Michael Howard, the leader of the British Conservatives, has published, as an advertisement in British newspapers, a list of his core beliefs.
Although at present the influence of the Conservative Party in Britain is limited to keeping Tony Blair in power by showing that they are not fit for government, nevertheless his List of Beliefs is useful for understanding the thinking (or lack of it) by politicians.
We examine his beliefs and seek to answer the question, whether these beliefs qualify Michael Howard for the post of the head of the British Government - the Prime Minister.
Our assumptions are that government must be competent and honest. Does Michael Howard possess these qualities in sufficient measure to qualify him for the position his seeks?
Below follow Michael Howard's beliefs with our comments.
I believe it is natural for men and women to want health, wealth and happiness for their families and themselves
Is there any politician who would say that he believes that "it is natural for people to want illness, poverty and misery for their families and themselves"?
Do not they all seek to put themselves into positions of power without responsibility by promising "Health, Wealth and Happiness for All"?
And do not they, who make such promises, after having been elected, are then rejected in favour of other politicians who make the same promises, which none of them can fulfill?
The purpose of the publication of Michael Howard's beliefs is to convince the people to elect Michael Howard to the office of Prime Minister. By asserting this point Michael Howard seeks to suggest that, if he is elected, he will make all the people "healthy, wealthy and happy".
"Health, wealth and happiness" depend mostly on each private individual, rather than on government.
Nor do these "bounties" necessarily go together. There are wealthy people who are neither healthy, nor happy. There are healthy and wealthy people who are downright miserable. And some ill and poor people are among the happiest of all men.
Yes, there are some government duties relating to health, wealth, and human happiness. But they are limited and should be strictly defined, so it would be possible to ensure that governments fulfill these duties and do not abuse their powers.
It is also true that by abusing their powers and failing in their duties governments can cause spread of ill health, poverty and misery among people.
But even when governments fulfill their duties and do not abuse their powers, the responsibility for one's own health, wealth and happiness falls on the private citizen.
The fact that Michael Howard suggests that his election to Prime Minister is going to bring to all men and women "health, wealth and happiness" shows that he is just another political demagogue - unfit to be Prime Minister.
I believe it is the duty of every politician to serve the people by removing the obstacles in the way of these ambitions
As we pointed it out in the previous item, the main "obstacles to health, wealth and happiness" are the private individuals themselves. The role of government in these areas is limited and should be strictly defined and controlled. This is because without such strict definition and control those in government tend to abuse their powers and fail in their duties.
They abuse their powers and fail in their duties through ignorance of the scope of their duties and powers and by deliberately indulging in politics.
Abuses of government powers by political demagogues often lead to damage to people's health, wealth and happiness.
People who do not leave the care of their own "health, wealth and happiness" to politicians, but take this responsibility upon themselves are the ones who are healthy, wealthy and happy.
Those who expect the government to make them healthy, wealthy and happy end up ill, poor and miserable.
So, if it is Michael Howard's intention to define the scope of government duties and powers and to ensure that government duties are performed and government powers are not abused, then he should say it openly and clearly.
But his suggestion that somehow his elections will "remove the obstacles from peoples' ambitions" without saying what these obstacles are and how he is going to remove them shows that he is just another political demagogues unfit to be Prime Minister.
I believe people are most likely to be happy when they are masters of their own lives, when they are not nannied or over-governed
Without defining the scope of government powers it is impossible to determine where "under-government" or "over-government" begins. Once the scope of government powers is defined, "under-government" will become "failure to exercise government duties", while "over-government" will become "abuse of government powers". Both of which should be criminal acts.
This is what "under-government" and "over-government" are even now, but at present there are no possibilities to determine when such cases of "mis-government" occur, nor to prevent such cases of mis-government, nor to deal with their consequences.
The result is that being in government means unlimited powers without responsibility.
Is Michael Howard going to change that?
I believe that the people should be big. That the state should be small
"The People" is nothing else than a collection of all the private individuals within an area of governance.
"The State" is a collection of individuals, laws, procedures, and institutions whose purpose is to govern an area of governance.
Politicians like to feel "big", and they often say that "the people" are "big" to pander to the vanity of the electorate.
But "big" and "small" have no real meaning when applied to "the People" or "the State" except in the numerical sense of "the size of population" or "the number of people employed in government".
To perform satisfactorily the duties of government a certain number of people is necessary.
If the number of people employed in government is less than necessary, the government will not be able to perform its duties.
If it is more than necessary, then the powers of government will be abused - some amount of taxes will be collected under false pretenses and some people will be paid out of government funds for unnecessary work.
This is a criminal matter, similar to other forms of fraud (like credit-card fraud, etc.). It is fraud aggravated by abuse of government powers.
So the issue of the "bigness" of the people has no relevance to the issue of Michael Howard's fitness for the position of Prime Minister.
While the size of government should be determined from the man-power requirements, once the scope of government duties is defined.
But Michael Howard uses terms "big people" and "small state" in a vague demagogical way. Is he fit to be Prime Minister?
