Thursday, 8 October 2015
Roll your own
David Cameron had a rapturous reception to his grandstanding closing speech at the party conference. Of course he did; everybody has one eye on keeping their job after all. But did his High Chaparral, sunlit uplands, aspiration-heavy schmoozing actually hold water? It would be nice to think so, but we’ve been here many times before. I have no doubt he is sincere – who wouldn’t want to make the world a better place? But words are cheap and plentiful; cheap because they are plentiful. The laws of supply and demand work just as well on oratory as they do on economy.
Nobody goes out shopping to buy something they don’t want or don’t need, but how often do we fill our lives with junk that just takes up space and needs dusting? How often does the marketing mislead? Better, faster, longer-lasting. New, improved, cutting edge. How many brands of cornflakes do you have to try before you realise they are just cornflakes after all? The same old stuff re-boxed and rebranded to look like something new. But who eats plain old cornflakes any more, now that there is a world of sugary alternative offerings? So what that they make you fat; we’ve got surgery or pills for that.
Instead of accepting the long and arduous cure for the cause we are ever looking to treat the symptoms. War? Send weapons. Poverty? Send money. Poor education? Send gadgets. NHS? Throw yet more money at it. It’s always somebody else’s problem, so when somebody else – anybody else – offers you what looks, from a distance, like a lifeboat it is tempting to take it rather than strike out for the distant shore on your own. But as everybody piles on board and the inevitable bailing out has to start, some cling to the few dry spots on deck and steadfastly refuse to get their feet wet.
Everybody cannot expect to be supported by the state. We can’t all look to the public purse to keep us healthy, wealthy or wise. For all the stuff that David Cameron was banging on about and for all that he was stealing some of Labour’s hippy clothes, at the end it comes down not to what your country can do for you, but what you can do for yourself. What some decry as cruel austerity we used to applaud as thrift; it was considered normal to do without what you could not afford. And that ‘less than 60% of median income equals poverty’ metric? Rubbish; if you’re fed and housed and dry and warm you are rich beyond the dreams of half the world.
All that government intervention in wider society generally achieves is to create another generation of parasites who learn the skills to take the taxpayers’ money. Experts, advisers, ‘thinkers’ and the army of hangers-on; like thirty-year old student union presidents or twenty-eight year old ‘welfare and diversity’ officers. Like eternally workless professional demonstrators, demanding more from those who have quietly got on and ‘done the right thing’. Governments always say they want to encourage self-determination, but then accede to the demands of others whose determination is that the nanny state must pay for them.
Do I want a world with less welfare? Of course I do, as long as those who need it get it. Do I think you shouldn’t produce children you are incapable of providing for? Absolutely. Do I want a country peopled with those who can largely do without the intervention of government? Who doesn’t? You get none of that by electing governments with incontinent pockets. So, let Cameron and the Conservatives bang on about the brighter world they want to bring for everybody, while you get on and quietly light up your own.