I’m a lefty. No, really, I am. I’m a liberal, a progressive and a radical. Liberals are, as the word itself suggests, concerned with liberty, as I am. Progressives are those who believe in the power of the State to make things better and I most certainly agree with that. Radicals are those who think that we cannot simply tinker at the edges, we need some fairly major changes. About the only way in which I disagree with the basic propositions as usually understood is that in terms of progressivism I think that one of the ways the State can make things better is to stop doing some of the damn fool things it’s already doing.
Yes, the state (almost certainly) can do some things better than even the most harmonious collective, e.g. defence and, possibly, criminal justice. Maybe, in some far off time, individuals will have learnt how to eliminate the state entirely and live in a state of good-natured anarchism, but I do not believe that that time is now. So, whilst I believe that the state is bad and should do as little as possible, it is—at this stage of our evolution—a necessary evil.
Which is why I describe myself as a minarchist from an anarchist stance.
But how can I think that and be a Lefty? How can I be a Lefty and support free markets, free trade, capitalism and so on?
So, as such a lefty, why am I so in favour of things like markets, free trade, capitalism and so on? Those things which are generally thought of as the preserve of the “right”? (Let us leave aside that “the right” ain’t been a friend of free trade shall we?)
Because they work.
If what you want is that the poor get richer, if what you want is an improvement in general living standards, if what you want is that the absolutely poor become only the relatively poor, then capitalism, markets and free trade are the only games in town.
Quite. Timmy offers up his exposition as a justification for his continuing, and most enjoyable, critiquing of Richard Murphy. But I'm afraid that I must take issue with Timmy on one aspect of said justification. [Emphasis mine.]
Which is why I Rag on Ritchie quite so much. To the possible point of obsession. I do him the courtesy of assuming that he wants just what I do. A better and richer world for those currently stuck in the absolute poverty that has been humanity’s historical lot. Certainly he works with a lot of organisations who claim that this is their aim (Action Aid, Oxfam I think, Christian Aid and so on). It’s just that his actual suggestions of how to get from here to our jointly desired goal strike me as entirely wrong.
And as such, as suggestions which are entirely wrong, they should be critiqued in the hope that by doing so his suggestions can be improved. For we do both desire exactly the same thing. That those in Africa, indeed those anywhere, should become just as fat, rich and happy as we pinkish people who by historical happenstance were the first to leave the Malthusian world behind.
I'm afraid that Tim Worstall—by virtue of being a nice man—gives Ritchie far too much credit: I don't think that Ritchie gives two fucking shits about whether poor people become any richer. You see, Timmy assumes that Richard Murphy is, at heart, a decent human being: I don't.
I think that Richard Murphy is a deeply evil man: the kind of man who cares more about his reputation, his own bank account, his personal bugbears and his disgusting personal morality than he does about the poor or their progression towards being "fat, rich and happy".
How else can a man who claims to know anything about economics possibly support more taxation, more stifling of trade and more state intervention? All of the evidence shows that these things make people poorer—and yet all of these are things that Richard Murphy advocates.
Therefore, Richard Murphy does not care about the poor, and therefore Richard Murphy is a deeply evil human being.
After all, if Richard Murphy doesn't believe Timmy—or any of those others with economic training and experience—then he might, perhaps, believe the IPCC's SRES reports. These are supposed to be the pinnacle of economic modelling, and what measures do they recommend—in their A1 family of scenarios—that we adopt for maximum wealth?
The A1 storyline is a case of rapid and successful economic development, in which regional average income per capita converge - current distinctions between "poor" and "rich" countries eventually dissolve. The primary dynamics are:
- Strong commitment to market-based solutions.
- High savings and commitment to education at the household level.
- High rates of investment and innovation in education, technology, and institutions at the national and international levels.
- International mobility of people, ideas, and technology.
The transition to economic convergence results from advances in transport and communication technology, shifts in national policies on immigration and education, and international cooperation in the development of national and international institutions that enhance productivity growth and technology diffusion.
This may be the type of scenario best represented in recent literature (e.g., Shinn, 1985; UN, 1990; Schwartz, 1991; Peterson, 1994; Gallopin et al., 1997; Glenn and Gordon, 1997, 1999; Lawrence et al., 1997; Hammond, 1998; Raskin et al., 1998). Such scenarios are dominated by an American or European entrepreneurial, progress-oriented perspective in which technology, especially communication technology, plays a central role. Wilkerson (1995) designed various scenarios that share features with A1. They emphasize market-oriented solutions, high consumption of both tangible and intangible commodities, advanced technology, and intensive mobility and communication.
Ritchie denies the weight of respected economists in theory and the plethora of evidence in actuality and—for the benefit of his own prejudices and his own fat wallet—actively lobbies people to pursue a selection of courses which he must know will keep people around the world in grinding poverty, suffering lives of privation, preventable disease and premature death.
In short, in the face of all the evidence, Richard Murphy not only supports but actively encourages measures that will lead to the unnecessary deaths of millions of people. In my book, that makes Richard Murphy a deeply evil man.
I did not always think this way: when I first encountered his particular brand of lunacy—back in June 2006—I thought that maybe he was simply stupid. As I have read more of his insane burblings—creating my own Murphy's Law series as well as following Timmy's " ragging on Ritchie" series—I have swung around to the idea that he is not (totally) moronic and that he is not ignorant. And if he is not completely stupid and he is not uninformed but he still advocates measures that will kill people, then Richard Murphy must, therefore, be evil.
Quod erat demonstrandum.