I believe red tape, bureaucracy, regulations, inspectorates, commissions, quangos, "tsars", "units" and "targets" came to help and protect us, but now we need protection from them. Armies of interferers don't contribute to human happiness
But did not these or similar "institutions" exist at the times when Michael Howard was not in opposition, but in government? And was not he moved out of government and into opposition because he and his friends-n-colleagues had succeeded in persuading the electorate that they are not honest enough to be in government?
But what causes this proliferation of governmental and quasi-governmental institutions with vaguely defined duties and powers?
- Because the purpose and scope of powers of government are not strictly defined, politicians "follow their political instincts" and seek to find favour with the electorate by seeking to please various pressure groups.
Let us look at an example:
- To find favour with the "gay constituency" politicians passed a law effectively legalizing "same-sex marriages", justifying it by the need to allow homosexuals to adopt children and to enable them to have some exemptions from the Inheritance Tax.
But why do we have an Inheritance Tax?
Because the socialists who instituted this tax wanted to prevent "passing on of inherited wealth". And this is because they saw private wealth as evil, which they wanted to abolish. Instituting Inheritance Tax was a step in that direction.
But, now that socialism has been discredited as a "false religion", should not Inheritance Tax be scrapped as well?
But politicians prefer to use Inheritance Tax as an excuse for promoting sodomy, so that they would get "the gay vote".
The proliferation of governmental and quasi-governmental institutions is due to the same phenomenon - seeking out various "gripes" among various groups and passing laws and establishing institutions to placate such groups.
The only cure against this "cancerous growth" of parasitic institutions is to put on the government the burden of strict logical proof that any institution they propose to create, any law they propose to pass, is necessary for the performance of the government duties.
But this is only possible, if the duties of government are strictly defined.
Will Michael Howard undertake this task, if elected? Or is he just posturing, as the rest of the politicians do?
I believe that people must have every opportunity to fulfill their potential
What is this "potential"?
If Michael Howard believes that people should be free and responsible for the results of their actions, then their positions in life will depend on their actions, not on their "potentials".
Or is Michael Howard just using "fine words" without sense, as the rest of the political demagogues do?
Does this make him fit to be Prime Minister?
I believe there is no freedom without responsibility. It is our duty to look after those who cannot help themselves
Man is responsible for all the results of his actions.
Responsibility to look after dependants (those who are incapable of looking after themselves due to age, state of health or mental or physical disability) is just one of the responsibilities that people have.
But those in governments tend to seek to avoid the responsibility for the results of their own actions.
Tony Blair, for example, believes that he is only responsible towards "history", which implies that as long as he is alive and in power he can do what he pleases, and let the historians pass their judgements on his actions after he is dead.
No matter what crimes he commits, only history will judge him. Such approach is typical of politicians.
Whenever politicians commit some crime their first reaction is denial or "cover-up".
There have been a few reports on the integrity in British "Public Life". The earlier ones go back to the days of the John Major government of which Michael Howard was a member.
One of the conclusions of theses reports was that people in position of authority can abuse their powers with impunity.
But nothing has been done up to now to make those in position of authority responsible for the results of their actions.
What will Michael Howard do to ensure responsibility of those in government, if he becomes Prime Minister?
I believe in equality of opportunity. Injustice makes us angry
Opportunities are always there. And Britain has been a country of opportunities for centuries.
Penniless people have made fortunes in Britain without any reliance on government. While those who were "born into fortune" or came into fortune through "luck" squandered their opportunities and slipped into dependence on the state for their basic needs.
The socialist slogan of "equality of opportunity" is a myth. It is often used by political demagogues to place themselves into position of "dispensers of opportunities and favours".
And where does "justice" or "injustice" come into it?
Does Michael Howard suggest that it is unjust that people are born in different circumstances? Or does he see it unjust that not all people are equal in every respect?
Does Michael Howard believe in the socialist doctrine of "social justice"?
If he does, then why does not he re-brand his party as the "New Socialist Conservative Party"? This would make it clearer what he stands for.
I believe every parent wants their child to have a better education than they had
Michael Howard is mistaken in this belief.
Only uneducated parents have such desires.
Educated parents (whose education was not waste of time) take a view that their children should have good fundamental education, that would equip them for life. But any education beyond that would be the one to suit the personality of the child - not to "match or exceed" the education of the parents themselves.
The duty of government to educate is limited to provision of solid fundamental education necessary to turn children into self-reliant law-abiding citizens. And this only for those children whose parents are incapable of providing such education themselves.
Any education beyond that is for individuals themselves.
The failure of the present state education system is not that children do not spend enough time in educational institutions. But that it does not produce self-reliant law-abiding citizens.
Crime, alcohol, drugs, sexual depravity, dependence of healthy able-bodied people on the state for their basic needs, and incompetence and dishonesty in government are proofs of the failures of the present education system.
I believe every child wants security for their parents in their old age
Michael Howard is wrong in this belief.
