As we all understand, the fundamental divide between left and right is the issue of personal responsibility.
We on the right believe that the world is a better place if individuals - or more specifically families - take responsibility for themselves. Economics is all about how self-interest not only drives our lives, but underpins stable and mutually beneficial relationships between us (eg see this blog). From the economy, to education, to health, to welfare, the right believes when governments get involved beyond law and war, the long-term consequences are almost always dire.
The left believes the exact opposite. They believe the world is better if planned and managed by a benevolent dictator who goes by the name of "Society". For the left, the apparent randomness of markets is the law of the jungle, and individual differences in talent and interest a monstrous inequity. They believe that markets are an indulgence, or as the late John Smith put it to Tyler on a City lunch tour, "markets where possible, government where necessary". They believe "equity" trumps growth, and they believe there is no such thing as individual failure, only social failure.
Of course, to go along with the left you have to believe that government can actually deliver what it promises. And as we document on BOM every day, there is precious little evidence of that. Indeed, even if you accept markets fail from time to time (eg the current credit crunch), government failure is a whole lot worse: lack of competition, one-size-fits-all, producer capture, lack of innovation, perverse incentives... we blog it all right here.
Of course. And, equally, all but the most hopelessly naive know that we are going to continue to blog such failures, with very little variation other than the names of the major players, once the slightly-less-statist-but-not-in-any-meaningful-way Tories take over.
A few months back we looked at Moorside Road Dewsbury, the road where "kidnapped" Shannon Matthews lived. Some of the neighbours are pictured above celebrating Shannon's return. We surmise one or two of them might be suitable candidates for our moral duty.
As we discovered, the residents of Moorside Road have some serious issues: high crime, poor education, high unemployment/incapacity/lone parent welfare dependency, and family dysfunction. Looking at the pic, I'm guessing life expectancy is also low.
The left's response is more welfare and more government support. But in truth, money is not the issue. As we discovered, the average household income is getting on for £30 grand pa, and is within 20% of the national average.
The issue is the people, and how they choose to live their lives. And the 60 years of welfare state which has clearly failed them so badly (cf Glasgow East).
So what is our real moral duty?
It's surely to help them take responsibility for themselves. And for Moorside Road, that means above all else, increasing the financial incentive to work, and cutting the financial incentive to doss around drinking 22p lager and producing stacks of no-hope kids.
The point being, you see, that we should not pay over enormous amounts of money to people who will then exacerbate the problems in their society.
So, do we see the parallels between socialism's disastrous intervention in places such as Glasgow East and Dewsbury, and our intervention in Africa?
Have we all read Irish journo Kevin Myers' teeth-grinding articles on aid to Africa (HTP DTH)? If not, you really should, and you can do so here, here, and here.
In summary—and treading a non-PC path few dare to venture along—Myers argues that Western aid to Africa is condemning that tragic continent to a demographic disaster. Highlighting the case of Ethiopia, where he was a reporter during the great 1980s "Feed the World" famine, he says:By 2050, the population of Ethiopia will be 177 million: The equivalent of France, Germany and Benelux today, but located on the parched and increasingly protein-free wastelands of the Great Rift Valley.
So, how much sense does it make for us actively to increase the adult population of what is already a vastly over-populated, environmentally devastated and economically dependent country? How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them? Of course, it might make you feel better, which is a prime reason for so much charity. But that is not good enough.
For self-serving generosity has been one of the curses of Africa. It has sustained political systems which would otherwise have collapsed. It prolonged the Eritrean-Ethiopian war by nearly a decade. It is inspiring Bill Gates' programme to rid the continent of malaria, when, in the almost complete absence of personal self-discipline, that disease is one of the most efficacious forms of population-control now operating. If his programme is successful, tens of millions of children who would otherwise have died in infancy will survive to adulthood, he boasts. Oh good: then what?
I know. Let them all come here. Yes, that's an idea.
It's the Heart of Darkness, made infinitely worse by hundreds of billions of guilt money poured in by Western governments. It's truly sick.
So, in Africa we hand over billions of pounds of aid, which ensures that the feckless and downright evil can continue to oppress, terrorise and exploit the productive, whilst popping out thousands of kids whom they are unable to support and who will live lives with no more meaning than their parents'...
... and in places like Dewsbury and Glasgow East we hand over billions of pounds of aid, which ensures that the feckless and downright evil can continue to oppress, terrorise and exploit the productive, whilst popping out thousands of kids whom they are unable to support and who will live lives with no more meaning than their parents'.
As Wat says, it is a sick system—though motivated by kindly ideals—and helps to condemn millions to lives of misery and both financial and intellectual poverty.
Socialism is evil. And the frustrating thing about socialists is that most of them mean well, but they refuse to look at the actual disastrous results of their creed or, if they do, they refuse to see it as evil.