Interesting discussion on the Smoking Section between Emily Wieja and her father:
Her father was saying that he was not too bothered about smoking bans and the imminent prohibition of the menthol cigarettes he smoked. He saw it as a natural evolutionary process, or ‘trend’, much like traffic patterns and densities. It was just what happened, and was happening all the time. There were the same sort of trends in hairstyles, skirt lengths, music preferences. Or maybe even just the weather.
Listening to him, I could well see his point of view. Getting bothered about smoking bans is like getting bothered about people’s newspaper habits, or choices of shoes. It was changing all the time: live with it. And I think that if smoking bans were part of a natural progression, I wouldn’t be any more bothered about them than he is.
But what we’re seeing happening with smoking isn’t really a natural process of evolution at all. It’s directed evolution. It’s an eugenic social engineering programme. State power is being used to push people in a very particular direction: it’s being used to make them stop smoking.
The difference between a natural evolutionary process and a directed, eugenic evolutionary process is that a natural process is one whose outcome is unknown, while a directed process is one in which the outcome is predetermined. When some number of plants and animals in some area are allowed to grow and multiply uncontrolled, it will not be possible to know in advance which ones will prosper and flourish, and which will become scarce or even extinct. But if they grow and multiply in a controlled environment which favours the growth and prosperity of one particular plant or animal, the outcome is being predetermined. The dice are loaded. The game is fixed.
And there’s a big difference between the two. The natural process of evolution will throw up its own set of ‘winners’. The directed process will throw up a predetermined ‘winner’. And this predetermined winner is very unlikely to be the one which would have won using a natural process.
For example, imagine a number of vehicle manufacturers who each sell vehicles with different numbers of wheels. There are cars with four wheels, tricycles with three wheels, motorbikes with two wheels, and even some monocycles, as well as six-wheeled and eight-wheeled ones too. In a condition of free and equal competition, some of these vehicles will sell well, and some won’t. We might suppose that, although monocycles will be much cheaper than cars, and have lower running costs, they have an unfortunate tendency to fall over and throw off their riders, often causing their deaths. Equally, although eight-wheeled vehicles will be extremely stable, they will cost a lot more, and have much higher running costs. We might therefore not be too surprised to find that, in a condition of free competition, four-wheeled vehicles will tend to predominate, because they combine good stability with relatively low prices and running costs. i.e. most people will drive cars, because they are on balance the best buy, all things taken into account. A natural evolutionary process throws up cars as the ‘winners’.
But if the competition is fixed, with a strong emphasis placed on health and safety, so that all vehicles must have at least twelve wheels, then the predetermined ‘winner’ is the twelve-wheeler. All vehicles will have twelve wheels or more. But since we know that in a state of natural competition, four-wheelers are the ‘winners’, this must mean that the planned, directed society of twelve-wheeled vehicles will one where much more fuel, and a great many more wheels, are needed to keep the same amount of traffic flowing. People in the twelve-wheeled society will be much busier than those in the four-wheeled society, as they have to replace wheels more frequently, and acquire much more fuel to power the heavier twelve-wheelers.
So planned, directed, controlled societies will always be ones in which non-optimal choices are being made. And if everything is planned and directed, all products will be sub-optimal. It won’t just be cars, but also televisions, radios, and even cups and saucers. Everything will be sub-standard, and everything will always be getting worse. And this is more or less exactly what happened in the planned, regulated, controlled economies of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. In fact, it’s the principal reason why they are ‘former’.
The same will apply to tightly controlled societies, with lots of rules and regulations governing personal behaviour. The more controlled people are, the less freedom of action they have to respond flexibly to unforeseen events. They are being kept busy by rules and regulations. They are being kept far busier than they need be. For if there are signs in a park saying, “No Walking On The Grass”, this will mean that everyone must stick to the paths while crossing a park, and take far longer than they would if they had just walked straight across the grass. They have to walk much further, and keep much busier.
Many years ago I read a story, perhaps apocryphal, of how Genghis Khan once demonstrated to a visiting ambassador the discipline of his army by commanding a cavalry detachment to ride off a cliff to their deaths – which they duly did, unhesitatingly. No doubt this impressed the ambassador, but it also demonstrated a fatal weakness in the army, because it showed that Genghis Khan’s disciplined, obedient cavalry could not even stop themselves riding off a cliff to their deaths. This might explain why that army was eventually defeated, and Europe saved from the Mongol hordes.
And while we’re on about Europe:
The European Union evolved, devolved actually, from basically a free trade pact among a few countries to a giant, dysfunctional, overreaching bureaucracy. Free trade is an excellent idea. However, you don’t need to legislate free trade; that’s almost a contradiction in terms. A free trade pact between different governments is unnecessary for free trade. An individual country interested in prosperity and freedom only needs to eliminate all import and export duties, and all import and export quotas. When a country has duties or quotas, it’s essentially putting itself under embargo, shooting its economy in the foot. Businesses should trade with whomever they want for their own advantage.
But that wasn’t the way the Europeans did it. The Eurocrats, instead, created a treaty the size of a New York telephone book, regulating everything.