Covid-19 Therapy Blog 3: Mask Mandates II #COVID19 #COVID19THERAPYBLOG #LIBERTARIANISM

This series of posts might serve as a bit of therapy for me and help me work stuff out.

Me, December 2021

Introduction to this series of posts
Link to all posts in this series

Introduction

In my first post on this Covid-19 Therapy Blog, I talked about my Libertarian instincts and why I think mask-wearing should be a personal choice, not something mandated by the State. Here I explore this a bit more (in this short* post).

For your own good?

We let people engage in all sorts of risky behaviour, even behaviour that can harm others. For example, we don’t enforce mask-wearing for those who have a cold or other sicknesses, nor in my opinion should we.

But okay, let’s say for argument’s sake that this virus is sufficiently lethal that we needed to be told to mask up at threat of criminal sanction, the question remains: for how long, and at what cost?

My daughter is three. She has never known a normal world. We used to laugh at the East Asian fetish for the mask. Let’s get sick, let’s build our immune system! That’s what we used to say. But yes, let’s look after our vulnerable so they are not at undue risk (by keeping them at home, for example). This is the way it always was: humane, free, but responsible.

We also used to scorn the niqab and other garments which veil a person’s face and take away their humanity. Yet now those who don’t mask up are seen as scum. Worse, they will be fined or arrested.

My daughter

What effect will it have on my daughter not growing up seeing people’s faces? This thing has gone on for two years. Two years is nothing. But for my daughter, two years is her whole world. I’m thirty-seven. It’s no exaggeration to say that her last two years are equal to my last thirty-six; it’s all she’s ever known. I fear for my beautiful girl and what this normalising of not seeing people’s faces, what this fetishisation for a lack of germs, is doing to her.

*My personal definition of “short” is less than 300 words, maximum; more than that, and a blog posts starts to feel like an essay.

**The Wikipedia page on Libertarianism which I linked you to says this: Libertarianism is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, emphasizing free association, freedom of choice, individualism and voluntary association.

© 2021-2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image taken from https://www.fsb.org.uk/static/351a084c-3d5f-4d75-8dfabfa5f0c5d993/COVID19-Header-Image.jpg

Covid-19 Therapy Blog 2: What Is “Libertarianism”? #Covid19 #Covid19TherapyBlog #Libertarianism

Introduction to this series of posts
Link to all posts in this series

In the first article in this Covid-19 Therapy Blog, I talked briefly about why wearing face masks can be good and why it can be bad. I also mentioned my instincts coming at things from a “libertarian” approach.

Yes, I am a “libertarian”, but what does that even mean? It’s becoming a much-maligned term, especially slandered by those on the left as uncaring fat cat capitalism, but also sometimes by those on the right as “libertinism”.

Given that my libertarian instincts inform most of my thoughts on this current Covid-19 situation, I thought it might be a good idea to attempt a brief definition of what Libertarianism actually is for my readers.

The Wikipedia article which I linked you to in the previous posts starts by summing it up pretty well:

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, emphasizing free association, freedom of choice, individualism and voluntary association.

We believe that respecting individual rights in this way is the only moral way to live. Sadly, when there is a public panic, people often lose their minds, and many unfair and illiberal things become law… Surely, “my body, my choice” still holds, does it not?

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image taken from https://www.fsb.org.uk/static/351a084c-3d5f-4d75-8dfabfa5f0c5d993/COVID19-Header-Image.jpg

Covid-19 Therapy Blog 1: Mask Mandates #Covid19 #MaskMandate

This series of posts might serve as a bit of therapy for me and help me work stuff out.

Introduction

I’m trying not to do too many political posts on this blog anymore, but I feel I want to record some of my thoughts here on a current issue which is vexing me greatly. This series of posts might serve as a bit of therapy for me and help me work stuff out. If it’s a good read for you, too, then all the better.

I will try to keep this series of posts short* and non-polemical. Let’s see if I can resist the urge to rant(!)

Mask Mandates

We can all understand the logic of wearing masks. It more-or-less stops a virus spreading in much the same way that wearing a rubber johnny stops one getting pregnant or getting an STD; it’s not perfect, and it depends on how well you use it, but it is essentially effective.

On the downside, we don’t get exposure to sicknesses which we need to in order to build and maintain a strong immune system. This is an especially big deal for young kids, and being the father of a young child, this is something I am constantly aware of.

