Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Food Czars: New York City is Police State Central

The Stalin of New York, also known as Mayor Bloomberg, after having successfully banned tobacco from his fiefdom, and then trans-fats from restaurants and eateries, now has His eyes set on banning super-sized drinks and sugar content.

Just like those who would seek to tax food choices, a tax or a ban on food choices is a tax or ban on choice, period. It's a fundamental attaxk on freedom.  It doesn't get any more basic than controlling the food supply.

There's never an excuse for a politician having this much power over an individual. None. Because once they think they've been given a moral mandate, Collectivists like Czar Bloomberg will never stop their immoral crusade on choice.

... First they came for the tobacco, then they came for the trans-fats, now they come for the sugary drinks ... what next? There's no end to what the self-anointed Czars can justify banning. Coffee? Goner, ultimately. Alcohol? Yep, gone soon. Burnt toast (carcinogenic), will have to regulate little limiters into toasters ...

I think we should ban politicians: let's start by banning politicians who would ban life choices, because they're evil walking.

Update.

And now National Socialist, Judith Collins, is lining up to join the compulsion touters. She's happy to raise alcohol excise taxes In New Zealand by 50%. Taxes were never meant to influence life choices. And not one editorial in the MSM raising the principled argument against a government exercising such inappropriate powers behind the IRon Drape. Not one.


Update 2.

I wake up this Queen's Birthday Monday to find a veritable, and unseemly, orgy of New Zealand MP's jack-booting along their immoral campaign on choice.

Plus if that's not bad enough, look at the typical comment - anonymously, of course - made to my principled argument against Collins's stated desire to increase excise taxes on alcohol:
We'd all rather you opted out Mr Hubbard, that way we wouldn't need to listen to your incessant Libertarian whining. Why dont you and your 3 mates do a Tamaki and go and found a new Randite cite somewhere south of Gore?
That anonymous coward's vote has as much influence over my life, as my own does. Democracy; it's way past it's use-by date. My next post will be how my rights to liberty are not inalienable, unfortunately, counter to what both the Founding Fathers and Ayn Rand thought, and thus how my pursuit of happiness is lost to the unprincipled thuggery of wowsers and compulsion touters like this. Then I'm going to turn the light of truth on this increasingly tyrannous thing called democracy. I'm pretty over it all.


Question for the wowsers and compulsion touters: why do you think we have teenagers with no sense of self responsibility that conduct this ludicrous behaviour? Excise taxes that destroy my responsible enjoyment of alcohol merely treat a symptom, not the cause.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Of Taxing Double-Standards and No Beer

The IMF boss, Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde, has made the headlines this week villifying Greek taxpayers for not paying enough tax, laying the blame for Greece's woes on people greedily wanting to keep their own hard earned cash. Ignoring the fact that, to name a single instance, Greek state rail employs more people than it has passengers, meaning it would be cheaper for the Greek taxpayer to buy all the passengers of Greek state rail a taxi chit, indicating complete bureaucratic mismanagement on a scale that could not be fixed other than by the economic collapse we are witnessing, what Christine forgot to fess up to was the double-standard that she pays no tax at all on her grandiose salary, paid for by the enslaved taxpayers of the world:


Christine Lagarde, the IMF boss who caused international outrage after she suggested in an interview with the Guardian on Friday that beleaguered Greeks might do well to pay their taxes, pays no taxes, it has emerged.

As an official of an international institution, her salary of $467,940 (£298,675) a year plus $83,760 additional allowance a year is not subject to any taxes.

[Snip]

Lagarde, 56, receives a pay and benefits package worth more than American president Barack Obama earns from the United States government, and he pays taxes on it.

The same applies to nearly all United Nations employees – article 34 of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations of 1961, which has been signed by 187 states, declares: "A diplomatic agent shall be exempt from all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal."


At the heart of the Western police states, what really makes me angry living behind the IRon Drape, is the immorality of the whole damned, fetid edifice. 


