James O’Brien is held with high regards when it comes to debate and valuing discerning opinions. However, one of his more recent podcasts has shown he has lost that regard. He now only values what he has created as truth and demonises the people of discerning opinions regardless of whether you agree in part with him. He is one of many people to cower to the Leftist Mob which has been overtly popularised over the last few years, but more so since the pandemic started. Providing context to the arguments he made, or common truths as he would now have you believe, this article will highlight the falsehoods of his claims but also now why his apparent new stance is dangerous for society.
James’ podcast on 17th February 2021 is aimed at the political ideology of ‘small government’. This is something that many people believe in. The idea is to have less government involvement in your life and be more accountable for your own life choices. This being said, this belief does not exclude the premise of government intervention to those who truly need it. Governments are legally bound to uphold a minimum standard of living. This standard is debated heavily and rightly so. However, James attacks this ideology by stating small government and personal responsibility, “which is you know and I know, simply a euphemism for privileged people denying their responsibilities to less privileged people.” He further attacks this view, which he claims is primarily held by self proclaimed libertarians, that libertarianism is “weapons-grade selfishness as honest people call it.” Before we analyse the dangers of this political view, how can we expect to bring people to the debate table to solve issues that fit the majority? A democracy works on majorities. Vilifying opposing points of view is a weak way to get people to agree with your political ideology and it also is met with resistance; hardly the stuff of rational debate.
So according to James, if you believe that government should be less involved in our lives or even fathom the idea of having personal responsibility, you are not only selfish, but an awful human being. It should not be controversial to state that we all should take responsibility for our own actions. If I steal from a shop, I should face criminal charges. If I decide to bunk off school and not take my exams, I should bare the consequences of my actions when it comes to higher paid jobs. If I choose to not use protection during intercourse, I should face the consequences of potentially having an unplanned baby when I can not financially support it. The notion that government should somehow bail you out or catch you when you make a bad decision is almost identical to when Richard Branson’s Virgin airline company was collapsing asking for government subsidies. People were rightly outraged when he asked for government aid. The disgusted population claimed: he made bad choices; it is his business so he should suffer the consequences and that he owns a private island so he should have his priorities in order first. Yet, applying that same logic to everyone less economically advantaged as he is, is a selfish act and you should be ashamed of your views.
The issue with attacking those who believe in personal responsibility, is that you are normalising bad choices and actions and passing all negative consequences as the fault of our political system. Like all ideologies or beliefs, there are exceptions. Who is to blame if a child has to have multiple fillings in their teeth? Who is to blame if you choose to leave your job and now can not find another one? Who is to blame if you live in a one bedroom flat but want to have children and now struggle to feed them? Who is to blame if you smoke and can’t afford food or energy? Again there are exceptions and this does not apply to everyone, but branding the idea of self responsibility as selfish, you are passing the buck and are in fact incentivising people to make bad choices. You can see this with single motherhood. A single mother can earn more in benefits than if they were living with the father who works. You can also apply for suitable council housing if you have more children than bedrooms. To summarise, you can have children, despite not being able to support them yourself because the government will support you. At what point are you responsible for your actions? It is not possible for this to be a contributing factor for a whole range of issues such as child food poverty and rise in youth crime.
Moving on to some of the claims James made to support his ideology relate to American politics; more specifically the Arctic conditions in Texas and other places. In the podcast, James supports his belief of small government and self responsibility being bad by claiming that the Texas blackouts are because Texas deregulates industries and businesses to favour the CEOs and the elites. This is just laughable. The idea that Texas would not have suffered blackouts if they had heavily regulated their industries and joined the national grid is just not plausible. The infrastructure for energy supply froze because of a weather event that roughly occurs every hundred or so years. The government grid is not immune to freezing. You can see this with states that are Democrat run. Furthermore, why would a state spend billions on making their energy infrastructure better equipped for arctic conditions when they experience tropical conditions almost always?
James supports government regulation as being a good thing by comparing Texas (republican) to California (democrat), who regulate their energy supply. This shows a complete disregard to facts and is completely based on commonality between his ideology and California’s ideology. The facts show that California has had blackouts for the last few years because they are pushing renewables such as wind and solar. Just last year, they were implementing rolling blackouts to try and distribute the power to meet the state’s needs. The truth as to why they did not have the power supply, is because government regulations make it more expensive to produce and use fossil fuels because they are pushing green energy. The issue with green energy, is that you can not just flick a switch and meet your energy needs. So in this example, government regulation negatively impacted the population.
Another example, is that government regulations in the energy sector make energy more expensive, which in turn affects the more vulnerable people in societies. A comparison of energy prices last year show Texas is less than half the price of energy in California. So this idea that ‘big government’ is a good thing, just is not the case in the example he gave. This is not to say government intervention is not needed, but government intervention is not a solution to all of our problems.
Before most rational thinkers stopped listening to the podcast, James compared Trump and Biden in terms of bringing western politics back on track. He makes the claim that Biden is an “honest politician” because of his inaugural speech where he stated he would be a president for all people. It would have been fair to make this claim on January 21st, but Biden has been in power now for almost a month and has u-turned on almost every campaign promise: $15 minimum wage, student debt forgiveness, continued fracking, defunding the police and more. We normally determine someone’s honesty and trustworthiness on their actions. James O’Brien has valued words over actions to support his political ideology.
It is perfectly fine for James O’Brien to hold these beliefs, but for someone who once held rational debates and saw two sides, he has formulated his own truth based on little facts and more on his self-generated moral compass and then vilifying those who are of a different opinion. James should be acknowledging valid arguments from his ideological opposition and breaking their arguments down to convince people of his own ideology. That is the whole purpose of debate and persuasion. His forceful tactics only gaslight already tender political discussions around certain topics. In this podcast, he has not only spread false information, which has been stated above, but he is further polarising a political climate when now more than ever in recent times, we should be coming together to solve some of our biggest national and global issues.