Conclusion

As a libertarian**, my feeling is that the wearing of masks should be entirely up to the individual in public spaces and up to businesses / landlords in privately-owned spaces such as shops. A virus that has a low percentage of killing you — and I absolutely do not belittle the many millions of awful deaths that we have suffered, but the fact remains that the percentage is fairly low*** compared to, say, the Black Death**** — I feel should leave the mask-wearing up to us.

My daughter is three. She has never known a world where she can see people’s faces. God knows what psychological effect that will have on her in the long run.

Notes:

*My personal definition of “short” is less than 300 words, maximum; more than that, and a blog posts starts to feel like an essay.

**The Wikipedia page on Libertarianism which I linked you to says this: Libertarianism is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, emphasizing free association, freedom of choice, individualism and voluntary association.

***About 2%; see here.

****30-75%; see here.

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image taken from https://www.fsb.org.uk/static/351a084c-3d5f-4d75-8dfabfa5f0c5d993/COVID19-Header-Image.jpg

Boycott Qatar 2022! @FA #Qatar2022 #BoycottQatar2022 @FIFAcom @FA

Dear Football Association,

I call on you and the England team to boycott the Qatar 2022 world cup if FIFA does not strip Qatar of the tournament.

  • The bidding process has shown to be shambolic and corrupt.
  • Qatar has no infrastructure for this tournament.
  • Qatar has no footballing culture.
  • The tournament will leave no “legacy” for the people of Qatar.
  • Thousands have died so far trying to get Qatar ready for the games.
  • They won the tournament due to the corruption of Sepp Blatter and co.
  • Qatar is itself a dodgy monarchy with little-to-no respect for human rights.

Please, FA, I call on you to not send an England team to the tournament. We’re not going to win anyway, are we?

Please, all the other football associations of the world, do likewise: boycott this travesty of a tournament.

Note: I wrote this blog entry in 2016. I still feel the same way.

© 2016-2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/d/d2/Qatar_2022_FIFA_World_Cup_bid_logo.svg/1200px-Qatar_2022_FIFA_World_Cup_bid_logo.svg.png

Europe is to EU as European is to ?Europan?

I always make the point that the EU and Europe are not same thing, and how I love Europe, but hate the EU. You can disagree with me on whether the EU is something hateworthy or something praiseworthy, but you cannot disagree with me on this pedantic linguistic point, that the European Union, a political project consisting of many European nations, is not the same thing as Europe, a geographical and cultural area. 

Okay, fine, we can distinguish between “the EU” and “Europe”. But what of the adjective? For both it is “European”. This is clearly a defect of the language. And I think this lies at the root of some of the misunderstandings around Brexit as we confusingly mix the terms for these two concepts. Think of the term “Eurosceptic”; this doesn’t mean sceptical of Europe (or even of the euro), but of the EU.

I think we need to distinguish an adjective referring to the EU versus the usual one, “European”, which refers to the cultural-geographic area (namely, the continent itself). Why? Or else we could end up with an “American”-type situation again where English lacks a word like “United Statesian”, which many languages have (e.g. Spanish “estadounidense”).

I suggest “European” (of Europe, for the cultural-geographic area, that is, the continent itself) and “Europan” or “Europian” (of the EU). These words derived from “Europa”. They should be stressed on the second syllable. I sometimes use “E.U.pean” to make the distinction I am making clearer, but I don’t think that that is a good, long-term, non-derisory word.

I prefer “Europan” as it has a more distinct pronunciation to “European” than does “Europian”.

After thought

Incidentally, I’ve long since thought that one day, we will have EU citizens who are not citizens of their own country + the EU (which is what happens now), but citizens only of the EU if they so choose. Look how many British people wished to keep their “European”, i.e., Europan, citizenship after Brexit; it’s not possible as the EU citizenship hinges on your national citizenship. But I don’t see this situation continuing. This makes my Europan/Europian word all the more needed.

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b7/Flag_of_Europe.svg/1200px-Flag_of_Europe.svg.png

 

© Bre-entry #Brexit #Rejoin #FBPE

The UK has finally left the European Union after more than three and a half years of chaos. Whether you agree with Brexit or not, I think we can all agree that it’s good to resolve the issue and move on.

Apart from the additional two year transition period, 2020-2021, that is.

And apart from the people already campaigning for the UK to rejoin.

So this looks like an issue we’ve never be rid of.