And closer to home, if you enjoyed a Good Bastards beer from The West Coast Brewery, well, I have to call on the final round. IRD solicitor Helen Sumner has decided because of unpaid taxes, penalties and interest, it's better in this world-wide recession - and freedom can go hang itself - to liquidate The West Coast Brewery and its workers, and create another burden for those of us still left to shoulder the voracious tax appetite of our politicians. Why isn't IRD culpable for the economic harm they cause? (Rhetorical question, of course).

The tax amount aside, the truly obscene aspect of this story is how this company's tax bill grew, upon penalties and interest that would have made Al Capone blush, from $87,500 to the current total of $234,000. As Paddy Sweeney, the brewery's founder, says:


"Between the global financial crisis and the earthquakes, it hasn't been an easy time. The original amount ... had trebled in the three years since [the debt was incurred] because of penalties and compound interest. ...[These penalties] are a blight for how the government treated businesses trying to put matters right."


I would say it's simply a 'blight for how the government treated businesses', period.

There was a major revolution for freedom fought 236 years ago over less than the abuses Western governments now exact on the tax-slaves forced to pay-up for their tyrannies. Shame on you for allowing this to happen, Peter Dunne. If you were honourable, you would step down.

At the very least, something has to be done about the IRD penalty and interest system. It's the final brass knuckle of state being put into a business when it's on hard times, and it's driving good men and women to drink, and to the brink.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rousseau and ‘The Social Contract’ (1762). Clearing the Confusion.


I have found from too many debates with Statists (Left and Conservative Right), including an IRD staffer, when they are trying to justify my having to live behind an IRon Drape, subject to the whim of slave making tax laws which are enforced by the full power of a brute totalitarian state, that the ultimate recourse for them is to ‘the social contract’. Because of the ‘social contract’ I am forced to give one third, at least, of my labour to the state to fund a system I have little agreement with; because of the social contract I must attend any desired interrogation by an IRD officer on pain of the highest sanction of the law, my freedom, and my livelihood; because of the social contract I am to have no privacy whatsoever from an IRD officer. Because of the social contract, in other words, I am to live, apparently, as a barbarian: a life subject to the whim of the majority, my effort not my own, every detail of my life to be  given to the bureaucracy on demand, even though I have harmed no one.

Pardon?

We have become so immured in the corrupted big-nosing ethic and immorality of the police state, that those who rule us with their perfumed fists, and manicured coifs, don’t even know the meaning of the social contract, anymore, nor do most of those happy to live as slaves, who would force free men to live, bound, with them. Quoting from a work in progress – (novel) initial draft, so heavily cribbed for now – let’s (re)understand the nature of the social contract as it was intended, rather than the sick, perverted travesty it has become:

… the originator of the term was Rousseau in his 1762 treatise 'The Social Contract'. Significantly, that document starts, quote: 'Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.' Moreover, Rousseau argued that in a society founded on laws devised upon mans’ reason, that is, the rule of law, no man would, or should, logically, surrender his freedom for a state of slavery. The contract was at its heart about safeguarding rights to property, and better, an individual was free to exit such a contract, and be as free again as when he was born.


Think how far this is removed from how we are forced to live behind the IRon Drapes of the taxation legislation in our Western police states. The social contract, according to Rousseau, and according to classical liberalism, was only ever about creating the conditions for a civilising freedom, by protecting that smallest minority in any society: the individual. Under the rule of law the state would protect that individual from the use of force, on the understanding that individuals would exercise those responsibilities that make it possible for us all to live in a free society – the primary responsibility being for one’s own life, and the acknowledgement that no man’s need forms an enforceable claim on the life of a total stranger (that is solely in the realm of compassion, namely, the noble acts of generosity and charity). The problem is that under the cynicism of the Left, of Statists of all hues, the state has now assumed those responsibilities that should solely have been in the purview of the individual, and so we have had voted in, on the bribes of irresponsible and immoral politicians, the Thug State, where the Thug State is now the chief abuser of my rights as a free man, and is consequently the chief initiator of force on me. We are far closer to the trapped, slave society of Soviet Russia (for KGB, secret police, read IRD – they have all the same powers of snooping, search and seizure), than to the civilised free society envisaged by Rousseau in his social contract. And listening to Statists, including every politician in parliament, use the social contract as the justification of the state’s use of force on me, makes my skin crawl, as it would have Rousseau’s.


