Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Libertarianism in Harry Potter

The fifth movie is one of my favorites because it portrayed a lot of libertarian leaning ideas. Mises did explain, as I have said in my post about Fringe, that it is expected for statist ideologies to be very prevalent in literature and that's why I get really ecstatic when I see ideas about the benefits of less government in mainstream media.

voldemort hitler
Voldemort addressing the Death Eaters

He who must not be named wants a single-party state and wants to achieve this through violent means. And just as the Nazis were faithful to their Fuhrer, the Death Eaters will do anything that their Dark Lord commands.

dolores umbridge
Dolores Umbridge

Dolores Umbridge represents a bureaucrat who wants to impose regulations that is "for the welfare of the students". But, as always, there were unintended and evil consequences even when bureaucrats have the most noble of intentions. She imposed restrictive regulations on the curriculum, prohibited many "harmful" things, and after all that we saw how dangerous it can be to give power to an appointed bureaucrat (yes, the Ministry of Magic merely appointed her, there was no consent from the people at all).

The fact remains: Hogwarts was doing fine, students were safer, and education was better when it was free from bureaucratic control and regulations. I love the part when the wall was already so full of ridiculous regulations but the thing is that's not even an exaggeration because that's the kind of power we are giving appointed bureaucrats not just in education but many other sectors.

diagonalley free market
Diagon Alley symbolizes the free-market

Diagon Alley is a place where people can voluntarily exchange and trade with each other. Government intervention is probably so minimal or perhaps even non-existent. I don't think there's a lot of red tapes or requirements or unnecessary permits to start up a business there. The Weasley twins were easily able to start their own magic hobby shop place easily. Real prices arise, competition encourages innovation, and people are able to find the best ways of serving one another.

Sadly though, she's a left-wing socialist J.K. Rowling donated 1 million pounds to the Labour Party and is a good friend of Gordon Brown and even praised him in an essay in TIME magazine. She's also an advocate of a welfare state and highly praises their NHS.

I think this just proves that there's a libertarian inside all of us even people who consider themselves socialists. There are just so many libertarian-leaning ideas that are reflected in the whole Harry Potter series. But once again, I go back to how Mises explained to me that even intellectuals get misguided with all the misinterpretations of free market or smaller government.

But no matter how much of a socialist J.K Rowling thinks she is, her Harry Potter series is a brilliant tale of the struggle of individuals against a coercive state.

Opening sequence of the libertarian version of Harry Potter:

See Also:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why not be as passionate in fighting for transparency?

So many activists are passionately advocating for so many new government programs and roles without thinking of the spending and corruption involved. No matter how noble the idea is, it will be futile if there is no transparency. Suppliers (cronies) will be favored, taxpayer's money will be stolen, and the only growth and progress will be in our debt.
government spending
Photo taken from 24 types of Authoritarian

Kulang kasi sa pondo (budget is not enough). But then do we really know how much they are spending? Do we really know where the money is going?

Not so long ago, our congress decided to subsidize farmers and give them free fertilizer (at first glance it sounds like a good idea, right?). But then what happened? Billions were stolen, bureaucrats got new cars and houses, and now no one's even talking about it anymore. The same thing with the ZTE scandal thing. Our noble senators decided that Hayden Kho was a more important issue.

A few days ago, I saw a red plate Pajero being used for personal grocery matters. May I remind you, for every single red plate car you see: the purchase, maintenance, and fuel consumption is a burden to the taxpayer. It should be legislated that citizens have the right to slap bureaucrats using red plate cars for their own personal use.

czech president stealing pen
Czech Republic President was caught stealing a pen

Yes, a pen. I think this is an important value we should have. We must be extremely critical of everything that bureaucrats do. Every single purchase of the government from even the cheapest paper clip must be scrutinized. Remember that governments don't have their own money. They acquire their budget through coercive taxation, inflation, and "foreign aid" (see also: Ron Paul's interview about how US taxpayer's money was funding Mubarak's authoritarian government http://youtu.be/Z9D7W7rD1R0).

In some countries, politicians will resign when faced with scandals. Here in our country, they don't have that kind of dignity at all. People even decided to elect Gloria Arroyo in congress. That's insane. This roots from our lack of wariness in the government. This wariness is a value we should all have.

There's just so many topics I don't want to talk about due to PR concerns. So instead, I'll just talk about the importance of being a fiscal conservative. Didn't we already give the DOH money we called "family planning fund"? And now some are so passionate about giving them billions more? And so I go back to my question: why not be just as passionate in fighting for transparency first?

If you liked this article you might also like:
1. David Cameron on Technology and Transparency
2. Why is the Internet Slow in the Philippines
3. The Government's Spirit of Christmas

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Top Gear Middle East Episode—some sleepless reflections

Most of you, those who read my blogs, probably know that I have a house in Laguna where I have no internet or cable. Luckily, I now have my loveable Macbook Pro to keep me company. My previous laptop was way too big to be portable. The best plan would have been to have one of those usb internet connection things. Since I didn’t have that, I figured buying a DVD of Top Gear, one of my favorite shows so that it could perhaps help me sleep or something. Little did I know that this plan would backfire because series 16 is probably one of their most entertaining seasons.