With that in mind, “Brexit” means “the British exit from the EU”; I hereby copyright “Bre-entry” and “Brentry”: British (re-)entry into the EU.

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image http://capreform.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Brexit.jpg

 

I’ve Gone Viral on Twitter

 

I’ve gone viral on Twitter. Well, maybe not viral, but as near as viral as I’ve ever gone. Let’s say I got a minor case of the shits if not a full virus. One of my tweets has garnered 539 comments, 1458 retweets, and 3054 likes. This is far more than I’ve ever “achieved” before. It was actually a bit of a thrill seeing the likes tot up in real time, I won’t lie. It was quite a rush; now I get why some people chase likes and retweets like dirty twitterwhores.

Funnily enough, whilst I stand by my comment in the tweet, it’s weird how so many of my (don’t laugh) witty tweets or pithy yet deeply analytical and interesting tweets do not gain traction, but for some reason this one did. Don’t understand it, but I hope I go viral again soon.

[Note: this was back in May, but I’ve had an enforced absence from blogging since then, hence the delay]

© 2019 Bryan A. J. Parry

House of Commons Reform Proposal: Very Short Summary #ElectoralReform #HouseOfCommonsReform #HoCReform

I’ve been writing an essay on possible electoral reform in the UK, but it’s turning into a mini-book. So I’m just going to post up the very short summary of my main conclusions and proposals.

My proposal for how to reform the House of Commons:

  1. Decrease the number of constituencies from 650 to 600.
  2. Ensure all constituencies are almost identical in size so as to make all votes roughly equal (currently, the smallest has 21,769 electors and the largest 110,697).
  3. Following the Jenkins Commission’s Report 1998 (JCR 1998), introduce two kinds of MP; those chosen from single member parliamentary constituencies (like now), and those chosen proportionally from multi-member regional constituencies. This is what happens currently for elections to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the London Assembly.
  4. Following the JCR 1998, only 15-20% of MPs to be multimember; so, 480:120 or 500:100, single member constituency MPs to multimember constituency MPs. This is as opposed to the devolved legislatures which have around 40-45% of members drawn from the multimember regional constituencies.
  5. Very approximately, the country should be divided into around a dozen multimember regional constituencies; this ensures a high level of proportionately, but not so much that politics becomes destabilised.
    1. This could be on similar lines to how Members for the European Parliament are currently elected from the UK so that the constituencies do not all have an equal number of MPs. The benefit is that natural geographic or cultural regions can be treated as constituencies regardless of size, e.g., Northern Ireland.
    2. Alternatively, this could be done as in Wales and Scotland where the regions all elect the same number of members. The disadvantage of this is that either traditional boundaries would have to be disregarded, or some constituencies would have more MPs than their populations would proportionately require.
  6. In the single member constituencies, MPs to be elected on the same basis as the London mayor, on the Supplementary Vote system; voters pick a first and second choice, if no candidate receive more than 50% of first choice votes, then all but the leading two candidates are eliminated and all second choice votes are redistributed to determine the winner.

This series of proposals taken together introduces some proportionality, but not to the point that it destabilises politics (that is, permanent coalitions and collapsing governments). It encourages people to vote for who they really want, as they know their vote really counts in the multimember regional constituencies, and that they can vote for who they want in the single member constituencies without wholly ruining it for the second favourite candidate. Currently, people will often vote Labour to keep out the Tory, or vice versa, when they really want to vote Green (for example). Under this proposed system, they could confidently vote Green in the multimember regional constituency, and then either Labour in the single member constituency or Green first choice and Labour second choice. It also makes it more likely that the MP in the single member constituency will command 50% or more of the electorate.

The only possible downside is that it introduces two kinds of MP. But I say we already have two kinds of MP: we have those in the Government who are thus in the Executive branch of Government, and back benchers who are not in the Government and are thus not part of the Executive. In other words, the MPs who run the country + look after their constituents, and MPs who only look after their constituents. Indeed, the Speaker of the House could himself be considered an altogether different, third type of MP in the current set up.

I hope to publish a more detailed analysis and investigation into reform of the House of Commons soon.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://culturalwednesday.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/House-of-Commons-1024×681.jpg

“But Brexit ISN’T ‘The Will of the People’!” #Brexit #BRINO #WillOfThePeople @Anna_Soubry @StevenEdginton @WestmonsterUK

Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP who stood for election on a 2017 Manifesto which committed to delivering Brexit and who herself in 2017 said “you can’t vote for a Referendum & then renege on delivering the result because you don’t like the result”, has famously reneged. She has done nothing in the last year but attempt to overturn the decision to leave the European Union, most recently voting against her own Government’s position on the recent Customs and Trade Bills by trying to tie the UK into a Customs Union with the EU.

