Healthcare, Islam, Racism, Socialism – why I really shouldn’t bother watching the BBC

A young woman on a BBC question programme this morning was asked if she’s happy to pay for other people’s healthcare. She said yes, of course. No matter how much tax? Yes, of course. Aww, how very noble of you. But wait, isn’t there already a way for individuals to help others if they CHOOSE to? Yes. It’s called charity! Please think about that before assuming that other free citizens are happy to have their property taken by force to support your sense of altruism.

Of course, being a BBC program, it’s stacked with lefties none of whom would ever ever ask the question as to WHY the NHS consistently fails in the first place. Why prices rise, service declines, healthcare is rationed… whereas the exact opposite happens in non socialised markets… because the answer is unthinkable in their ideology.

And on BBC Sunday Politics, Andrew Neil interviewing Tommy Robinson, leader of the English Defence League. Now, leaving aside what you may or may not think about the EDL, the questions being raised are: Is Islam terrorism a serious threat in this country? Is Islam a religion of peace? Is the British way of life being threatened by religious fanatics, whilst political correctness is a shelter for the latter and a club of “racism” for the former? Those are very important questions, and need to be bravely asked and talked about.

Which is why, naturally, Andrew Neil spent the entire time questioning the EDL’s motives, actions, gestures, speech – bringing up criminal offences from 10 years ago of some individual members. Of course, when a Muslim murders a British citizen, we are told that we shouldn’t judge the Islam community by the actions of a few of its members. But when an EDL member does something bad, once, in his entire life, that means the EDL is fascist and rascist… Mr. Neil ignored all the rebuttals of Mr. Robinson, talked over him, repeated refuted statements, and made the discussion a personal attack on Tommy Robinson himself, and avoided the actual issues being raised.

I’m not supporting the EDL, but this was clearly another example of the multicultural politically-correct Left-wing agenda that the BBC has pushed for decades. They don’t want a discussion on religion. Who seriously believes the BBC is a fair honest British institution that we can trust? It never was, and it never will be. And WE are forced to pay for it.

And as for the issue at hand: yes, Islam extremism is a problem, and it is encouraged by left-wing politics. The cure is a free society of limited government that protects the rights of ALL citizens equally.

And to top it all off, we have a young Socialist on the programme claiming that capitalism caused the global financial meltdown years ago, which it didn’t, that Statism cured it, which it didn’t, and that the public sector gave us the internet… The free-market supporter tried to explain why the Financial Crisis was actually caused by US socialised institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but the subject was immediately changed and he couldn’t continue.

I really shouldn’t watch political programmes, especially on the BBC. I come away angry, frustrated, and incredibly depressed that so many people actually believe this nonsense.

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The Ferengi – the ultimate strawmen of capitalism

You don’t have to have seen Star Trek or even like sci-fi to find this relevant. This isn’t just about bad writing, which is an artistic crime by itself – and when the very thing you’re trying to denounce is so obviously a ludicrous strawman not only do you fail to make the point, you end up undermining your own position. It’s also about propaganda.

I am a geek, I admit, so I can unapologetically say that if you’re not, I’ll do some quick back-story for you: the Ferengi are an alien race in the Star Trek universe, introduced way back in The Next Generation’s first season. Since the Federation (sort of like all the best parts of the United States in space; in Kirk’s words a place where people had “the full exercise of individual Rights” source) finally made friends with the classic bad guys the Klingons, the show needed a new nemesis for our heroes. Now, when you consider that even someone who hasn’t watched Star Trek probably knows who The Borg are, this should give you an idea of the impact a truly terrifying enemy can have…and how far off the mark the writers were with the Ferengi. They are ugly apish buffoons (the Ferengi, not the writers – though I don’t deny the similarity). After only a couple of episodes it was clear they couldn’t be taken seriously, so much so that almost every “Ferengi” episode of DS9 and Voyager to come was written as a “comedy episode”, with one exception.

The Ferengi were shown to be a technologically-advanced intelligent species (appearances to the contrary) who could rival the Federation in space exploration and/or conquest. As I said, this didn’t last long and they instead devolved into the ultra “capitalist” exploitative bigoted idiots that would crop up every now and then to beat us over the head with the “too much capitalism is bad!” mallet. I could attribute this to just bad writing, but the problem is that the Ferengi are a caricature of everything the Left believes about capitalism, beginning with a most profound and basic misunderstanding. Of course, it’s not the Left I’m addressing this to, but the everyday person who doesn’t know any better and whose only understanding of capitalism comes from false generalisations and clichéd movie villains.

