This argument might be disputed by some, but let me present some compelling indicators:
1. The role of the state in the national economy
2. The expansion of statutory law - which displaces common law
3. The decline of intellectual thought
The first and third issues are indeed hard to demonstrate. In fact I actually think the education system today is better in ways than it was when I was young, and I think the quality of parenting is also much improved. I also think that the internet has made a great difference to people's education. Information is so much more readily available.
It is issue number 2 which stands out as particularly a problem. Government is the peak moral authority in any country. It basically sets the standards by which those subordinated by those laws behave. If the laws are vague, arbitrary, inconsistency, unworkable, poorly or inefficiently enforced, then that is a problem for the whole of society. This is the current state of affairs. So what has changed?
Well yes justice continues to be inefficient and expensive, but it is also intruding into new areas of our lives. This would not be a bad thing if it was rational law. i.e. Common law is the closest we have come to a rational framework, but it has been displaced by arbitrary statutory law. Why do I say its arbitrary? It is because it is negotiated in back offices, not logically integrated into a set of principles, which would be an ideological platform. The problem is the main political parties have such 'principles', its just that they will readily abandon them with any change in the political wind.
There is a dire need for political reform. The great problem as I see is that 'big business' who are in the best position to do something about this, are more interested in short range decision-making. They lack all respect for politics and really negotiate 'economic outcomes' divorced from political values. They are basically morally bankrupt. This is a problem because the concessions they will make will save them some grace tomorrow. But they will have conceded a 'significant principle' to the government. e.g. The right to know where they stand. A right to property. A right to freedom from coercion. These political rights have been surrendered; they need to be reclaimed. Government is run by incompetents. Australia should not be giving them more money. Look how they wasted it during the financial crisis. Consider who caused the financial crisis. It was not the banks actually; it was facilitated by US government policy through the Federal Reserve.
This week there was a gathering of well-organised public citizens. They are liberals concerned about such issues as global warming, peace on earth, animal rights, welfare issues, nuclear disarmament. The problem is that as business people 'make money', they surrender the realm of ideas to liberal idiots like this group - the UN Association of NZ. The UN used traditionally was supposed to defend rights. Basically the organisation is now run by liberals who are destroying it. Their agenda is no longer political rights. Today people in the Congo are being raped, pillaged and killed by armed guerrillas whilst the UN force remains on the sidelines and under-resourced. Instead the UN is more interested in sabotaging the intellectual framework upon which rights are based. Why? Because they never had an intellectual framework. Being an advocate of peace does not advance a value system. This is the nature of their moral bankruptcy. They want peace in Afghanistan (and elsewhere), but their feelings will not achieve it. They do not have the self esteem to mark a political argument, but they sway people with appeals to guilt and misplaced empathy through public conferences, seminars and protests like this one in NZ. They are built on a ground-swell of support by idiots who have no idea.
Peace is not a value. A prison is peaceful, though you wouldn't want to live in one. You can have peace in a free country because each person respects each others rights, or you can have peace because there is an autocrat forcing compliance. This is the direction in which politics has been moving since the 1700s. It leads us into economic crises or war, which forces a generation of capitulation, then it happens again. In those periods of 'soul searching' nothing is learnt because the introspection does not reach a level where the 'disease' of collectivism is repudiated. i.e. We all remember in 1993 - the Cold War was won. Today we are fighting a new 'Cold War' - a new expression of collectivism. It manifests as various forms of liberalism such as animal rights, global warming and welfarism. Its flawed philosophical premises remain unchallenged because business sees no practical interest in theorising values unless they make money. They think they are going to win people over by getting rich. It won't happen, even if you give them half the money you 'earn', they will win the 'moral sanction' to take anything which is not theirs for some 'common good'. Their welfare entitlement will undermine any good your efforts can achieve. It will undermine science, which is why you get such dubious research suggesting global warming and animal rights. Yes, primates have feelings, yes they are self-aware, but its not a basis for rights.
Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com