Citizens Opposed to Bureaucratic Bullying and Excessive Regulation

COBBERs and Other Issues

The FALSE GOD of SAFETY

We have fallen under the spell of a false god. We are allowing ourselves to become so regulated that life is losing its savour.

As we lose the ability to conduct our own lives, we are losing our personal survival skills. If we continue down this path, we will in time be overthrown by a more robust people.

You don’t have to be religious to understand the problem of false gods. You can discover for yourself the harm done when you take one of the good things in life, and place it above all else.

For example, money is generally a blessing – but you can make yourself into a monster by pushing all other human considerations aside in pursuit of it.

Likewise, you can lose your soul in the pursuit of safety. You can undermine pleasure, productivity, and progress by denying personal freedoms, by screwing down and locking up everything which could possibly cause an accident. Alas, some schools are barren places for children because of this policy.

Money, safety, health, tidiness, regularity, conformity – these are all good things in their place. But to make a god of any one of them is to be a fanatic, to oppress and to mar the very lives one was trying to serve.

Why do we spoil life by being so obsessive about a virtue that we make it into a vice?

Perhaps the most obvious case is the traumatised person. For example, someone has lost a young loved one on a school camp, has not been able to accept the loss, and wants to prevent other children from going on similar adventures.

Safety mania is sweeping our society today. There are ever fewer things we can do for ourselves, fewer choices we can make. We are becoming more like infants, less viable, more dependent on officials, who exercise ever greater controls.

Some people’s work constantly exposes them to the effects of accidents or diseases. This artificial overdose of bad news can understandably cause a desperate urge to prevent further suffering of the kind.

We sometimes want to ban activities which may in fact have a very low rate of mishap. Or to impose stringent controls in areas where very few people are adversely affected. If we are personally touched by a tragic slip, we tend to over-react: “No more bananas!”

Modern newspapers and TV news try to outdo each other with horror stories, creating the impression that the world is more dangerous than ever.

It is not rational to construct a regime of controls based on unlikely dangers, except where a misfortune is easily preventable without impairing our way of life. There is a reason for each safety measure, but there are powerful reasons against the combined effect of them all.

Controls which interfere significantly with our lives can only be justified if (1) the danger is a serious matter, (2) it is statistically likely, and (3) the total effect of the controls is not worse than the original problem.

“Even if it saves one life, it’s worth it” we sometimes say in our obsessive state. But this is often not true.

We don’t ban marriage – or parenthood – just because we know it sometimes leads to murder. Safety is not the be-all and end-all.

All life entails dangers. Indeed our society does not in reality hold to an absolute principle that survival is sacred.

We wake up every morning for example, knowing full well that today some of us will die on the roads. Yes, we try to get the count down, but we don’t even consider banning traffic – the only guarantee of a zero road toll.

To maximise the quality of life, freedom and safety will always be a balancing act. Naturally we try to avoid the most likely dangers, but when we are obsessive in pursuit of safety, we actually undermine the quality of life.

Yes, the road toll is our biggest safety issue, the main cause of untimely deaths. But even here, there is a level of harassment by road safety officers, beyond which daily life is so marred as to make the controls unjustified.

There are local government regulations, such as some of the building and food handling “safety” controls which cause more suffering than they prevent.

Some do not worship at the feet of the god of safety, but just profit from the fear-mongering.

These are the ambitious bureaucrats who amplify safety concerns in order to build empires of control, the junk news journalists who know that horror sells, and the feral lawyers who encourage the victim mentality and bury our community life under a tightening straightjacket of defensive regulations.

These characters are not themselves in thrall of the false god of safety. But they exploit the hysteria of safety devotees, the horror story tellers, in pursuit of their own false gods; — such as job security, income level and/or control of others.

(from Newsletter #2)

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How do you Rate a Bureaucracy?

In a democracy, a Police Force, Council, Department, or other authority that can achieve the same outcomes with less bullying of citizens is superior to one that unnecessarily controls, punishes and exploits its people, and makes life frustrating and distressing for honest citizens.

(from Newsletter #2)

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COBBERs and CRIMINALS

COBBERs hate crime (real crime that hurts people), because it is used by burocrats as an excuse for regulating the rest of us to death. But by treating us all as criminals, burocrats are only spreading the evil effect of crime.

A citizen I know is trying to build a shed in his own back yard. And as well as having to waste time waiting for council permission to start, he is having to pay for their planning permit and their building permit. Already these have cost him more than 10% of the estimated cost of the shed. And I’ll bet he is forced into further futile costs (that also add nothing to the shed) before they’re through.

Our public servants are killing flies with a swatter that also kills the householder.

(from Newsletter #2)

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IMMIGRATION

Immigration has contributed to the decline in our democratic standards. It’s not the immigrants' fault: it's our bureaucrats. How has this come about?

Immigrants come to a strange land, unsure of our standard of democracy, unsure what their rights and freedoms will be. And they often come from countries where the democratic standard of bureaucracy is distinctly lower than the traditional Australian standard – from countries where corruption is the norm or countries where it is downright unsafe to stand up to unreasonable treatment from officials.

So what is the problem? The problem is that bureaucrats will bully people to the extent that the people will tolerate. The new Australians, out of ignorance and fear, will tolerate an awful lot more bullying. Alas, some of our bureaucrats take advantage of this situation and adopt a more high-and-mighty attitude. As the immigrant proportion of our population increases, our bureaucrats steadily adopt more of the standover role that their vulnerability invites. A new standover style is replacing our traditional fair go. This is a cultural tragedy. We are spoiling a great way of life.