Capitalism in one sentence

“Do not initiate force against an innocent rational being.” Got that? Good, because this is the basic premise of capitalism. Of course, people will disagree and they’re welcome to. You are welcome to define capitalism as you like, but you have to justify your definition and show how it’s logically derived. This is the job of philosophy, but I don’t intend to go into that much detail here. The best philosophical defender of capitalism was Ayn Rand and it’s her understanding of the term I’ll use. Even if you totally disagree with Ayn Rand, I don’t see how someone can object to me invoking her here. After all, when I attack communism and socialism, I don’t attack what I think they are, I attack what they actually claim to be! I am happy to take a socialist’s definition of their own system and roll with it, so no one should object to me using Rand’s definition of capitalism here.

Why does it matter? Well, the “profound and basic” misconception of capitalism that I alluded to is of capitalism saying “make money!” But it doesn’t. Don’t confuse an economic consequence with a political principle. I attack socialism, not because it says “surrender all your values to the State!” (although that is a logical consequence of socialism) but because it says “the Rights of the individual are secondary to the needs of the State.” I think capitalism has proven that wealth and profit are its corollaries (hard to argue with, even if you don’t like capitalism), but the political principle on which it stands is: “leave people alone”, or “don’t initiate force against others.”

We’ll see that every distasteful aspect of the Ferengi, who are supposedly the unavoidable consequences of rampant unchecked laissez-faire capitalism, are false and even precluded by capitalism.

Sexism

In Ferengi society females are treated like second class citizens. The men run everything and exclude Ferengi women on the grounds that they are useless in business, and all the Ferengi care about is profit. This is probably the biggest non-sequitor of them all. I don’t know how someone gets from “leave people alone” to “treat women like useless house-bound tools”. Capitalism’s principle of leaving every person free to pursue their own life, liberty and happiness surely encourages respect for our fellow creatures, recognising that they are just like us and have the same potential as we do. Also, with the use of force banned, how could women be forcibly restrained from having jobs and earning money? The Western world has proven (most memorably during WW2) that having half your entire population not sitting around doing nothing, increases production and profits. Imagine if today women were suddenly forbidden from working – almost every business where gender is irrelevant would collapse! Yet we’re supposed to believe that a society so obsessed with profit as the Ferengi wouldn’t take advantage of a worker base which could in theory double its workforce? Isn’t a common criticism of laissez-faire capitalism that would it end up employing too many people that it shouldn’t, not excluding them?

Of course, as any real life rational businessman knows, there is no profit in unnecessary discrimination.

You might say that this is just an example of an alien race which is ultra-capitalistic and also happens to be ultra-sexist. But every single aspect of the Ferengi revolves around profit, so the implication is clear that their horrifically-sexist society is connected to their capitalism. But even if it wasn’t, it’s guilt by association. For example, imagine if Trek gave us an alien race who are all black, oh and it just so happens they’re thieves and rape isn’t a crime on their world. Who would dismiss this as innocently exploring ethical issues in a science-fiction format and not racist?

Exploitation

The Ferengi are open to and encourage bribery, and forever force money from their customers by upping prices, lowering wages, and denying basic commodities to their employees, since without a regulation from some Progressive bureaucrat of course, this is what would obviously happen in all companies. Naturally, all unions are banned.

Leaving aside the government support that unions have had in the Western world (which only gives one side an unfair advantage in negotiations, but since that side isn’t the evil businessmen it’s ok), with the use of force banned, how could unions be prevented? They are an obvious and natural means for employees to pool their (economic) power and lobby their employer for change. If we drop the premise that businessmen are James Bond villains or irrational scrooges, it’s clear that no reasonable employer is going to lose his staff when by making acceptable changes (or losses) he can keep them here and happy. On the other hand, he isn’t going to needlessly cut into his profits if he doesn’t have to. And implying that this is necessarily a bad thing isn’t an attack on capitalism, it’s an attack on the very inescapable nature of human trade itself!