The Top Gear hosts in the desert of Syria where they are contemplating how they will be able to cross into the borders of Israel

Aside from being so entertained by many of the funny scenes in this series, I was also inspired to write about so many things. In episode 2, for instance, the hosts were challenged to go from Iraq to Bethlehem and had to go through so many strict borders with a lot of political issues and conflicts. Some were ridiculous, really, such as not being allowed into Iran because they are part of BBC or Israel not allowing anyone from Syria into their country.

This is just so thought provoking, you know. It touches on so many topics and concepts like government coercion and monopoly of force, wars sponsored by alliances of different States, unnecessarily violent disagreements in religions and philosophies, and so many other challenges that face the human condition. I don’t even have the grasp or knowledge of Middle East history to somehow justifiably put into words all these thoughts in my head. There’s just hundreds of years of unrest and hostility between so many nations, cultures, and groups of people.

We see these in the news. We watch statesmen and scholars debate about foreign policy. We read about it online (much like you are doing now). But we’re just so disconnected from it and in a way thankful, I guess, that we’re not directly affected by these wars and disagreements.

I’ve written about a restaurant before called Conflict Kitchen that serves cuisines from nations that the Americans are in conflict with. One time I also talked about the Libyan civil war. The bottom line here though is that people are killing each other and the sad part is that most of the time those who are innocent and want nothing to do with it become collateral damage.

As I have said I don’t have the grasp to talk about what should be done or what is right or wrong about the different policies and actions of States and individuals. All I can do is talk about how much I appreciate being in my room right now, writing and expressing myself—a luxury that obviously many people in the world don’t have.

I actually just got home from 711 where I bought water and other random supplies. Thinking about all these wars make me feel that my act of purchasing and trading (although not entirely free because of taxes and gov’t regulations) with 711 is a luxury or privilege. And I do believe that being able to trade voluntarily and peacefully creates an environment where war or violence isn’t necessary.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

You know that famous hierarchy of needs by Maslow? I feel like I have sufficient stuff in all parts of my triangle that I have room for self-actualizaton. It does make a lot of sense. I am able to write right now about these thoughts in my head because I have no intense worries regarding food, shelter, and security; my problems on love/belonging or esteem bother me but they are objectively petty.

But you see, the government is not the solution to make these luxuries attainable to all, no matter what good intentions or labels you attach to it. The fact still remains: the most practical, ethical, and viable solution to the world’s problems is by adhering to The Philosophy of Liberty.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Democracy Forum in DLSU

Saving Asian Democracy Can the Philippines Lead the Way?

Your resident blogger has decided to do something active, you know, go out of the house and try to see what's going on or what's going on in people's minds. It's a shame I missed out on the other forums that seemed more interesting and more related to my advocacies. Before I go on, during the open forum, questions regarding Singapore was raised and I would just like to say that I've already cleared that up in a previous article I wrote: The Singapore Argument—is it really good governance that made them prosperous?

speakers at the democracy forum
The speakers and some random people after the event

rainer adam
The first speaker was Dr. Rainer Adam of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty. He gave some sort of index of economic freedoms, rule of law, and other ratings of different countries in Asia. Reminded me about my post on Property Rights and Economic Freedom. To his left is Nonoy Oplas, head of Minimal Government Thinkers, Inc.

neric acosta
Neric Acosta, hmm. He's a good public speaker, I can tell you that. Just the kind of charismatic grandstanding and rhetoric that makes one an appealing politician or bureaucrat. It's really interesting how people use the word "liberal" nowadays. He talked about the recent struggles with dictatorships and about this guy in a crowd that had a sign that says "I am a man". It is very striking and thought-provoking. I think deconstructing the concepts behind the message further will lead you to the Philosophy of Liberty.

maria ressa
The very impressive Maria Ressa
and to my left Adrienne Nicole Bernal (thanks for tagging along)

I actually have had a chance to listen to her speak before during the Media Congress. She talked about crowd wisdom and the tipping point. She also discussed how new social media has really changed the way information is disseminated. She's from Princeton, worked for CNN, was head of ABS-CBN, and now she's in Singapore writing about terrorism.

I have this article post here about David Cameron's TED talk where he explains how we can use technologies like social media and others to make the government more open and transparent thus preventing corruption and wasteful expenditures. Every cent spent becomes transparent. Every project becomes available to competing firms and not just to those who have connections with bureaucrats.
free food
Now, of course, we go to the real reason why I was there. Yes, I was there for the free food (there ain't no such thing!). Great food provided by the FNF people. If forums are always like this, surely I'll be going to a lot more. Seriously, there was a lot of food!

free food
The buffalo wings was heavenly. It had this Chinese taste to it. Think of it as buffalo wings with a hint of hoisin sauce. It was really yummy and I got a lot. During the eating time, got a chance to talk with Nonoy Oplas about IPR (Intellectual Property Rights). His points are very convincing, actually. I mean, ideas are very powerful. Also, as a writer and musician, I want my output to be my property.

So to answer the question: Can the Philippines lead the way? Yes we can. But first you all must read this blog religiously and adhere to all my doctrines. Eventually peace and prosperity will be inevitable. For every policy dilemma you have just ask these four words: What Would Harry Do?

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