When children are children, they seldom give any thought to the security of their parents in their old age. Most of them are concerned with what their parents will give to them, not what they will give to their parents. Such is the nature of childhood. The most that can be expected of children is that they would learn that it is their duty to respect and look after their parents in old age. But this they need to be taught - it is not a desire that they naturally have.
The parents' security in their old age usually becomes an issue for the children, when the children themselves become "middle-aged", and the parents from a source of support turn into a "burden".
Some children do provide security for their parents in their old age themselves without reliance on the state.
But many "middle-aged" or even "past-the-middle-aged" children fail to provide security even for themselves - not just for their parents.
And this is when this issue becomes the concern of the state as part of supporting those who are unable to support themselves and are not supported by their families.
But should not such situations be an exception, rather than a rule?
And is this not just another proof of the failure of the education system?
I do not believe that one person's poverty is caused by another's wealth
Some people do become wealthy by making other people poor, like thieves, robbers, drug dealers, fraudsters, politicians, and other criminal elements.
Wealth of people who come into it honestly does not make other people poor. But it can make other people envious.
The time to scrap such institutions is long overdue.
Will Michael Howard take this task upon himself, if he becomes Prime Minister?
I do not believe that one person's ignorance is caused by another's knowledge and education
Does anybody believe that?
But knowledge and education of some excite envy in others, and politicians use this envy to place themselves into positions of power by promising to provide "equal" education for all.
Government provided or financed educational institutions are not the only and not even the best source of acquisition of knowledge. - It is more efficient for individuals seeking knowledge to acquire any knowledge they need from books, the Internet and other sources of information. But this requires motivation and discipline, which comes from the fundamental values and attitudes acquired in childhood. - Another example of failure of the education system.
What does Michael Howard propose to do about that?
I do not believe that one person's sickness is made worse by another's health
Does anybody believe that?
But health and beauty of some excite envy in others, and politicians use envy to place themselves into positions of power.
So politicians promise to everybody free, equal and unlimited "health services", and, when elected, find that they cannot deliver them.
And the more people rely on the state provided services, the less responsibility they take for their own lives.
Most health problems are the result of unhealthy behaviour patterns such as alcohol, drugs, promiscuous sex, and other vices.
Yet another failure of the education system?
What does Michael Howard propose to do about that?
I believe the British people are only happy when they are free
If Michael Howard means freedom from foreign occupation, or some form of slavery, then the British people have been free for centuries.
If Michael Howard means freedom from vices and addictions, then vices and addictions have been rapidly spreading in Britain during the second half of the 20th century and have become an integral and accepted part of the Modern British Lifestyle.
This Modern British Lifestyle does make those who practice it unhappy, because vices and addictions enslave people. But this slavery is self-imposed and politicians have played an active part in making it "socially-acceptable".
Does Michael Howard propose to change that?
I believe that Britain should defend her freedom at any time, against all comers, however mighty
It is not clear why Michael Howard has to make this statement.
As a general proposition it is something that anybody would agree with. Any person or groups of people (not just Britain) have right to defend their own freedom.
But, given the present and foreseeable future, the only "mighty power" with ability to attack Britain is the USA. But they have not expressed any intentions of attacking Britain.
I believe that by good fortune, hard work, natural talent and rich diversity, these islands are home to a great people with a noble past and exciting future. I am happy to be their servant.
In what way are "good fortune, hard work, natural talent and rich diversity [of] these islands" are connected with Michael Howard's fitness to be Prime Minister?
And would the people of these islands be willing to have him as their "servant"?
One of the "buzz words" in the Conservative Party after they had slipped into unelectability was "inclusivity". They wanted to "open their party for all", with the emphasis mostly on "sexual orientation".
But have they asked themselves: "Do people want to be 'included' in the Conservative Party? - And, if not, then why not?"
Michael Howard's list of core beliefs is a typical example of a politician trying to "create an image of himself in the public eye".
The image Michael Howard seeks to project is that of "compassionate, caring, free-enterprise, inclusive, patriotic, liberal conservatism". The same image that he sought to project at the time of the elections campaign which resulted in the rejection of the Conservative Party in 1997.
When they lost the elections in 1997, the Conservatives had a good opportunity to undertake an honest in-depth analysis of the reasons for their failure and to develop a philosophy of government that would address the core issues of modern government: incompetence, dishonesty, lack of responsibility, and lack of accountability.
Government is still seen by politicians as a set of privileges and immunities, rather than of clearly defined duties.
Rather then seeking to provide honest government, they are looking for magic slogans, postures and stances, which will bring them popularity.
But the people do not need stances and posturing from politicians, they need honest and competent government.
Michael Howard's List of Core Beliefs has nothing to suggest that Michael Howard is ready to provide such government.
This does not mean, that he has no chance to be elected. But this chance is in the hands of Tony Blair. If Tony Blair succeeds to discredit himself, Michael Howard will be the only alternative.
But then, of course, it is never too late to mend one's ways. Michael Howard has plenty of opportunities to do so. Or does he need a "nanny state" to "provide opportunities" for him?