A friend recently sent me this video asking me for my thoughts:
I wrote the below as a reply, but as I have written so much, I thought it could also be recorded here for others’ comments.
I thought Harris (Lecturer in the video) seemed like a genuinely nice guy who was exercising his freedom of thought & Speech. Good on him!
However, I wasn’t convinced by his argument for many reasons that I list below. But mainly because he didn’t answer the question: ‘what should Society look like? And how would it be run?’ it’s very easy to say what you don’t like about something, but until you have provided an alternative solution, it’s not always very useful.
Harris argues that the Government is a company. But of course it is. A company just means a group of people (although we now understand it meaning a group of people interested in making a profit). The fact that it is a profiting company was obviously against Harris’ expectations, but I knew this already. I suppose it’s because I work in finance, and I’m exposed to it. It’s not a bad thing that the government is a company. The government needs to raise money, from taxes and elsewhere. They do that through many things, with treasury bonds, but also by becoming a ‘public’ (plc) company by selling shares. By selling shares a company is raising revenue, in this case, to support the UK economy. As a result, I don’t really see the problem that Harris is highlighting.
Legislation & Statutory Instruments (SI): I have been taking financial exams over the last few years, and am aquatinted with the terms. Much of the law my company has to abide by is written in SI. I have a friend who is just finishing exams, in law, to become a barrister. I asked him about the difference between legislation and SI, and have recorded the conversation below:
Me: I hope you don’t mind me texting so early. But I have a legal question. Why are Statutory Instruments given the power of Law, but actually only legislation is law? Thanks!
Friend: You can txt me anytime Ruth! Good question. Statutory instruments are effectively amendments. So, rather than rewriting a whole Act of law, a ‘S.I.’ is created. Think of them as postites slapped on an act because the legislators either missed something out, have changed their minds on things or got somethong wrong. Thats why they are given such authority in the law.
Me: Ok cool. Also is there a difference in definition between ‘legal’ and ‘law’?
Friend: Not reeeeally. Just depends how you use the terms.
Me: I’m listening to this guy who believes the government is a conspiracy. (a friend wanted to know what I thought) and he said there was a ‘massive’ difference between the terms . . . . So you would disagree? R
Friend: It depends how u use them essentially. For example a barrister is legal representation, he is not ‘law representation’. The law in England and Wales is enforced in courts. It id not ‘the legal’ that is enforcdd in courts. Its an English language distinction, not a ‘legal or law’ distinction. There is nothing at all sinister to the similarities or differences to these words save an language one, ie what is the speaker trying to say.
Me: Would you say statutory instruments were contacts with the people, as long ad individuals consent?
Friend: Hey, no they are actually law. Consent isn’t applicable as they form part of the law as much as Acts of Parliament do… 🙂
Therefore, I disagree with Harris on this point. All law needs to be able to be amended as new situations arise and new parties are voted into power …. Etc. And instead of changing the actual Act, they make SIs that apply to that law, but which have the same weight and power as the original legislation.
I think Harris has, perhaps, tripped himself up on some if the terms and language of ancient law, which does not mean what he thinks it does. For example, the idea of each of us having a fictional ‘person’ that is created when we are born is surely due to semantics. I have always know this to be the case in a sense (although I never saw it in the sinister way that Harris does) because we are all taxed with our National Insurance number, which magically appears in the post when we are 16! This is because they have a record of everyone from birth. Therefore, this is just a way to effectively administer the millions of people in the UK. I believe in free education and health service – therefore I believe in taxation. In order for us to be taxed we need to have a national insurance number. How is the government going to keep a fair and accurate record of who owes tax? Registration at birth is the most effective way. So again, I don’t see Harris’ issue here.
As I’ve said above, I think it comes down to how you EXPECT government and society to run. It seems Harris was expecting something else, and when he learned how the system worked he assumed it was the result of people who maliciously wished to control us. But I don’t see it that way.
Police ‘officers’ do seem to use a legal language which would be helpful for all us to know. Otherwise you can get pulled up for something that isn’t an offence, potentially, I guess. I agree with this in as far as I do think knowledge of the law will help you greatly when talking with the police. But I’m unsure what distinction there really is between a police ‘man’, and police ‘officer’. What would the police man do differently to the police officer? As Statutory Instruments ARE law, Harris’ police ‘man’ would have to break the law if he were not to uphold them?
‘Legalise’, Harris tells us, is a legal language not commonly understood by the laity He also says that words don’t change their meaning, but history tells us that they do. I think that even ‘legalise’ cannot sidestep the inevitable evolution of language. So in this respect, I don’t see the changes as intentionally malicious or misleading by the government.
When he talks about birth certificates and goes crazy about the language used, he is not consistent. Above he says that ‘legalise’ uses words differently. But when discussing the birth certificate he implies that the government literally mean ‘informant’ when this is clearly an old way of saying ‘applicant’.
I find it a little distasteful that he calls social workers to task for taking children away from their parents, implying the do it for money rather than for the child’s good. I have many friends who are social workers, and I don’t believe that they are blasé about it. They often do not do it for money, but for the benefit of those they serve. I find this type of ‘simple’ black and white thinking he upholds rather too simplified and unhelpful when applied to every emotive and controversial subjects such as this.
Anyway, enough of me bagging on about my dislikes! I did think he was a genuine guy though, and he has a right to believe what he wants. I also think his insistence on peaceful protest very good, and that, at least, I can fully support 😉