Re: Weasels vs. transparancy / traffic cameras

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Mon May 22 2000 - 08:04:36 MDT

Charlie Stross wrote:

> On Sun, May 21, 2000 at 05:45:49PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > > > > but what about societies with greater surveillance and *less*
> > > >repression?
> > > > > spike
> > > >
> > > >no such animal.
> > >
> > > >From the descriptions of the Brits on the list, sounds like the UK might
> > > qualify.
> > >
> >
> > Depends. Property crime rates 5 times higher than the US? No right to
> > privacy on email? Political dissidents (irish) getting assassinated by
> > government SAS units? No free press (Official Secrets Act and various
> > libel laws)? What are the tax rates now over there? What are the value
> > added tax rates? Any country that taxes you on the number of closets you
> > have and the number of televisions you have is NOT a free country.
> I'm inclined to agree with Mike Lorrey that the UK doesn't qualify on
> the "no repression" metric, but for entirely different reasons.
> Property crime rates are higher, but the murder rate is much
> lower. There's no right to privacy on email ... but that fight's still
> being fought in the USA, which has no explicit privacy provision in its
> constitution. The SAS aren't shooting IRA members any more, and I hesitate
> to call _anyone_ to carries an M-16 a "dissident". The Official Secrets
> Act is in the process of being replaced by a Freedom of Information Act,
> and the Libel laws aren't censorship by government -- if you want to
> censor someone by accusing them of libel, it's a private lawsuit and
> it will cost you $$$. As for the tax rates -- income tax is _lower_
> than in the USA, although VAT is higher -- they include no-exclusions
> healthcare and a level of social security not found in the USA.
> Basically, Michael is wrong on _every_ count he cites. But he's right in
> his overall assertion that the UK (or at least England/Wales, a distinct
> legal entity from Scotland or Northern Ireland) is not free.

I'm so right I'm wrong, I guess?
property crime high.... check
did SAS kill dissidents? ... check (that they aren't killing them ANYMORE is
irrelevant, only because everyone is now playing nice nice. When the next
dissident group shows up will prove if its a true change)
Is there an Official Secrets Act? ... check (and how is the FOI Act any
different? New name the same dog?)
Do the libel laws enable anyone to keep the media from reporting the truth or
punish them for doing so?... check
You say the income tax is lower? What are the brackets, the percentages? What are
the deductions? What is the cost of living?
Value added tax? ... check

additionals: are you saying you don't have the right to refuse to participate in
the health care system and the social security system?

> The whys and wherefores of this are sufficient to fill a book, but
> basically boil down to "first-past-the-post electoral systems with
> no constitutional safeguards suck". (Or rather, they only provide
> representative government when there's a relatively homogeneous
> population. And the UK has been becoming increasingly, radically,
> diverse since the end of the 1950's.)

Its still lily white compared to the US.

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