Also, it’s simply daft to assert that a businessman can keep upping his prices to extremes. Of course, in the heads of anti-capitalists, prices are set in a vacuum and buyers are at the whims of sellers. But prices reflect costs, overheads, the affluence of the customer base and competition. Yes, if there is little competition you can get away with upping your prices, but it doesn’t mean that, for example, if I’m the only pub within a 50 mile radius I can charge $20 for a pint of ale. No matter how rich my customer base is, no is going to pay that much for a pint. And even if a tiny minority could, would that handful keep my business running? If only 1 person a day buys a $20 pint, it does not follow that if I cut my prices to $2, I will now get 10 customers a day instead of 1; in reality I’d probably get many times that, because not only will more customers be attracted to my pub, they will each spend more because the prices are good. ‘Good’ here being within the context of my customers’ affluence; in some regions I could up my price to $3 and not lose customers. In other regions I’d have to drop it to $1.50 to (counter-intuitively) make profit. But to say that the customer is irrelevant and an unchecked businessman would just irrationally up his prices is pure fantasy. Which would be fine if this was just another alien race and not an unashamed caricature of a genuinely pro-human political system.

(Incidentally, in my experience pub managers and owners resent raising prices because it simply drives customers away, which means they lose the atmosphere in their premises and lose business. Ironically, the ever-increasing costs on alcohol are imposed by government taxes, something that wouldn’t exist in a truly capitalist society.)

Corruption

The Ferengi give and take bribes like we shake hands. This is bad, naturally, because the affairs of two private consensual individuals are of course the concern of the rest of society. Oh wait…

A bribe is a bribe if it’s a way to circumvent honest trade. For example, if you’re a buyer you could be bribed to accept some poor quality stock that you normally wouldn’t, and which your company wouldn’t normally want – but you get a brown paper envelope and press the Confirm button anyway. This is a bribe. Similarly, you could be a politician with the power to use force against your own civilians, and be bribed by a business to grant them special privileges. This is a bribe. (By the way, whilst the former could of course still happen under capitalism, the latter could not. Remind me again why the Left doesn’t like it?)

But saying that any private settlement reached between two free individuals is a bribe is just ridiculous. By this reasoning, any bargaining or negotiation at all should be viewed as a bribe. Offering to give someone a bit more for something you want isn’t a bribe, it’s called trade! But presumably this is frowned upon by the Soviet Federation of Planets because all transactions are the concern of the State.

It’s either fraud, in which case it’s illegal (even and especially under capitalism) or it’s not fraud in which case it’s no one else’s business.

Obsession with profit

Everything the Ferengi say and do revolves around profit. Their version of the bible is “The Rules of Acquisition” and even their afterlife myths involve a latinum-plated vault where treasures await them. How many businessmen do you know whose every topic of conversation concerns money? How many of them actually dream about it? How many of them see it as an end in itself?

Like everything else with the propaganda of the Left, it makes no sense. Anti-capitalists think that just because capitalists want to be left free to pursue their own selfish values, which includes making money, that “making money” is therefore all they care about. I’ve seen scarecrows with less straw than this argument. It’s like saying that just because someone thinks drugs should be legalised, his ulterior motive is getting high on anything he can get his hands on. I happen to think all drugs should be legalised, but if they were I wouldn’t take them. So why assume that someone who wants property rights fully respected automatically wants to stand on the necks of the poor to make some extra cash? It’s because the Left frames every anti-capitalist argument as a matter of money, and not the principles that political systems should be based on. It is here that anti-capitalists reveal that they are the ones obsessed with profit. But whereas the Ferengi are obsessed with having more money, the Left is obsessed with making sure no one has too much of it!

Greed

This ties in with the above: that just because capitalists want to be left free, which includes having no limit or checks on the profit they can acquire, they are “greedy”, an adjective related to excessive consumption. The difference is: rational people eat until they are full, because there is a logical and practical reason to eat and cease eating when that biological urge has been satisfied. The difference with money is, there is no logical or practical point in life at which it becomes pointless to acquire more money (especially since wealth isn’t finite, it’s created). Ok, in theory you might have so much money that literally nothing is an obstacle for you – but if your productive effort reaps money then the only way to stop making it, short of refusing to get paid, is to sit on your hands and watch TV for the rest of your life, a position itself that is contrary to human flourishing. Also, the incredibly rich do seem to be quite generous with their money in real life, a fact borne out by billionaire philanthropists and mega-corporations who are the largest contributors to charity in the world.

