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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Statebook

In his, one hopes, waning days in office, Gordon Brown is making a pitch to radically change British government:

He is now set to use a speech on Monday to unveil plans to give every voter a unique identifier allowing them to apply for school places, book GP appointments, claim benefits, get a new passport, pay council tax or register a car.

Within another three years, the Times reported, the secure site would include a Facebook-style interactive service allowing people to ask medical advice of their doctor or consult their children's teachers.

The nominal goal here is to make government cheaper and more user friendly. No more trudging down to the local government office, just to be personally strangled in red tape by one of HM's lower level drones. Now you can pay obeisance to Leviathan from the comfort of your own home! Assuming you're one of the lucky few in modern Britain who can afford their own home. Canada has been moving down this electronic road to serfdom for sometime, with programs like Service Canada and Service Ontario. The British Facebook-style proposal will be taking the approach to its next logical step.

It's unlikely that Davy's Boys will make the correct objections to the proposal. Instead they will me-too cheerfully about how their own proposals will be even more efficient and business friendly. After all, their tailors are on Savile Row, so they understand these things better than the overall clad Trots at Labour HQ. Gerald Warner, that redoubtable old reactionary, has started calling the modern Conservative Party "Vichy Tories." They have consistently lived down to that assessment. The danger of a government version of Facebook is that it's not only a one stop shop for you accessing government, it's also a handy way of the government keeping track of you. The more efficient an over-mighty state is, the less free you are. A bit of polycratic chaos is good for the soul. Private companies are being mooted as designers for this new Statebook. It's the functions of much of the modern state that need to be privatized, not its online tentacles. 

Posted by Richard Anderson on March 25, 2010 | Permalink

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