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Le Mont de Sisyphe
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Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Je suis beau et intelligent. À part cela, je suis juriste helvète, libéral-conservateur, amateur d'armes, passionné d'histoire et de politique. Je suis libéral et capitaliste convaincu car je pense que c'est cela l'état naturel de l'homme. Je parle le "Schwiizerdütsch" avec un accent zurichois, j'adore la bonne musique, la bière et surtout la femme avec qui je vis.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

The EU: an obstacle to individual freedom

The EU wants to tell you what you are allowed to listen to, what to see and what to say on the Internet. That is one more attempt of the European Animal to become a huge Leviathan rising taxes and violating its citizens' liberties.

EU Commissioner for Censorship and Acceptable Opinions Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, wants to regulate content on the Internet and wants "rules restricting television content to cover telephones and the Internet as well as over-the-air broadcasts". Of course, that is driven by a concern of "basic societal values": the "protection of young children" and restrictions on "incitement to hatred". At a recent meeting of European culture ministers, Reding said that there was "wide agreement on the restrictions against content that goes too far and ... destroys our society."

What means "going too far"? Is this post going too far? Is Bretzelmann, comparing this with Stalinism, going too far? Should we all be shut down? Who's going to decide on this? Some selective Anti-Racism NGOs as it is already current in France? Some detached culture ministers?* An Internet police? Big Brother? I miss the old days when people merely spoke of a European Common Market and of promoting economic freedoms. The "Political Integration" however proves to be a Road to Serfdom. It is puzzling to remember that it was Reding who accused China of "not being ashamed of censorship" and stated that it was the EU's view that the Internet didn't belong to anyone. At the same time though, the French Member of the European Parliament Alain Lamassoure wants to tax SMS and e-mails (Hat tip: ILYS).

Yet, did you know that the people working at the European Commission pay exceptionally low personal income taxes? A small wage tax (around 10%) is levied by the Commission, the rest is taxfree (!). I do not even mention the considerable additional benefits that are granted to these people. But still, it is the Commission that defends the Union's tax interests by bullying low tax countries and calling effective tax competition "harmful" since such competition allegedly cuts the public funds needed to finance its "Social Model" (dixit a Commission official, whom I won't name. She didn't even grin while saying that). Could you imagine members of some national Parliament having a considerable influence on tax legislation and policy but paying no taxes themselves?

As Pan concisely points out, while the European Union tends to bloat and become virtually a totalitarian contradiction of individual liberty, a small Eastern European country (ironically one of the EU's new members) leads the way to more individual freedom. Indeed, Estonia's evolution from Communsim to prosperity was influenced by ideas of American libertarians, above all Milton Friedman, for whom the ultimate ennemy of freedom is always the government: the smaller its size, the better. Only then can a society overall be prosperous. The trend towards Centralisation, big Government and Socialism in the European Union is however a guarantee of failure.

* The Swiss minister of the Judiciary, Christoph Blocher, recently said that in a truly liberal country, a Ministry of Economy would not be needed. I would add that in a truly liberal country, culture ministers are superfluous too.

UPDATE I (21.05.2006, 18:00):

UPDATE II (22.05.200, 15:25): Zilch has a great comment on this:
Viviane Reding may be well meaning but at the heart of such initiatives there’s the basic idea that people are too stupid or weak to make a decision by themselves, they need to be protected by a higher power, A nanny state who can always look over their shoulder and check that they’re not misbehaving (God knows what they might do should they behave freely).

Furthermore, there’s also the idea that society can be managed by regulating the interaction of the individuals. This has been a characteristic of every totalitarian dictature of the 20th century. However, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler did not have the technological means to spy constantly on their citizens, they had to rely on a secret police.

Today, however, bureaucrats can rely on state of the art technology and an army of NGOs for the active monitoring of citizens and the “protection of society”. This may look like i’m exagerating but they’re already putting people in jail for SpeakCrime how long before they start locking you up for Thoughtcrime ?

It’s only a matter of developing the required technology and reaching a wide agreement on what is dangerous for society before they’re able to do so. The highway to hell is paved with good intentions.

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