The Veil of Ignorance- Taking a Philosophical Approach to Green Politics

Central to the political stance of the Green Party of England and Wales is the statement:

“Conventional political and economic policies are destroying the very foundations of the wellbeing of humans and other animals. Our culture is in the grip of a value system and a way of understanding the world which is fundamentally flawed”*

This translates in to such things as increased taxation on the highest earners, abolition of the use non-dom status, the closing of of tax loopholes to significantly decrease the number of tax loopholes which can be exploited for personal gain.

Typical responses for why people should not vote Green is that this will mean increased taxation for many, when other parties understand that they have worked hard for their money so the should keep it.

But a ‘thought experiment’ (taking an idea and imagining its consequence if it were real life) helps to illustrate why the Green Party is the best vote for social justice. The thought experiment is known as ‘The Veil of Ignorance’ originally proposed by John Rawls**, and as it is explained try to imagine the consequences and how you might act.

Imagine yourself a ghost or a soul getting ready to inhabit a body, in a new world, with many other souls, who all want the best life for themselves. In this state you know nothing about the body you will inhabit; your natural abilities, your position in society; your sex, race, nationality, or your mental or physical abilities (or disabilities). You may inhabit the body of the least advantaged person in society, but your knowledge over what body is behind a veil of ignorance. Not knowing what the lottery of life will give you how will you choose to arrange society? What do you think you would want to make sure was in place to ensure you had the best possible chances in life, irrespective of your start?

For me, this perfectly summarises how so many Green policies are born.

Equality does not mean treating everybody the same; it means identifying the differences between people and trying to level the playing field. For the Green Party this means providing adequate and decent council housing, it means looking after the planet so that we leave it in the way that we would want to give to our children, or our loved one’s children.

There are costs to some in this kind of society, where freedom and fairness are in direct conflict; the fairness of some will be at the cost of the freedom of others.

we cannot and should not deny this! We proudly say that we aim for a fair society, and for the common good; we aim to build the world that the person behind the veil of ignorance would choose, because that is the one that is fair and just and gives as many as possible the opportunity to live a good life and maximises the wellbeing of humans.

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* You can see the full basis of the Green Party philosophy here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/philosophical-basis.html
** There is a good Wikipedia piece on The Veil of Ignorance here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil_of_ignorance

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Your visit to A&E in 2020

Man- Ooooowww! Help me!
Nurse- I’m with you now, sir. Welcome to the Serco quick response care service, how can we aid you today?
Man- Ooowww! Is this not A&E
Nurse- Well yes sir, but following a listening exercise with our customers Serco rebranded the department- they felt “Accident and Emergency” sounded too downbeat. So we are now “quick response care service”. How can we aid you today.
Man- I fell off a ladder and I think I broke my leg. I had to get a taxi in because the ambulance service said it was not resource friendly to provide transport for just a broken leg!
Nurse- yes, then Serco direct transport aid service will say that nowadays sir.
Man- I didn’t realise that I had to be cost effective to get an ambulance!
Nurse- well in order for us to meet our contractual targets, Serco has to be shown to be providing a value for money service. But what can you expect, people want a health care service that is free at the point of access and then complain when we provide that! Anyway, enough of this chit chat, I have two minutes to triage you,mane we have already used one of those minutes, so chop chop, how can we aid you today?
Man- as I say, I think that I’ve broken my leg.
Nurse- think you have or know you have?
Man- well how should I know?
Nurse- oh that’s a shame, if you knew it was broken we could have put you on the fast track treatment pathway, but if you need a diagnosis that will slow things down. We estimate your wait will be four hours.
Man- Four hours?! But I’m in agony, AND there’s nobody else here.
Nurse- well no sir, but you have been triaged as a level five emergency which we aim to reposed to within four hours. If we start treating you now, and a level 1 emergency comes in hen we might miss a target there.
Man- but I don’t want to wait four hours!
Nurse- I know,mist frustrating; if you had broken a hand as well that would move you quite sharply up the list. Some people pop to the bathroom and break their hand in order to move up the list. We can provide the equipment to do that in a safe way, for a reasonable price if you like?
Man- I’m not breaking my own hand!
Nurse- well do you have anything else that will move you up he list?
Man- I’ve got depression;
Nurse- Oh that’s good.
Man- so I get moved up he list?
Nurse- Ah, no. That treatment is not supplied by Serco, but we do however get £50 for every successful referral so I’ll write it down.
man- But it doesn’t move me up the list?
Nurse- No but did you not hear me, we get fifty quid!
Man- Why should I care about that?
Nurse- Well that fifty and other peoples fifties add up and that money gets invested back in to the service
Man- Where?
Nurse- Well… Doctors bonuses, but I’m sure you want your doctor to be happy, right? By the way while we’re talking about referrals, do you think you might have cancer?
Man- Is this really the time for this?
Nurse- Oh I’m sorry sir do you have a pressing engagement to get to? A pressing appointment for sitting and waiting in agony to get to?
Man- No
Nurse- Precisely sir, so do you think you might have cancer?
Man- I don’t see why I would?
Nurse- Hmm, well has anyone in your family ever had a heart condition?
Man- Well my dad died of a heart attack…
Nurse- Perfect! Checking for congenital heart failure could get us £120!
Man- Oh, I can’t be bothered with this. I’m just going to go home and take my chances.
Nurse- That will lead to a fifty pound fine, sir, for engaging services without using them.
Man- Fine, put the bill in the post.
Nurse- We will, sir, and we would kindly ask for you to fill in and send back our Customer satisfaction survey, which we will send out with the bill. Have a good day now, sir.