And what allowed the Statists’ to do this to free men? I’m beginning to think the fault partly lay at the feet of the flawed thinking of too many free men, though I don't blame them for it: unlike the cynical Left, they have been too gullible, too trusting: that is, too many of us, from the Founding Fathers to Ayn Rand, have thought that rights, including all those rights that allow our freedom, are metaphysical, a ‘given’. They’re not, the very IRon Drapes we live behind are the proof of it:  the lack of vigilance this confusion has caused has been lethal. A comment in a post from Lindsay Perigo at his excellent SOLO site, has finally opened my eyes to the nature of what is required for me to be a free men, in this respect, and so this topic will be the subject of my next blog post.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Zero budget - no. Nazi budget -yes.

In New Zealand's 2012 budget, Bill English just grew the fascist thug state by an extraordinary extent. The money allocations to health and education sounded like a Labour Party lolly scramble; there is in this budget only the further expansion of the state. As Clive James said of the Soviets, they thought they had free health care, but it ended up costing them everything they had. Well English just imported that hollow ethos to New Zealand. Significantly, the first money allocation in Herr English's speech was a huge $78.5 million to IRD audit. Now move your eyes up and read my blog by-line again. Read it, the paragraph in italics: understand what is funding every other allocation to the state. $78.5 million into the systematic persecution of this country's productive, who, unlike this government, haven't lifted a finger to initiate force on their fellow man.

Bill English, please take this personally, you are a true National Socialist: you are my enemy, as you are the enemy of all free men. I suggest you wear a brown shirt to Parliament from now on. I'm too angry to write anything further. When will there be the Western Spring, to wrest our liberty back?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Jennie Erdal - The Missing Shade of Blue | Deconstructing Hume


This piece started out as a simple book review written for Amazon, then morphed into a short essay deconstructing Erdal, via Hume. I use the term 'deconstruction' deceptively, given my purpose is to highlight the contradictions of this dead-end to literary criticism, and to point out the same contradictions in the moral dead-end of Hume, for whom the meticulous concern of finding the right words to express himself, confounded the dangerous ideas he used those words to express, and thereby undid him. Objectivism - my agenda, clearly stated - has no fear regarding the inherent nature and beauty of language; deconstruction, rather than a cleverly pointless subjectivist deceit, simply translates to 'real world' premise checking. So here we go: my new - quite possibly clumsy - integration, the essview.

________________________________________________________________

Let's get perfunctory matters out of the way: Scottish writer Jennie Erdal's novel The Missing Shade of Blue is a fabulous book. The copy reviewed below was a Kindle download I purchased from Amazon and read on an iPad, and I'm pleased to say, unlike some ebook offerings, has high production values that made it as pleasant to read as a dead-tree counterpart. Better, the start of the novel, on the iPad at least, takes you to the cover page, which is surprisingly rare with ebooks, given the trend to dull the importance of cover art which remains a weakness in the ebook revolution. (Publishers', I want my cover art - don't cheapskate on that, please.)

In almost all ways that matter, Erdal has ticked, with this novel, all my reading pleasure centres.

In the age of Generation Text, if you like a deep read that proudly proclaims itself a philosophical novel and really delivers on weighty subject matter to make a reader think about the world they inhabit both physically and in their head: this is a fabulous, refreshing book.

Conversely, if you like whimsical, playful writing exquisitely delivered with a deft, Scottish dry humour: this is a fabulous book.

If you like writing anchored in a geographic place (Edinburgh): this is a fabulous book.

And if you like fly fishing, (and by good chance I'd already decided to learn fly fishing this winter), then this is a fabulous book.

Although, in this review, if you like the work of eighteenth century Scottish philosopher, David Hume, then be warned, he's about to get an Objectivist drubbing: albeit that is a matter attaching not to the class of this novel, but the muddled mind of Mr Hume. Given the clever architecture of Erdal's novel is, itself, built upon a Humean construct,I can only unravel the truths lit up in it, by first shining the torch of reason on the deadly contradictions of David Hume.