In fact, if greed is the irrational pursuit of objectives, then why would we assume that a person who continues working with no end in sight to what he can achieve or acquire is being irrational? We don’t see the best sports stars earn enough to live comfortably and then retire, do we? And we don’t criticise the likes of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Stephen Hendry and Lionel Messi for continuing to blow the opposition away even after achieving everything “reasonably” necessary in a career, do we? So why are businessmen with the same ruthless determination to win viewed as greedy? The best sports stars make  fortunes for themselves in exchange for a relatively limited return to their “customers”, the spectators. They smash the hopes and dreams of their rivals and seek to conquer everything and hope the other guy loses. Even assuming a businessman of equal ruthlessness, he at least brings a product to the world, not just a group of fans, and gives how many others a career and purpose along the way? And unlike a sportsman’s titles and records, the businessman’s practical achievements will live with humanity forever.

And yet, it is the charity worker which is held alongside the sportsman and businessman as the model of humanity.

Public welfare

Towards the end of the Ferengi story arc, which we see in the last season of Deep Space Nine, the leader of the Ferengi Alliance (though what he leads and how, in a system where government force is supposedly banned, is a mystery) has introduced taxation (pretty much a swear word to the Ferengi) and instituted various social reforms such as “free” healthcare and pensions. Ironically, a society where energy is free and unlimited and all matter can be “replicated” from thin air is probably the only one where socialism would actually work. But even then it wouldn’t, unless doctors and scientists could also be replicated…

Yes, the immoral Ferengi slowly begin to learn the true meaning of Christmas; that profit is a vice and the true calling of all sophisticated beings is of charity work to any potential number of other individuals they may never meet and might care nothing about.

But the funny thing is that despite the Ferengi being deliberately stacked as caricatures, they still manage to get things done! Throughout Trek, the Ferengi are never involved in any wars and their business interests are allowed to continue without interference from any aggressive power. They have an impressive military and aren’t slackers when it comes to exploration and invention. We are never shown the Ferengi homeworld in ruins, resource-deprived, impoverished or with people enslaved. In fact, in the words of Trek’s most famous Ferengi: “You’re overlooking something, Commander. Humans used to be a lot worse than Ferengi. Slavery, concentration camps, interstellar war; we have nothing in our past that approaches that kind of barbarism. You see? We’re nothing like you. We’re better.” And despite the Trek writers giving us the kind of alien history that we can only dream about, we’re still told “but if you want all this, you going to have to take corporatism and sexism too.” One can’t help but think that if ultra-capitalism produced a world without war, slavery and genocide, maybe it’s worth a few greedy businessmen.

I’m reminded of the Caldari society in Eve Online, which is supposedly a capitalist state taken to extremes; from Wikipedia: “the Caldari State is organised as a form of statist corporatocracy, where the State itself is owned by and operated on behalf of a few trust-like megaconglomerates.” Whilst I don’t deny that such a State could exist in theory, it isn’t capitalistic. Capitalism is the separation of corporation from State. The Caldari are contrasted with the Gallente, who “favour liberal economic policies, encourage individual entrepreneurship and social democracy, and maintain a progressive approach to social welfare”. The Gallente are very much like Trek’s Federation politically, but the problem is that these “virtues” are reeled off in one sentence as if they are mutually compatible or inevitable. They aren’t. Progressive social reforms are a hallmark of Leftist politics and are undeniably fascist in origin and nature. Individual entrepreneurship is antithetical to social welfare and liberal economics, since Liberalism in the modern sense means socialism, not capitalism. Again, we see strawmen in action: the best of all worlds is a semi-socialist “liberal” democracy and anything else must necessarily be an undesirable radical society which is either fully-despotic and totalitarian or ultra-capitalistic where the mega-corporations are in charge. How convenient. But I say again: this is all based on a simple misconception of capitalism. If capitalism is the society where nothing trumps individual Rights, then please tell me, how exactly could business own the State? How could despotism come about? How could anyone be forcibly included or excluded from any activity against their wish?

Why?