David Cameron tries to explain democracy to 8 year olds… and fails!

– Pre-script: Change the name David Cameron for Barack Obama it generally reads the same.

Mrs Smith: Good morning children, and I would like you to welcome our Prime Minister David Cameron who is here this morning to tell us all about democracy.

David: Thank you Mrs Smith. Good morning children! So the Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘Democracy’ as “a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly”. Now I know that might be quite complex for you youngsters but I’ll go in to it a little more, but what I want to say first of all is that the country you live in, England, or more widely the United Kingdom, is a democracy. Now do we have any questions so far? Yes you, boy.

Boy: so does everyone have to vote so everyone is having a choice?

David: No; not voting is only showing that we can exercise our democratic right to vote and no to vote if we so choose! And so…

Boy: how many people did vote?

David: well, err, 28% that’s 28 people out of every 100 children

Boy: that’s not very many!

Girl: Sir, my mummy says that the low voter turnout implies that the options on offer do not represent the choices with which people would make if they were to make decisions directly. Is the definition of democracy wrong then because it doesn’t sound like here?

David: Well, no, err b-but…

Other boy: Why are there only two main parties in this country?

David: Well, that’s because running election campaigns are expensive if you want to be taken to be a serious contender and we are reliant on donations of which only two parties are seen as worthy for these…

Other girl: But yay daddy says that’s the definition of a plutocracy where power is derived from wealth and any system which would look to diminish the rich people’s wealth is doomed to fail.

David: W-What, a plutocracy? You…

Boy: Why do so many leaders come from only the best schools, like Eton?

David: It is often people following in their parents footsteps. It is difficult entering politics as a complete outsider…

Girl: But teacher says this is the definition of an oligarchy; a country controlled by a select group, in this case the privately educated- that’s far from democracy.

David: Err… You can enter government from outside the establishment, it’s just that…

Other girl: If people outside government didn’t like you and wanted you to quit would you do it?

Cameron: Of course not, it is my duty to serve…

Boy: This sounds like a dictatorship then!

David Cameron leading a #ttip revolution to once and for all kill democracy  by @Rowland72James

David Cameron leading a #ttip revolution to once and for all kill democracy
by @Rowland72James

Cameron: No, no! We have the house commons, and the House of Lords!

Other boy: Well we have already established the House of Commons is an oligarchy. The House of Lords is either hereditary (a form of oligarchy, which is currently chauvinistic*) or by appointment primarily from those with government interests, so a concentrated oligarchy appointed by a plutocracy, governed by a dictator!

Cameron: Oh just shut up will you!