I read everything with the mind of a writer (even if my negligible creative publishing record would suggest, not a good one). From that, I am guided by Orwell's quoted desire to turn political writing into art, and though Erdal's novel is not political, there can be no politick without the secular trinity of philosophy and economics which are informed by it, and it by them. Thus, I fell into the purchase of The Missing Shade of Blue easily after being directed from (sadly deceased) Denis Dutton's 'Arts and Letters Daily' blog to an essay by Erdal in The Financial Times on the philosophical novel, musing if such a novel was still possible (1). The irony being such a novel is possible, here it is, but it had to be based on Hume, the thinking of whom I am implacably opposed to. I am aware my interpretation below at times runs counter to Erdal's own writing on her novel in the mentioned essay: for a start she sees Hume as benign - pfui - however, I don't believe these differences diminish either the novel (certainly), or my interpretation, and this perhaps because Erdal is hamstrung by the same contradiction that cripples Hume. Objectivists understand there can be no contradictions, so when you come up against one, it's time to check your premises, or in this case, Erdal's, which is what I propose to do.

I shall go outside the text of the novel to get immediately to my central problem with Mr Hume:


The rules of morality are not the conclusions of our reason." – David Hume

In that single, small sentence, lies the gate open to fascism, communism, and every type of coercive mysticism that has ensured the field of human endeavour is strewn with the blood of free men. In that is the brute fist punching insanely at the heart of liberty, forever. Upon Hume's repudiation of reason there can be no civilising morality of man qua man, there can be no notion of that only economic system existing on the voluntary interactions of individuals, namely, laissez faire capitalism, without which, my pursuit of happiness is not even possible. And happiness forms a major theme in this novel, with the central character having published a book on it, even though his own happiness is shattered on the perilous rocks of Hume's further twisted (il)logic - inevitable after casting reason aside - that a man's free will is nothing more than an illusion. It is this that Erdal has constructed her novel around. In Hume's anti-reason immorality lies the meaningless anarchy that becomes the life of the central character, academic philosopher, Harry Sanderson. If an individual has no freewill, if there is no reason, then the individual is but a slave of the whim and caprice of a mob or a fad, whether that be the tyranny of the majority in our western social democracies, enforced by the fist of the State and the planned economy built on planned lives, or on religion, on tradition worship for the sake of it, or the latest teenage fad. He/she is, like Sanderson himself, the victim of the unknowable chaos of their natures, or as he words it; 'randomness was largely what determined the future. Along with chance and absurdity - 'its close cousins'.

Harry Sanderson's life becomes, in microcosm, a symbol of all the forces operating that have built the new Western IRon Drapes that we must now all cower behind, where tax legislation has become the legislation of the modern Big Brother police state. His type of (non)thinking created the intellectual vacuum that allowed politicians to bribe themselves to power by promising to take responsibility off (non-thinking)individuals for even living, in that economic illusion of our welfare states which are now, as they always were going to do, destroying the planned economies of the greater part of Europe, as well as the US; wiping out with them large portions of the middle classes.

Harry Sanderson's academic book on happiness in the novel had to be doomed, because according to Hume we can know nothing, certainly not what happiness is. And I find it interesting, and heartening, through the character of Harry, that Erdal acknowledges this, and it is thus in this I find myself very close to her, the writer peering over the prose, because a chief concern she has for herself is why, then, if 'we can't know', is she writing at all. And it is on this notion that the philosophical underpinning of the novel spreads thankfully outside of Hume to something all writers, and all readers, are ultimately concerned with: that nebulous thing called 'Truth'. I have little idea of Erdal's position on the secular trinity of man (philosophy, economics, politics), but in this, we (writer and reader), are looking each other as co-adventurers in the eye, and the fact that Erdal spends some good part of the novel reasoning on this, rightly puts a quill through the hoary old mind of Hume, even though this was contrary to Erdal's intent, for it points out the central contradiction that undoes Hume: that he has to use reason to negate reason. That if we can't know anything, we cannot communicate at all, there is thus no art, certainly no literature; and yet he has communicated his rotten, contradictory nonsense over three hundred years, and we do have art, we do have literature. It is for this reason I found Erdal's essay comment on the benign Mr Hume, confusing, until I came to understand she is caught in the same contradiction. What happens to Harry Sanderson is the acting out of Hume's repudiation of reason, and it is not benign. Further, in Erdal's novel the truth that becomes possible is 'the knowing', and it is derived by her reasoning, albeit, of course, such reasoning coming from her characters experiencing reality through the plot she arranges for them.

