A slip towards the abyss

Via Phil at Random Nuclear Strikes comes this story from the U.K. about another small step toward a police state:

Thousands of council staff are being trained to police the smoking ban in bars, restaurants and shops in England.

Ministers have given councils £29.5m to pay for staff, who will be able to give on-the-spot £50 fines to individuals and take court action against premises.

They will have the power to enter premises undercover, allowing them to sit among drinkers, and will even be able to photograph and film people.

But the council is also exploring the possibility of getting street wardens, who currently aid the local police force, to help ensure the ban is effectively enforced.

Steve Dowling, director of environment and public protection at Nottingham City Council, said: “We have about 100 wardens and they could keep an eye on whether people are smoking in pubs as they go about their other duties.”

“But it is not just about pubs and restaurants. We will also be looking at the likes of car garages and shops are complying as well.”

Does anyone remember what happened with all the “Revenue Agents” after the end of prohibition? Faced with unemployment congress passed a jobs creation bill to keep them employed. That piece of legislation is now known as the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA34, or just NFA). Something that most people don’t think about is that people believed that in order for the Federal government to have the authority to ban the recreational use of alcohol they needed to amend the constitution. And the thinking after the repeal of the 18th Amendment with the 21st Amendment was that without a repeal of the 2nd Amendment congress couldn’t prohibit gun ownership either. But what they could do was put a huge tax on certain guns. $200, the standard transfer tax specified in NFA was about six months salary in 1934. All those “Revenue Agents” now had a job to do. They had to collect those $200 transfer taxes on guns that sold for, maybe, $10.00.

Even if these street wardens and council staff, trained to “keep an eye on people”, don’t have their job functions removed by legislation more enlightened about the rights of property owners there is still a serious danger lurking. Since they are already watching, taking pictures, and reporting on “anti-social” behavior they will be utilized for other things. What will it be next? Will people that complain about the smoking ban get called in to answer some questions about their loyalty to The Crown? Or perhaps ten years from now it will gay lovers who hold hands or steal a kiss in the dark corner of bar that will be charged with a “crime against nature”. East Germany had approximately one out of every 50 people as informers in the late 1980’s just before their collapse. The U.K. has better technology and is now recognized as having the most surveillance of western democracies. 

Adding informers to assist their technological surveillance will come in quite useful when the next tyrant comes to power. You don’t think they will get a tyrant in the U.K.? Maybe not anytime soon. But one never knows for certain what can happen in just a few years time. But what you can be certain is that the more power given to the state the more people that love power will be attracted to that centralized power. People that love power (why do I have these images of a certain Senator from New York flashing in my mind now?) use it to gain more power. They then exercise it to the detriment of a free society. Currently the U.K. is further down The Road to Serfdom than we are and just took another step ahead with the training of these informers.