Boy: Ah! Stopping our free speech, well that’s very democratic! Oi, come back, I have yet to show you how un-democratic corporate lobbying is!

*Only 2 of the 98 hereditary lords in the house of lords are female.

David Cameron sets out his philosophy showing himself a disciple of Fredrich von Hayek in RETURN TO SERFDOM  By @Rowland72James

David Cameron sets out his philosophy showing himself a disciple of Fredrich von Hayek in RETURN TO SERFDOM
By @Rowland72James

New Toy for All the Family- ‘Lego: British Taxation Edition’

By Matt Bernard

Congratulations on your new purchase of Lego: British Taxation Edition. This set provides fantastic potential to construct a crowd funded existence far greater than the sum of its parts. A place where all Lego Britains are accommodated and can thrive knowing that any achievements made during play will benefit all in Lego Britain – remember those Legomen are anything but selfish!

To get started, first you’re going to need some Lego bricks – it doesn’t matter how you get them, but in order to maintain your stash we suggest you avoid declaring them to the Legoland Revenue* wherever possible. That way you can swap them for those differently coloured Legoman legs you’ve been eyeing up, or perhaps shinier hair.

If you have a job in Lego Britain (building houses or whatnot), it is your god-damned right that your earnings should be taxed as little as possible. Those are your Lego bricks: you earned them, and no matter how many you have already they are yours to do with what you will as an individual.

Use your Lego well, and you could be living here!

Use your Lego well, and you could be living here!

Next, the correct way to play in Lego Britain dictates you must complain if you see any of your Lego taxes given to those in need. Suggested mentality: ‘if you didn’t earn those Lego bricks, you should die!’. It’s a level playing field in Lego Britain – everybody’s equally capable of succeeding as nobody is physically or mentally handicapped, or is ever required to bring up a child or care for the elderly.

Disaster storyline!!
Imagine if you were earning a glorious amount of Lego bricks – more than you could ever be reasonably expected to use…then you were taxed more on your earnings & the government started using them to build schools! This would be disastrous because Legomen are plastic and education would be a needless waste of time. It would also marginally diminish your personal Lego stash and you might not be able to build a golden porch on your house which would undoubtedly benefit the whole of Lego Britain.
But don’t panic…once you have collected a vast personal wealth of Lego bricks there are always ways to keep them from the Legoland Revenue*, such as re-registering your company or Lego citizenship to a country willing to take fewer of your bricks (perhaps one with a bigger Lego box, fewer Legomen to sustain, or greater disregard for its Lego-inhabitants). This means you can continue to golden your porch back in Lego Britain, whilst buying gradually bulkier cars for when the flat tile Lego pieces dis-attach from the poorly funded roads to reveal the bobbly bits underneath; no need to repair the roads when you’ve got the bigger Lego tyres!

Who will your Lego go to in your will? If you're really smart you will have already passed it on before death to avoid Lego-inheritance tax!

Who will your Lego go to in your will? If you’re really smart you will have already passed it on before death to avoid Lego-inheritance tax!

Maintaining low sovereign wealth and high sovereign debt in Lego Britain may mean fewer bricks used for things like infrastructure (power, transport, etc). But don’t fret; another more sensible ‘creator’ from elsewhere will always come along and build something, and definitely won’t then expect to profit from it.

More good news is that to keep your Lego taxes low, many of the lower priorities of Lego Britain receive very few of your bricks (or none at all). Funding is instead delegated to charities – these include cancer research (short of symptoms drawn on with a marker pen, disease is rare in Lego Britain), and animal welfare – also considered unimportant as animals tend to live incredibly happy lives as part of forest animals or riding stable sets.
Our final inspiration comes from a word we use at our Lego headquarters in Denmark – ’Hygge’**, which literally translates to ‘don’t give a shit about anyone else, they can last the winter poor and alone!’
*Legoland Revenue set includes steed, cutlasses and interchangeable sinister grins & is available separately at all good satirical Lego stores.

This image has nothing to do with the blog really, but just liked it!

This image has nothing to do with the blog really, but just liked it!

** Read more about Hygge here: http://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/blogs/how-hygge-can-help-you-get-through-winter

John Lewis in Cash Crisis- “We’ve got too much!”