How times change…

But by now, all politics junkies know she’s unprincipled (although I’m not sure to what extent the general public is aware of the extent of her unprincipledness). What has piqued my interest, however, is that now she’s talking absolute rubbish on Twitter, again. Specifically, she’s parroting the oft-repeated, in-vogue line that, actually, the vote to leave the EU wasn’t the will of the people after all! Why? Because whilst it is true that more than half of those who voted did indeed vote to Leave, many people did not vote at all. Some 27.79% of the eligible electorate didn’t bother to vote, in fact. This means that, of the total electorate eligible to vote in the EU Referendum, 34.74% voted for Remain, and only 37.47% voted for Leave — considerably less than 50%!!

Soubry fails logic

However, this is a completely bogus argument. There is always a huge percentage of the electorate who don’t vote. Indeed, as one Twitter user (@AlastairJT) has helpfully pointed out to Ms. Soubry, she herself was elected in 2017 on less than 50% of the electorate; the turn out in her constituency of Broxtowe was 75.0%, of which she achieved 46.8%, giving her a grand total of 35.1% of the electorate — a lower percentage than voted for Brexit.

But actually, the issue is even larger than that. More people voted for Brexit (17.4 million) than for anything else in British history. Moreover, and this is the master stroke I feel, you have to go back to the General Election of 1959 to see the winning party earn a higher percentage of the total electorate than the 37.5% who voted for Brexit. 1959! When Britain was a virtual two party state. And indeed, you have to go back to the 1931 General Election before a party achieved a higher percentage of the turn out than Leave achieved — and that was because the Liberal Party had imploded and split four ways.

If the vote to leave the EU wasn’t “the will of the people”, then nothing is…

As they say in football, “you can only beat the teams that are put in front of you”. That more than a quarter of the population stayed at home does in no way invalidate the result of the EU referendum. If the benchmark for a vote to qualify as the “will of the people” and be so enacted is more than half of the total electorate voting one way, then no General Election since 1959 has been “the will of the people”, and nor was the election of Anna Soubry herself. If the vote to leave the EU wasn’t “the will of the people”, then nothing is.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

Brexit Betrayal: Back From The Brink? #Brexit #BrexitBetrayal #MayMustGo #BRINO

Theresa May’s Chequers plan has been thoroughly amended by Parliament and has been firmly rejected by the EU. Although it’s likely the unamended version would also have been rejected as the Chequers plan tries to separate the four EU freedoms: the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. This is a red line for the EU and they have consistently opposed any such cherry-picking from day one.

On one hand, you have to admire the EU negotiators; from the very beginning, they knew what they wanted, they knew what their red lines were, and they’ve stuck to this. Unlike our lily-livered Prime Minister who herself admits her position has “evolved”, the EU have stuck firmly to their principles. On the other hand, it is increasingly clear to everybody that the EU are simply unwilling to negotiate anything other than continued British membership of the EU in all but name only. Therefore, it is clear that there is literally now no point continuing the negotiations as they are. To think otherwise is to be delusional.

Therefore, we have to reset our minds and pursue one of two options.

One, lay down an offer and tell the EU to take it or we walk without a deal and go to WTO terms.

Two, we take the offer that the EU already made us in March: a regular EU-UK trade deal. Donald Tusk, the EU Council head, said that a free trade deal is the only possible model for EU-UK relations, that we cannot have a “pick and mix” approach to the European single market, and that we could continue to cooperate on security amongst a slew of other issues. Japan just signed a trade deal with the EU itself, and with no loss of sovereignty. Let’s chuck May’s Brexit In Name Only (“BRINO”) con job, and have a free trade deal with the EU. And if the EU aren’t willing to offer us a trade deal which we view as acceptable by the 29th March 2019, it is already clear that negotiating with them is a waste of time: WTO here we come! But this wouldn’t be a “cliff edge” or “crashing out”, as most mainstream news outlets and pro-Remain politicians style it; it would be complete freedom and independence — the very things we voted for on the 23rd June 2016.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/1/590x/Theresa-May-and-money-around-city-of-London-721875.jpg