A Second Open Letter to my MP on COVID


I sent this to “my” MP, Jeremy Hunt, earlier today.

Dear Mr Hunt,

When I wrote to you about five weeks ago, the main subject of my letter was de-carbonization of transport. However, I also drew your attention to an article I had had published on the COVID lockdowns, and told you that I had found them to be “way over the top compared to what was actually necessary.”

I have very recently published another article on the subject of COVID – here: https://misesuk.org/2020/09/20/covid-19-is-the-virus-weakening/. The figures show that, over the course of the last three months or so, the lethality of the virus in the UK (as measured by number of deaths divided by number of new cases as at 14 days beforehand) has gone down by a factor of around 60. This means that the virus is now considerably less dangerous than, for example, ’flu. And so, all lockdown measures ought to be released as soon as possible.

And yet, there is now serious talk of a re-lockdown at national level! For “two weeks.” We know from last time round what that means; we were told it would be three weeks, and now it’s been six months. Moreover, it feels like we are locked down harder than at any previous stage. And they want to make it longer, and worse!

The people-haters, that want to lock down as hard as possible for as long as possible and don’t care a damn about how much pain they cause to people, seem to be winning inside your party and others. And the arbitrary and extreme fines they are demanding are a sign of a rapacious monster that has lost all control over itself. I remind you of Edmund Burke’s aphorism that “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.” And yet, these aren’t even bad laws – they are simply decrees of a small cadre! That isn’t the rule of law. That isn’t England. Moreover, in a democracy, government is supposed to be on the side of the people. It must never do anything which causes harm to those people without full and rigorous justification, which will stand up to scrutiny by objectively minded people (including me).

A national re-lockdown, in my opinion, would result in a meltdown in the public mood. As to myself, I have already lost all respect for the parliament as a whole, and for the great majority of those in it. Such a move would turn my disrespect into contempt and hatred, or worse.

So, I ask you immediately to add your voice in parliament to those who say “No” to any new lockdowns, and to demand that the public be provided with full, objective justification of every one of the measures that are already in place. Moreover, I would ask you, please, to use your seniority and your relevant expertise to metaphorically box the ears of those that are doing these things to us.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Lock

COVID-19: Is the Virus Weakening?


COVID-19: Is the Virus Weakening?

By Neil Lock

 

This is another of my articles on the numbers relating to the COVID epidemic world-wide.  It follows on from the “Lock-downs or Cock-ups?” article, here: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/08/11/covid-19-lock-downs-or-cock-ups/. This time, I’ll focus on the question: what proportion of confirmed new cases, at each stage of the epidemic, are actually leading to deaths? That ratio ought to be a major factor in any rational consideration of when to release lockdowns (or not); because it hugely affects the load on health care systems. Avoiding health system overload, so we were assured at the beginning of the epidemic, was the only reason for going into lockdown – for three weeks. (Cough).

Read more

Why we are Where we Are – Part Two


Why we are Where we Are – Part Two

By Duncan Whitmore

In Part One of this two-part series of essays we explained how events in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries shifted Western society from a preponderance of the “economic means” to the “political means” characterised by a transition away from the tendencies on the right hand side of the following table to those on the left hand side:

Fig. A

In this essay, we will explore the moral and cultural gulfs that are now swallowing Western society (addressing the puzzling question of why the right has been so defenceless against it), before examining how Western liberal democratic polity over the past thirty years has produced the situation in which we find ourselves today. Read more

Why we are Where we are – Part One


Why we are Where we are – Part One 

By Duncan Whitmore

Margaret Thatcher is supposed to have once said that “the facts of life are conservative”. An equivalent for libertarians is “the facts of life are Austrian”. We may well dispute the justice, inevitability or even desirability of the libertarian ethic of non-aggression, but one cannot escape the fact that the corpus of economic law, derived from the self-evident proposition that individuals act, is undeniably true. So however much you may yearn for some form of centralised economic planning or state management to abolish all “exploitation” before building castles in the land of milk and honey, this economic law cannot be defied for ever and, eventually, reality must come back to bite you on the arse. Amongst the myopia of COVID-19 and the furore of the culture war, a broader perspective of the era we are living through – and probably have been living through since 2008 at the latest – will reveal a culminating fight between a massive reassertion of economic law on the one hand and increasing attempts to continue the defiance on the other.

This essay, the first of two parts, will explore the paths that have been taken prior to our arrival at the political, economic and social situation in which we find ourselves in the early twenty-first century. In Part Two we will look specifically at the ongoing culture war before examining the consequences of all of these dynamics. From this, readers may be able to see how year’s this calamities – barely imaginable just six or seven months ago – have resulted from the choices that have been made in the past. Read more

Universal Basic Income: Some Political and Economic Advantages


Universal Basic Income:
Some Political and Economic Advantages

Sean Gabb
16th August 2020

My vision of Utopia has remained constant since I was thirteen. It is a nation of free citizens, keeping jealous watch over a state strong enough to defend the borders and keep a minimal internal peace, but restricted from doing anything else. Sadly, this vision is further out of reach today than when I was thirteen. The modern British State is a vastly extended despotism, limited only by incompetence and corruption. It is also a despotism to which the majority of people, with whatever success and at whatever overall cost, look for immediate benefits. Libertarians and conservatives may dream of a coup in which the present order of things will be torn apart and replaced with something more natural and sustainable. But we might more usefully dream of winning the Lottery or being offered three wishes by a fairy. Any scheme of change requires the acceptance that, even if it can somehow be captured, the British State cannot in the short and medium term be minimised. Read more

Liberty and the Swedish Example


Liberty and the Swedish Example

By Duncan Whitmore

“Many are irresistibly attracted to liberty as an intellectual system or as an aesthetic goal, but liberty remains for them a purely intellectual parlor game, totally divorced from what they consider the ‘real’ activities of their daily lives. Others are motivated to remain libertarians solely from their anticipation of their own personal financial profit […] The consequence of the narrow and myopic vision of both the gamester and the would-be profit maker is that neither group has the slightest interest in the work of building a libertarian movement. And yet it is only through building such a movement that liberty may ultimately be achieved.”

                  –  Murray N Rothbard1

In the five decades or so since these words were written, we have been able to come to a more precise conception of what the “libertarian movement” should be and what it should do. As we have explained before, efforts to bring about a world in which a greater degree of freedom prevails are unlikely to be successful if we rely solely on the promotion of abstract concepts (such as “non-aggression”) – indeed, it is difficult to think of a more insipid rallying cry than “leave people alone”. Although there are particular moral propositions and personal qualities that are likely requirements for the sustenance of any free society, freedom is synonymous with self-determination – that different individuals, families, communities and nations will pursue their own goals based upon their own values. It is these varying pursuits themselves (embedded in the culture, custom and traditions of differing peoples throughout the world) which are likely to be the motivating factor, with liberty being the vehicle for their achievement rather than the end itself. Indeed, when we look to the inspirations that motivated some of the greatest authors, poets, artists and composers, they often chose to capture the essence of their homelands in their works: the “Sceptred Isle” speech of John of Gaunt in Shakespeare’s Richard II; Blake’s Jerusalem; Monet’s Sunrise; Smetana’s Má Vlast; Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony, to name but a few. In contrast, we might be waiting a very long time for “A Non-Aggression Symphony” or the “Ballad of Private Property”. Or, to give a sporting metaphor, we can look upon liberty as the pitch, but not the game. The turf needs to be laid and the grass watered and mown, but the motivation to do these things is the thrill of the match that will be played. Read more

An Open Letter to my MP about Climate Change and De-Carbonizing Transport


I have just sent an e-mail to my Member of Parliament (Jeremy Hunt) regarding the submission I made two weeks ago in response to the UK government’s consultation on “de-carbonizing transport”.

Here is the covering e-mail, which also draws his attention to a long, complex article I have written on lockdown actions taken against the COVID-19 virus, and how appropriate and effective they have been.

Dear Mr Hunt,

Please find attached, for your consideration as my MP, two documents on the subject of climate change and the UK government’s plans to “de-carbonize” transport. The first is a two-page letter, with a number of questions on these matters, whose relevance I very much hope you will appreciate. The second is a 56-page PDF, which I submitted two weeks ago as my response to the recent government “consultation” on these matters.

While writing, I would also like to take the opportunity to give you a link to an article I have recently written and published on the subject of lockdowns against the COVID-19 virus. The article is here: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/08/11/covid-19-lock-downs-or-cock-ups/.

This is, of course, an area in which as a former health secretary you have almost unrivalled expertise. My researches have led me towards the conclusion that the lockdowns, as implemented in the UK (and many other countries), have been way over the top compared to what was actually necessary. I realize you might personally disagree; but I am sure you will be aware that the longer all this stuff goes on, the less inclined ordinary people will be to give the government the benefit of the doubt.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Lock

And here is the two-page letter, with the questions:

<Address redacted>

Jeremy Hunt MP

(South West Surrey)

House of Commons

Westminster

London

SW1A 0AA

 

13 August 2020

 

Dear Mr Hunt

 

Climate Change and De-Carbonizing Transport

 

Twelve years ago, on July 14th, 2008, I wrote you a nine-page letter urging you find out the facts regarding climate change. And, having done so, to take the strongest possible stand against the UK’s Climate Change Bill. You never bothered even to acknowledge my letter, let alone reply to it. Even though I prompted you about it when you phoned me to solicit my vote the day before the 2010 election. I was, to say the least, disappointed in you.