John Lewis today have published their sales for the five weeks to 27 December 2014, stating that their total sales were £777m, up 5.8 per cent compared with last year.

“This is an absolute disaster”, said made-up John Lewis CEO Robin Britten, “we’ve just got more money than we know what to do with and where to put it”. “People have been so impressed with seeing a penguin in our adverts that they have been literally throwing money at us; some people without even buying anything!”

Treasury keen to boost John Lewis-style ownership by @rowland72james

Treasury keen to boost John Lewis-style ownership by @rowland72james

Videos have been emerging on YouTube and social media outlets showing that at the end of shifts staff have been struggling to find where to put all the money they’ve taken that day. Staff can be seen cramming money in to stylish yet contemporary wardrobes; one worker can be seen throwing bank notes at a gorgeous mahogany chest of drawers, seemingly not even needing to care whether any go in as he will inevitably be able to fill it with whatever does hit.

The problem for John Lewis has been compounded by the distressingly huge sales of Black Friday week £179million. On Black Friday John Lewis sold a tablet every second which to give perspective is greater than the average summers day sales of Ecstasy, MDMA and ketamine combined in all the dance clubs in Ibiza!

News has emerged that the Board of directors for John Lewis has called an emergency meeting to figure out what to do with the excesses of money that they have made. A number of ideas were put forward:
– Massively increase charity donations
– Put money in to local communities
– Pay cleaning staff the living wage, and make them entitled to the same end of year bonuses the directors and other John Lewis staff are entitles to.

These ideas were shot down and all responsible directors were fired with immediate effect and huge bonuses for early contract termination, which has thus far been identified as the best way to rid the company of the excess of cash!

Cameron launches election campaign with a plea to vote SelfServative & stay on the road to a WONGA ECONOMY by @Rowland72James

Cameron launches election campaign with a plea to vote SelfServative & stay on the road to a WONGA ECONOMY by @Rowland72James

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said “It’s great to see small, local businesses thriving, just as we pledged to help them do. No-one wants to see large faceless corporations capitalising all of the commercial markets so I praise John for being able to show the business acumen to break free from the crowd.”

“We are so keen to continue to help these small, struggling companies” Osborne continued “that we are going to offer tax breaks for companies that say that they are ’employee-owned’ despite for all intents and purposes clearly not being employee-owned. Yes, we pledge £50 million pounds worth of tax breaks for these businesses which is great news for people like Mr John Lewis, though probably bad news for you as we need take that money out of the budget from somewhere.” Some have criticised Mr Osborne for exacerbating John Lewis’s problem of having too much money. Other people, mainly men with brief cases and suits rubbing their hands in a kind of cat-that-got-the-creak kind of way, have praised George Osborne for allowing them to buy a second jacuzzi.

George Osborne patron saint of billionaires showers the already super rich with gifts from the taxpayer by @Rowland72James

George Osborne patron saint of billionaires showers the already super rich with gifts from the taxpayer by @Rowland72James

More footage is being released each day of money being stashed in high-quality but reasonably priced suit cases, and under genuine velvet chaise-longs, and as the insert for contemporary and well-made cushion covers, and in to beautifully, gorgeous, perfec….

The end of this article is missing as the author has run to John Lewis to purchase a chique, desirable soft leather sofa which is currently 1% off in the January sales.

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All pics bar featured image provided by Twitter’s @Rowland72James – Do follow!

Some of the above article is actually true, though it is difficult to tell which bits, here’s some real news to help you:

For the five weeks to 27 December 2014, total sales were £777m, up 5.8 per cent compared with last year- http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/business/business-news/retail-giant-john-lewis-celebrate-8374044

John Lewis breaks its all-time sales record in Black Friday week- http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/dec/02/john-lewis-breaks-all-time-sales-records-black-friday-week

Treasury keen to boost John Lewis-style ownership-
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jul/03/treasury-john-lewis-worker-shares

Sign a petition asking for John Lewis to pay its cleaning staff the living wage:
https://www.change.org/p/tell-john-lewis-to-pay-cleaners-the-living-wage?recruiter=7663054&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive