A blog by Patrick Crozier

September 29, 2002

Why do poor people breed?
Patrick Crozier

This is something of a work in progress. I will try to update it next time I'm awake but in the meantime I would appreciate comments on what is already here.

This came out of a discussion I had at Brian's last Last Friday. I can't remember how we got on to the subject but the reasoning went as follows:

We know that poor people have more children. We know this because the populations of poorer countries are rapidly expanding while here in the West they are almost at a standstill.

But poor people are in the worst possible position to have children. They don't have any money. Healthcare, sanitation etc tend to be ropey. They die young so have less opportunity to breed. So, why do they?

Because they can't get contraception? I am doubtful about this one. It assumes that poor people don't want children. Is that really the case?

Because sex is fun and the entertainment alternatives are limited? So going down the pub is better than having sex with someone you fancy? I don't think so.

Those were a couple of the reasons put forward.

Maybe, we are looking at this question from the wrong angle. The assumption is that it is poor people who are aberrant. But maybe, it is the rich West who are the odd ones out. Let's face it throughout history people bred like rabbits. OK, so the survival rates were low but they still bred. Our current generation is almost unique in having a low birthrate. Why is that?

I think it is an important question. Negative birthrates are a quick way to extermination. As things currently stand unless immigrants take up the torch our civilisation is doomed.

Is it female emancipation? I do hope not.

Let me propose a new idea.

Comparative costs. In the last 100 years the costs of having children have massively increased while the costs of doing other things have plummeted.

On the family side the cost of providing a roof has gone up under the burden of planning regulations. Meanwhile, children are prevented for longer from making a contribution to the family budget.

On the non-family side a 100 years ago travelling to the next town would have been something you thought twice about. But now a whole generation have taken advantage of Round-the-World tickets. Lots of other things, from food to clothes to music have collapsed in price.

September 26, 2002

Up with Monarchy, down with Democracy
Patrick Crozier

There's a bit of a kerfuffle here in the UK about Prince Charles. Apparently, he has opinions of his own and has been expressing them in letters to ministers. Queue outrage from the usual suspects which goes something along the lines of "He's not elected how dare he meddle in politics."

The implication is clear: only democratically-elected politicians have a right to make laws.

First: no they don't. Our liberties are innate. They are ours by virtue of being alive. No one but no one has the right to take them away. They just think they do.

Second. Democracy doesn't work. It is difficult to put a date on when the UK became a democracy - indeed even now the vote is denied the under 18s, prisoners, the insane, members of the House of Lords and members of the royal family - but ever since the franchise began to be extended in the 1830s the British have seen a steady erosion of their liberties.

It is not difficult to see why. I think it was Thomas Carlyle who said something along the lines of "I doubt the collective wisdom of the individually stupid." He might have said a whole load more if he had been aware of public choice theory and the way that democracy legitimises legalised theft.

Yes, I actually said that. Democracy doesn't work. It may indeed be the guiding principle of our constitution. It may indeed be something we are encouraged to honour. Phrases such as "freedom and democracy" spring to mind. But it doesn't alter the fact. It doesn't work and it has to go.

So, what should we replace it with? Funny you should ask that but we could do a lot worse than read the works of Montesquieu and especially his masterpiece "The Spirit of the Laws".

Montesquieu was a French aristocrat who believed in liberty. He asked himself two questions (this was in about 1750, I think): Which country on earth is most free and what are the guiding principles of its constitution? Following an entirely empirical approach and after exhaustive (at least exhaustive on the part of his researchers) he came up with the country: Britain. He then started to look at its constitutional principles.

The first thing he found was that power was dispersed. The monarch had the power of appointment but could not raise taxes or make laws without the agreement of Parliament. The judiciary, although appointed by the monarch could not be sacked by him. So, their independence was guaranteed.

The second thing he found was that each element of the constitution was appointed in a different way: the Monarch and the House of Lords by birth, the House of Commons by (non-democratic) election and the Judiciary by appointment. This he believed was vital in making sure one could not dominate the other and hence that a tyrant could not seize power.

When the framers of the US constitution did their work they did little more than codify the British constitution of the day replacing the monarch with an elected President. This was their mistake.

Meanwhile in Britain we have had two hundred years of expanding democracy and an expanding state. Democracy has usurped power in Britain to the extent that to all intents and purposes we live in an elected dictatorship.

And this is where Prince Charles comes in. The monarch, in the form of his mother, is the last vestige of the balanced system. She still has (theoretically at least) some pretty impressive powers. She can dissolve parliament, appoint ministers and judges, declare war, negotiate treaties and block legislation. It is time that the monarch started using them and, failing that, it is absolutely vital that the monarch does not allow those powers to be removed.

I believe that given the right sort of intellectual support the monarch could very easily start regaining some of her/his powers. Elections themselves are usually fought over a very small number of issues. But the results of those elections are used to smuggle in no end of laws and taxes that no one voted for. A monarch would be entirely within his rights to say: "No one voted for that EU treaty, or ID cards, or compulsory metrication. If you want to get it past me, Matey, you'll have to fight an election. In the meantime concentrate on what you got elected for."

Of course, this doesn't mean that bad laws won't get passed. And it certainly isn't a shortcut to freedom. But it makes it less likely that those laws will be passed.

Monarchy, has been brought into disrepute over the last two and a half centuries. But as Hans-Hermann Hoppe (I think) has pointed out there are many advantages to a monarchy. The principle one is that a monarch is around for a long time and that (typically, at least) he wants to hand over something of value to his son.

Frankly, the history of a powerful (but not absolute) monarchy is far more impressive than a powerful democracy.

September 09, 2002

Suspension of service
Patrick Crozier

This is to let you know that CrozierVision is being indefinitely suspended. The reason is time. I am planning on a new career and for at least the next 6 months more or less my every waking moment will be dedicated to it. This spells curtains for CrozierVision as it is something that has to be updated on a daily basis. Neither does it augur particularly well for UK Transport or This Blog has No Title. I will probably only be writing for them when I am bursting with something to say and totally bored with my studies.

Having said that I think CrozierVision or something like it does have a future. CrozierVision was supposed to be a digest blog first and a pretend TV channel only second. In recent chats with fellow bloggers it was interesting to note that people either like the digest part, or the TV channel part but rarely both.

I think the Blogosphere needs digest blogs. It needs that one blog you can go to everyday where you know you will find new material and links through to interesting articles. It would also be extremely useful for non-regular bloggers eg me who would prefer to concentrate on quality rather than frequency. But if you are going to have such a blog then either you must follow a multi-member approach so that it is constantly being updated, or you need to make it full-time - which means money which is something that no one in the Blogosphere seems to have. There is also the nagging doubt that there were at one time five Blogwatches which, I understand, have now all closed down. Why was that I wonder?

As far as the TV station goes I think that could be a scream - as David Carr today illustrates. But that requires a rather different skill set from the one required to digest which suggests to me that there would be a natural split between the two formats.