The way Erdal intellectually has approached this theme, the nature of literature and truth, is genius. The narrator of the novel, 'Eddie' Logan, is a Frenchman, a translator, in Edinburgh to translate Hume. Via him, and the painter Carrie Sanderson, the author is able to look at the purpose of art through two quite differing lenses. Erdal states her premise in this regard clearly, allowing - one of her basic devices - the philosopher Sanderson to state what was on her own mind:


"... literature can solve more things than philosophy. Philosophy is good at asking the questions, but literature gets closer to the answers."

Recalling the opening of this review, the deft dry humour that permeates this novel, there is of course a perfect foil for this notion, just so the 'artist' doesn't get too high an opinion of themselves, in the form of Eddie Logan's house-keeper:


"She didn't see much point in books - ... You could find everything you needed to know just by living."

But this is much more than mere comedic counter-foil: it strikes at the punch-drunk heart of the Humean contradiction Erdal herself has become caught in. The house-keeper is expressing Hume's notion, the contradiction, that truth (despite truth can't exist for Hume) cannot be known through reasoning, but only by 'experiencing': missing the fact that experiencing can only have meaning/truth via the 'translating' of our reason to make sense of what has been experienced. The mind is not separate from the body, and certainly not from reality, if we are to survive, at least, as Objectivists know. It is here we see the direct same contradiction is indeed playing out within Erdal's novel, despite the novel remains self-contained. Predominantly through the reasoning based on his experiences, the narrator, translator (there are so many ways the act of translating are important), Eddie, translates for the reader the truths of which literature is capable. Erdal covers a lot of territory, in what is quite a short novel, in pursuing this. For example, the answers given for living that might be gained from literature are certainly not to be found in organised religion. Carrie's fictional son, Alfie, is cared for in a psychiatric unit; on coming home from the Christmas function, Carrie states:


"During the sermon the chaplain had interpreted everything – every good thing, every bad thing, every damned thing – as a sign of God’s plan. ‘He was seeing signs everywhere,’ she said, ‘just like the inmates.’ And yet he was free to leave the building afterwards, while they had to return to their rooms for treatment."

Good, that takes the mystical BS out of it, so the answers must at least be earthly. And indeed they are. I think she gives three different answers to be sought. The first applies to the artist only; Eddie interpreting again:


"It occurred to me then that as a translator, or as an artist, it was possible to lead a quiet and honourable existence. There was no cheating involved, no double-crossing. No one was harmed in the process. Your integrity was all wrapped up in the words or in the brushstrokes."

So a way for the artist to be at peace in their world. The next is for both artist and reader and is central to what this novel is about:


"... claiming that a good novel was like a small miracle. She gave me a quizzical look, as if to check whether I was serious. Miracle? she said. Only figuratively, I said, in that fiction allowed us to live lives other than our own. ‘Provided it’s well written, you’re carried along, waiting for everything to unfold – even if you know in advance what’s going to happen.’ And every so often, I said, something emerged from a novel that could only be called truth – there was no other name for it."

Translating this again, for myself this time, it connects to how and why I read, which is the act of reading almost as what we might understand by the religious experience. Reading performs many of the functions of a religion for me: it calms me, takes away my problems of the moment, I'm normally relaxed and interested when reading, certainly engaged, and by some indefinable 'how' it is meaning for me, just the act of reading fiction. It's a very personal, individual activity. So, after the (thankful) death of religion proper, and the function that had historically, now we have the religious experience through the arts, but on a Damascene road of solely human making.

Finally, Erdal broadens out her themes again. Throughout the novel Eddie, paralleling his job as translator, literally, is merely the cypher. He is there to observe the Sandersons' and report to the reader, while along the way we learn of his parents' history. He is almost a non-entity, living vicariously through the lives of the other characters, just as a translator he lives through the lives of those he is translating. There is another Humean theme playing out here, as we see him, in absence of meaning in his own life - he had a complete breakdown when he was young - living very much according to tradition for the sake of it, being his childhood, and trapped in it, more boy than man. Thus Erdal's final truth: the translator places his feet firmly on the earth, starts living in the moment, and ceases to be the mere scribe to start experiencing life/joy/joie first hand through fellowship with humans, namely, on holiday with Carrie and Alfie:


"Above all I felt an ordinary connectedness to another human being, another way of life. Or rather, a reconnecting – to things I had forgotten, or never known."

And I believe Erdal meant this to be the Humean 'truth through experiencing', though, of course, it's not. Eddie only understands this truth by reasoning (note that, from the application of his reason) over the experiences he has once he starts interacting, finally, on the basis of first Eddie qua Carrie, and then Eddie qua Carrie/Alfie.

Finally, returning to 'review mode', and breaking out from the essay I've slipped into - academic habits don't die, apparently - I can't end without re-referencing the humour throughout the novel. The Kindle version of The Missing Shade of Blue can be purchased from Amazon for just US$9.99. That price alone would be worth it for reading the single chapter where the Humean disaster, Scottish philosopher, Harry Sanderson, is practically forced on the US talk show circuit discussing happiness. Comparing the bright-eyed Bible-belting American pursuit of happiness to a Scot's dour irony - 'the humour of the defeated' - is the most comical, and keenly observed rendition of cultural difference you will have read for a long while.

Jennie Erdal has certainly made it to my reading list. I'll be looking out for her next novel in anticipation of more deep, whimsical, funny, sad, innocent, cynical epiphanies. And just a damned good read.

... But watch out for Hume. He's the road to the Gulag. Really. And on that score Jennie Erdal may want to check her premises ;)



Writer may be contacted at: mhubbard@ihug.co.nz




(1) Erdal's essay: What's The Big Idea.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quotation: Economic Liberty Essential For Literature

In a broadcast over June, 1941, George Orwell made the point that literature depends on economic liberty for its existence. And what he said then, is no less true today, as economic liberty, which is individual liberty, is squashed in the West under the weight of socialism, or as Orwell aptly names it, state capitalism. For those who believe a thriving arts sector is dependent on state funding, I say it's the death of the arts, because it's part of the process that is pushing the individual into the margins of the new police states that have been voted in behind the IRon Drape.
From his Literature and Totalitarianism:
... Modern literature is essentially an individual thing. It is either the truthful expression of what one man thinks and feels, or it is nothing.
As I say, we take this notion for granted, and yet as soon as one puts it into words one realizes how literature is menaced. For this is the age of the totalitarian state, which does not and probably cannot allow the individual any freedom whatever. When one mentions totalitarianism one thinks immediately of Germany, Russia, Italy, but I think one must face the risk that this phenomenon is going to be world-wide. It is obvious that the period of free capitalism is coming to an end and that one country after another is adopting a centralized economy that one can call Socialism or state capitalism according as one prefers. With that the economic liberty of the individual, and to a great extent his liberty to do what he likes, to choose his own work, to move to and fro across the surface of the earth, comes to an end. Now, till recently the implications of this were not foreseen. It was never fully realized that the disappearance of economic liberty would have any effect on intellectual liberty. Socialism was usually thought of as a sort of moralized liberalism. The state would take charge of your economic life and set you free from the fear of poverty, unemployment and so forth, but it would have no need to interfere with your private intellectual life. Art could flourish just as it had done in the liberal-capitalist age, only a little more so, because the artist would not any longer be under economic compulsions.
Now, on the existing evidence, one must admit that these ideas have been falsified.