, never done a day's work, or had an original thought), are trumpeting.

The state uses them to build their own power, and those corporations use the state to overwhelm the free market and douse all forms of originality or genuine private enterprise.

Indeed, all of the successful inventions and institutions that she mentions, the internet etc., are in fact the result of the musings of a pipe-smoking bloke, pottering in his garden shed.

They are definitely not something that emerges from the auspices of some twatty professor or lefty journalist, and certainly not from any idiotic box ticking bureaucrat or good for nothing avaricious politician.

Anonymous said...


Can't fault you on anything there - well said x 1 billion.

And Radders - Switzerland ain't perfect by a long shot but by God from where we look from - it is heaven on earth.

Anonymous said...

An off-duty soldier is slaughtered, bombs go off at the Boston marathon and the first question asked is: why isn't anyone who ever expressed an extreme view under 24-hour watch? [Polly Toynbee]

My first question would be why did we import those who are alien and hostile to us? Imagine if, during the 'Cold War', Russians had been allowed free entry and then, as the bombs went off in the streets, our masters had told us "this isn't the real communism"

anon 2 said...

Thank you for another excellent post, Raedwald.

And, Oh dear me, the images these socialists subvert from Christianity! This baneful bat proposes that we should "hymn the good" performed by the state ... never recognising, of course, that the state is performing the polar opposite of Good.

'Tis a Looking Glass World, Dina.......

Anonymous said...

Even The Swiss are finding it difficult to come to terms with and contain the rise of cultural enrichment.


Anonymous said...

Direct democracy of the Swiss variety gives all power to Swiss citizens. All policies, big or small, can be subject to a referendum. The decision to hold one also rests with the Swiss. Any change in taxes must be submitted to the people. No Ifs, no Buts.  Taxes raised for a specific reason have to spent for that reason. For instance, road taxes have to be spent in transport related issues. Politicians do not have the freedom to play funny games with our money for pet projects, then complain that essential tasks could not be done due to lack of money, therefore taxes have to be raised. 

One of the interesting fallouts of Direct democracy is that the Swiss vote heavily in referenda on specific policies, but hardly bother to turn out when electing MPs for parliament. This has been shown in poll after poll. When one thinks about it, it is obvious why. All policies are in the hands of the people. Politicians are merely decoration, they do what they have been told to do by law – in reality,  it is the civil service that implements the law as defined by the people, period.  Elected politicians are there to monitor the civil service to make sure that they are doing what the people voted for - they are the watchdogs  of the people. 


Anonymous said...

The real problem is too much public money in the hands of the few. This leads not only to profligacy of government spending, leading the nation to debt, which the tax payer has to cover, but also to a culture of dependency in a group of people, who then riot and loot, as they have no stake in the nation.

In short, Big Government has been a disaster for the nation's finances, its economy, and the resilience of its people.

We need to think of replacing Big government with the sort of democracy in Switzerland. In Switzerland, the major part of tax revenue is raised and spent at the canton level. At each level - parish, canton and federal level, the people have the final say on all matters via referendums. In Britain, by contrast, we have no such powers, thus the government can raise tax for any reason it thinks it can get away with, and then spends for whatever it thinks will get it re-elected or make it popular.

We have become a subject nation.

And just in case the Swiss elite get any ideas of using armed police or the armed forces, the citizenry is equipped with state of the art weaponry, which they keep at home. In fact, Swiss citizens are the armed forces.

Such a state of affairs requires a type of people who have trust in each other, belonging in tradition and mores, to a common community. Doesn't work with Multicultism.


Anonymous said...

Ben wrote: Even The Swiss are finding it difficult to come to terms with and contain the rise of cultural enrichment.

You are right. Hence a referendum law that was passed just last week, limiting the number of immigrants, as well making citizenship even more difficult (which it was anyway).