Tuesday, 23 February 2016
A bit of any humane person has to be at least a tiny little bit socialist. Even I – and this will come as a shock to many of you – don’t believe that any old form of laissez-faire, ‘libertarian’ capitalism will result in only benign outcomes. If I want to sell something I own to another who covets it, then government has no right in any part of that deal, even if I make a profit on it. If I make a habit of it and it involves third parties then, yes, I believe there comes a point where oversight may be essential to maintain at least some semblance of fairness.
I believe in workers’ rights to withdraw their labour and even to enlist the support of other workers to better make their point. I also believe in the right of employers to sack their striking workers, especially if they have access to ‘better’ workers. But better can’t only ever mean cheaper, because these workers are ultimately your market, your economy. If they can’t afford to buy what you have, or make, or trade in, then you have no business. Somewhere in there is a balance and it’s pretty much the one we have in the UK. Or had, before unfettered access to an ultra-cheap, no-rights, disposable workforce was ushered in.
There was much chatter early today on Radio 4 about the agricultural industry and its essential access to cheap foreign labour. Yet I seem to recall, way back before we joined the EU that migrant farm workers were the norm – the apple harvest, hops and in France they received a regular influx of British youths to get the grapes in. It was entirely normal in England for school holidays to be scheduled around harvest times – spuds, barley, sugar beet, wheat – and for kids to be introduced to the serious work ethic.
But what did we do? In pursuit of some ridiculous Utopian dream of British kids all becoming highly educated highly skilled and highly motivated high earners, we bought millions of iPads and dumbed them down still further so that the academic no-hopers now have hopes higher than their dull brains will ever be able to take them. I’m all for individual ambition and drive, but you have to recognise that the thick kid, en masse, is an economic resource we should be exploiting, in good old-fashioned, glorious turnip harvest fashion.
So, yes, I’d be in favour of supporting our farmers through subsidy to keep on doing what they are doing, gradually adjusting their output to match the real market and employing local youths from the age of sixteen. If nothing else, working on the land may be the stimulus to try harder in life; it will certainly instil a love of earning their money when the thick-sixteens realise they can actually make a living many years before their brainy peers start paying for their own pleasures.
That's it, work, you little fuckers!
And why stop at agriculture? Factories, construction, transport – all these industries employ plenty of people of limited skillsets – we should be getting people off their arses and into paid work as young as feasible and only rely on imported talent when absolutely necessary. Look after our own before we look after the rest and invest and invest and invest in our own economy. In people terms it’s the equivalent of looking after the pennies – quids-in, the pounds will look after themselves.