The solution? We must stand up for our new Australians. We must teach them our standards of democracy. We must speak up for them where necessary. We must defend our way of life.

(from Newsletter #3)

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Widespread Local Government Scam

Reclaim Our Homes

Ownership means control: otherwise, we who have paid hard-earned money for the largest purchase we will ever make, are mere tenants.

When there is a centuries-old stone cathedral in the centre of town, we hope that no-one will buy it, convert it into a lolly shop, and paint it in pink stripes. We say it is a heritage building: we set communal restraints on what can be done with an artefact that is in a sense communally owned. It lies at the hub of our town – literally, historically and culturally. Okay.

Now how can a hungry bureaucracy exploit this notion of conservation? Simple, it can declare more – and more – buildings and precincts as heritage areas. Another good word bites the dust as it becomes a tool of oppression. In recent years many local governments have marked large sections of “their” territory with a so-called heritage overlay.

This means that any owner has to apply to town planners for any alteration or addition, and has to conform in maintenance to a set of guidelines. Of course the bureau charges the hapless owners for these applications, makes them wait for weeks or even months for a decision, and dictates what they can and cannot do to their own homes – what colour paint they may use, what materials, even what greenery in some cases, whether they can build sheds or garages, where and how …

Too bad about personal freedom of taste – we have experts on that now. Too bad about style evolving naturally according to the people’s spontaneous choices. No, history must stop – we have experts who know better than social evolution.

This is a scam and an outrage.

People should have returned to them the authority over their own home to decorate and design as they wish – restrained only by basic considerations of health, safety and density. (For example: A. Our sewerage should not enter the source of anyone's drinking water; B. Our home should not fall down on its occupants; C. The number of residences per site to be subject to local democracy (not remote state controllers).)

Fellow democrats, think for a moment: is it not far better to put up with what you think is your neighbour’s bad taste, than to rob everyone of the right to build their own nest?

Design and decor should never come under bureaucratic control – except in the case of rare historic amenities which can be said to belong to the community rather than an individual.

How did this loss of personal freedom occur? There are several factors: there’s the obvious empire-building motive.

There’s the new wave of academically certified civil servants who feel obliged to pontificate on “less qualified” people’s lives in order to justify their appointments (see the article THE CERTIFIED BUREAUCRATS)

And there’s the unfortunate weakness of all centralised bureaucracy, the Problem of Influence (see THE EVILS OF BUREAUCRACY), whereby a small lobby can control the lives of the many by dominating centralised regulatory committees.

  • Reclaim our own lives
  • Restore genuine ownership

(from Newsletter #3)

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THREE ALERTS

to the engineers of our democracy: be they legislators, judges, bureaucrats, journalists, scholars, or other concerned citizens

FIRST ALERT

The missing safety valve

There is a gaping deficiency in our present democracy. There is no mechanism by which bureaucratic growth is restrained. Regulations, areas of control, and the resulting charges and fines amass daily.

Unchecked, this will produce an overload. The density of red tape and the burden of bureaucratic parasitism will become intolerable to a critical mass of the people.

The more extreme the situation is allowed to become before it is rectified, the more people will be hurt, and the less likely the remedies will be sensible or well-balanced.

Far better to establish citizens’ rights now, to enable us to retain some freedom, some authority over our own lives and property, some protection against an increasingly predatory regulatory industry.

SECOND ALERT

Successive malicious reporting

There is a grievous fault in our system of justice. Many regulatory authorities will investigate citizens if unsubstantiated allegations are made against them. These investigations can be distressing, costly and damaging to reputation and business.

The accusers or dobbers are often driven by ulterior motives. When the investigation reveals that the accused citizen or party is innocent, there is no compensation, nor any censure against the malicious dobber.

Furthermore, the dobber often proceeds then to make further mischievous reports to other regulatory authorities. No heed is paid to the fact that previous allegations were found to be vacuous. There is no limit within the system upon this form of mayhem.

Bureaucratic industry profits by dobbers. There is no sanction against the use of government officers as instruments of personal spite or gain. Sometimes officers know they are being used in this way and they nevertheless make the most of it.

Many citizens already have suffered in this manner. There is no protection, no redress. Justice is being mocked by the dobbers and bureaucrats who increasingly exploit this defect of our governmental system.

THIRD ALERT

Hungry citizens bite back

If the present growth in bureaucratic bullying and excessive regulation continues unchecked, there will eventually be unrest that no one can ignore. Let us remedy the problem before it gets to this extreme.

But be warned, trouble could break out sooner than you think. There are many petty injustices inflicted by bureaucracies today – especially unnecessary charges for unnecessary controls, and repetitive and inflated fines for non-offences.

The population overall endures this abuse today only because our booming economy is for most people (a) bringing in enough income to feed the parasites, and (b) keeping people too busy to resist.

But an economic downturn can happen at any time – and without much warning. Bureaucracy is immune, but the public are not. They will lose jobs, income or profits, and they will react angrily (a) out of their pent-up resentment and (b) because the level of financial homage they are paying to bureaucracy will have become intolerable.

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It is an insult to the memory of great civil servants past that their bureaus should have become oppressors of the people.

(from Newsletter #3)

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www.cobbers.org.au