Thursday, June 01, 2006

Can Britain be saved?

Mrs Paine is firmly of the opinion that Britain is a lost cause. She and I are old enough to remember the Labour Governments of the 1970's and the chaos they created. We are old enough to recall the humiliation of the IMF sending in the bailiff's men and ordering Labour to stop spending. We recall the hyper-inflation that wiped out our grandparents' savings (and our parents' debts).

We thanked our stars when Margaret Thatcher came along. She applied "good housekeeping" principles to the national economy, to extraordinary effect. At the time, the most extraordinary thing was to realise that generations of politicians had thought it ran on different principles (or - more likely - had not cared that it did not).

For a while, it seemed the nation had woken up from the 1940's fantasy that had seen two generations impoverish their descendants by creating a welfare state which doled out unfunded "benefits".

Yet for all the pain she put us through to restore economic sanity, we have reverted to pre-Thatcher type. The State consumes about the same proportion of resources as in 1978 and employs about the same percentage of our people. To the extent things are different, they are worse. At least some 1970's State employees produced something of value (steel, electricity, cars etc.) albeit very inefficiently. The present lot are mostly about as useful as fleas on a dog. And whoever heard of fleas so bloated and numerous that they weigh more than the dog itself?

It seems that we only went along with Thatcher because we had no choice. Deep in our hearts we still long (for all the evidence of the 20th Century's bloody experiment with Socialism) for a Socialist fairyland where we can spend what others self-sacrificingly earn.

Now, as then, every academic, every commentator, everybody the media might ever listen to, is a Socialist true-believer. To be right wing, as then, is so far out of fashion that even the Conservative leadership has to focus on "social issues". Just as Margaret herself spoke of the "social market economy" rather than the honest-to-Adam-Smith "market economy", so David Cameron speaks of "quality of life" (as if any such thing were in any Government's gift).

All this leads Mrs Paine to think that we are lost. We have learned nothing. We are economically illiterate and naive in the extreme. I refuse to give in to such pessimism. What was done once can be done again. We must learn from Margaret's errors to make sure that - this time - the rules of the game are changed permanently.

Margaret's main mistake was to believe in our institutions. At the helm of our dilapidated ship of state she was such a marvelous sailor that the old vessel answered her every command. But the seas were changing and a new vessel was needed. This she neglected entirely. She had a marvelous opportunity for root and branch constitutional reform. She missed it, and New Labour has corruptly warped our constitution to his own political ends.

A new Conservative Government has a huge task ahead of it. Fundamental reform is needed. We need a democratic upper house of Parliament, with full power to review and improve legislation. Our education system needs radical change, so as to be refocused on developing our brightest and best. Our benefits culture needs to be smashed and the underclass exposed to the realities of life. A massive prison-building programme is required in preparation for the most enormous crackdown on fraudsters - including all those millions "on the sick" indefinitely.

This will cost money. Maybe the Shadow Chancellor is right not to promise immediate tax cuts. But once the members of the criminal underclass have been given a stern lesson that the nation does not exist for their benefit, huge savings should begin to feed through.

It's a huge challenge, but no more difficult than the tasks Margaret Thatcher faced. If the Conservatives fail, then Mrs Paine is right and all sane men should abandon these islands.


Ellee Seymour said...

Hi Tom,

I'm not sure what your Russian connection means. I've probably got it completely wrong, but I am fascinated with the country, visited Moscow and Leningrad in long distant days with Cambridge and University Explorers' Club, taught myself the cyrillic alphabet and travelled solo, full of confidence with a love of adventure. I am still that kind of person.

As to the future of Britain, I really don't know. The fact is, our young generation know so little about respect. When I visit Europe, I see a totally different culture of young people with all generations mingling happily together. Our values are so different in this country.

Some sane men have abandoned these islands - read about my my fenny friend on my blogroll who now lives in Switzerland. The UK is in many ways a third world country.

Tom Paine said...

My connection is that I live here. I am an English expat. I am due to retire in the next 10 years and frankly scared to return. Taxes are rising crazily (and the Tories are not proposing to do anything about it). My retirement fund is offshore but would have to be repatriated if I came back to retire. Given that further NuLab and BluLab incompetence is likely to lead to capital flight/exchange controls and/or hyperinflation at some point, I am not sure I want my money in the Chancellor's reach again. More importantly, I am concerned at continuing attacks on civil liberties (and the apparently lack of concern about that on the part of (a) voters and (b) the Tories). Sane men are abandoning the islands in their tens of thousands every year, but that is masked by mass immigration from the undeveloped world, leading to net population growth. It's a sort of population transfusion which does nothing for liberty and justice as many immigrants are coming from countries with no such traditions. I think we could easily drift into a police state. The people seem completely docile.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has spent a few years on benefits in the past, and latterly disability benefits for one of the worst disabling mental illnesses, I have to wonder how I could have got through the time without them, and more importantly, how I could have obtained a Bachelor's degree in computing without the financial assistance of these "sick" benefits.

Perhaps in your world, I should have been left to fend for myself with such an illness, and been begging on the streets as in America, when all I needed was a little compassion - something you appear to lack.

Tom Paine said...

Anonymous, don't be ridiculous. There are no more people begging on the streets in America than in Britain. Welfare provision there is more than adequate (the amounts expended are actually greater than the amount statistically required to raise the poor out of poverty, but of course they are "churned" through almost as wasteful a bureaucracy as in Britain). Read PJ O'Rourke on the subject. They have problems of "welfare dependency" too, which is a dead giveaway that provision is more than adequate.

If America were as vile a place as the British (and American) Left suggest, one wonders why people continue to move there. No doubt they are all misguided and in need of forcible re-education? No doubt their parents who wave them off sadly are in need of "parenting classes" from the all-wise British State? You must be the kind of person who believes that poor ill people are left to die in the streets anywhere they don't have the National Health Service! For God's sake, if you have the smarts to get a degree, you can get to a library and read a little more widely.

"Fending for myself" is the proud claim of any decent individual. All I know of you is what you have written but you have said nothing to explain why your fellow men should have fended for you while you were studying. I don't know enough to opine.

Of course there should be provision for those of the sick who are genuinely disabled and have no resource to provide for themselves. Just don't tell me that's what we now have in Britain. Unlike wetter members of the middle classes I grew up in a working class area. I still have friends and family there. I know how many of the underclass are now living permanently on a combination of fraudulent benefits and other crime. Real working people who live in sight of these bastards are furious that they are being taxed to buy their drugs, ale and junk food. They hate them, as any healthy animal hates parasites.

There is a reason why the British are more likely to be "too sick to work" than the Germans, and it's not medical. Unemployment figures have been manipulated by encouraging people onto disability benefits and then turning a blind eye to abuses. Labour Governments systematically cultivate dependency so as to leave millions with no apparent choice but to vote for them. That's not compassion. Socialist politicians are as vicious and cynical as drug dealers, but blight far more lives. They enjoy similar lifestyles too, have you noticed?

These are many people in Britain who don't work and don't know anyone who does. Third generation freeloaders content to have enough money for nothing to buy their drugs and live their shiftless, destructive, predatory lives. An actual majority of the population now derives some part of its income from benefits, which makes a mockery of the original compassionate intent. Have you heard of "fiscal churn", do you know how stupid it is to take £100 from me and then give back £75 in family "benefits". [This is a theoretical example, I deliberately did not claim benefits for my children who have been entirely reared in the private sector and "owe" the State nothing].

You don't know me. You don't know how compassionate I am, or not. All you know is that - like many in Britain - I am sick of the place being run for the benefit of thieves and skivers.