Now, twelve years later, here we are again. But things have moved on, since you voted for that dreadful bill on that snowy night in October 2008.

Two weeks ago, I submitted a response to the government’s recent consultation on “de-carbonizing transport.” It is a 56-page PDF, and I include it in the attachments to my e-mail. I would ask you please, Mr Hunt, to read what I have to say, and to give full consideration to it. You are, after all, my one and only representative in a parliament, many of whose acts over the last year and more I consider to have gone well beyond the bounds of reasonable behaviour. By its actions the parliament has, as far as I am concerned, brought itself into disrepute. And as a result, I have now lost all respect for it.

I would like to know your views on some of the issues I raise in my document. But I won’t expect you to dig into any of the scientific detail. Your liberal-arts education, and your many years of experience with government bureaucracy, should be sufficient for you to be able to address my questions.

  1. Do you agree with the quote from Bertrand Russell, with which I begin my Preface?
  2. Would you agree that government exists to serve the people, not to rule over them against their interests?
  3. Do you agree with me when I say: “you should expect government always to be reasonable towards the people it governs?”
  4. Do you agree with me when I say that MPs: “ought always to support the interests of the people they represent against encroachment by other political interests. For example, MPs in rural areas ought to champion the car as the best means of transport for people in their areas, even when it is pooh-poohed and threatened by the big-city slickers.”
  5. Would you agree that government, and those whom it funds, should always behave with honesty, integrity and good faith towards the public?
  6. Would you agree that government must never make costly commitments on behalf of the governed without rigorous justification?
  7. Would you agree that, in a case such as the allegations that human emissions of carbon dioxide are leading to catastrophic climate change, the burden of proof should always be on the accusers to substantiate their case beyond reasonable doubt?
  8. Would you agree that the UK Interdepartmental Liaison Group on Risk Assessment’s 2002 re-formulation of the precautionary principle, which I link to from my document as reference [5], was dishonest and done in bad faith? Would you agree that it had the effect, in matters such as the “climate change” allegations, of negating the presumption of innocence, inverting the burden of proof, and requiring the accused to prove a negative?
  9. Do you think that the BBC likening allowing climate change skeptics to speak to “letting someone deny last week’s football scores” violated their own guidelines on impartiality?
  10. Would you agree that the UK government’s 2009 abandonment of the social cost approach to valuing carbon dioxide emissions when considering policies, which I link to from my document as reference [6], was dishonest and done in bad faith?
  11. Do you think that the UK government’s 2010 “Climategate” inquiries were entirely honest and done in good faith?
  12. Would you agree that Extinction Rebellion is an extremist organization, and should never have been allowed to influence UK government policy?
  13. Do you think that the Committee for Climate Change is an independent, impartial body?
  14. Do you agree with me that setting arbitrary collective targets and limits on what people may do, for example “carbon budgets,” is unjust and tyrannical?
  15. Do you think that the UK government’s plans for implementing “zero carbon,” their costs, and the consequences to the people affected by them, have been fully thought through?
  16. Would you agree that the arrogant tone of the “setting the challenge” document, in particular in its use of words and phrases like “interventions,” “behaviour change” and “accelerating modal shift,” is inappropriate to the way in which a democratic government ought to treat its people?
  17. Would you agree with me when I say: “The UK government must commission a thorough, independent, scrupulously honest, unbiased audit of its own conduct, and the conduct of those it funded, in environmental matters over the period since 1970?”
  18. And finally, if you had known in 2008 that the policies resulting from the climate change agenda would eventually have such large negative consequences for the standard and quality of living of your constituents, would you have voted for the climate change bill?

I have put my case, as fully and eloquently as I can, in my PDF document. I hope that you will feel able to take Bertrand Russell’s sage advice, and seek the facts of the matter – just as I asked you to, twelve years ago. When you have done so, I think you will find that most, if not all, of my concerns on this matter are justified. What you decide to do then will, of course, be up to you.

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Neil Lock

P.S. I will publish this letter as “An Open Letter to my MP about Climate Change and De-Carbonizing Transport” on my own small blog http://www.honestcommonsense.co.uk/, and on another blog where I am an author. I will publish your reply on my own blog when I receive it.

Enclosure: “Response to Consultation on ‘De-Carbonizing Transport’ in the UK,” July 31st, 2020.

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