Because I’m so opinionated I can’t just leave it there and point out the flaws of anti-capitalism in just two popular works of fiction. The question is: why is capitalism painted this way? Leaving aside conspiracy theories of the Left (not because the Left is innocent but because not everyone who is sceptical of capitalism is always a Leftist), I’ll suggest this: it’s easy. If capitalism was understood properly it necessarily would exclude most of the nasty stuff that people don’t want to see in politics. The problem though is that it raises a lot of uncomfortable questions that people don’t want to answer, or simply can’t, like: what about education, roads, healthcare, tax? It’s easier to imagine that somehow our society just works with the balance of individual freedom and Statism, and pretend that the two are compatible or can even co-exist for a while, and anyone else must just have it wrong. And how much better does such a Liberal Progressive society look when contrasted to the strawmen alternatives?

The irony is that despite Roddenberry’s Marxist utopia, the United Federation of Planets was supposed to be the United States of America in space, a place where individual freedom was treasured and people of all races would work together, not because they are forced to, not because they are guilt-tripped into it, not because of positive discrimination or ethic-minority quotas, not because of political correctness, but simply because there is no rational reason for us to not cooperate if everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and because there is no profit in discrimination. It was the capitalism of early America that smashed slavery and feudalism and allowed men to flourish (and get rich), and those countries that followed the example (like Britain in Europe) also succeeded compared to other nations. It was the Progressives of the late 19th and 20th centuries that would re-introduce the anti-individualist God-state as the political ideal, whether as expressed fascists, communists and socialists, whether as brazen as Hitler’s Nazi party or as nicey-nice as Barak Obama’s neo-socialism. Rather than being cutting edge thought-provoking television, Star Trek is just another example of anti-capitalist nonsensical clichés. We can blame it on bad writing, but the reason for such an obvious strawman in the first place is sadly more pervasive.

The New Atheists have just changed God’s name

Tim Sandefur over at his blog has posted a total demolition of a Sam Harris blog post entitled “How rich is too rich?” It’s called “Sam Harris, anti-reason“, and here’s the link.

Sandefur brilliantly illustrates how Harris, like Hitchens, Dawkins, and other Neo-Atheists, who are nearly always Left-wing Liberals, have simply taken all the unspoken and mystical assumptions of religion, but replaced service to “God” with service to “others”; the “others” being, well, anyone but ourselves. Service to society, the public good, those “in need”, those without what we have. They have taken the self-sacrificial preachings of Christ and simply blotted out the nasty “god” parts. They have regurgitated the mysticism and ephemeral bilge of religion, all in the name of rationality, atheism, science, and all that good “free-thinking” stuff.

Even more worrying is the total economic ignorance Harris shows, so we shouldn’t wonder that his followers across the blogosphere, all the internet atheists, demonstrate this level of ineptitude and misunderstanding of economics. And not just economics, politics. And not just politics, but ethics.

As Sandefur himself points out, Harris and the Neo Atheists are superbly adept at pointing out all the logical fallacies and loopholes in the arguments of the religious, yet Harris can’t even define his own simple terms. He contradicts himself. His premises are unspoken, unjustified, or simply wrong.

It’s very rarely I criticise religion on my blog anymore. In fact, I haven’t written anything anti-religious in years. Why? Because I really don’t see the religious (with the exception of Islam and the fundamentalist Right-Wing American Christians) as the primary threat to my well-being. It’s the socialists, the collectivists, the Left, which the Neo-Atheist “rational” crowd flock to, which is a far greater problem. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say I don’t see the religious as more or less of a threat than the New Age Atheists, it’s that I lump them all together; I see them as just different types of the same problem.

Whatever your political persuasion, you should really read the article.

Socialised medicine claims yet another innocent life

Just recently, I wrote about how the elected representatives and protectors of Britain are spending almost a billion pounds of their citizens’ money to vaccinate poor children. I also pointed out how such actions are not noble or philanthropic, but yet another futile demonstration of altruism at work: self-destructive sacrifice for others.

Only today I came across a shocking example of how true this is. Whilst the British government inoculates third world children with our money, in this country, in one of the supposed gems of the Western world, with the shining achievement of socialism: the NHS, a young woman dies from gross incompetence when a couple of simple injections would’ve saved her life. Link. Read this, and tell me that a paying customer in a private service would be treated to such pathetic negligence and arrogance. To those Lefties who think that capitalism’s flaw is that it leaves people behind, take a good look at your system. People are already being left behind. They are dying in the tens of thousands every year because a bumbling inefficient impractical politically-weighted system with grand aspirations of universal care (paid for by others) consistently fails.

This is the arrogance and evil of socialism: capitalism has never been given a fair crack at the whip, but in those isolated markets in those isolated times where it was allowed to partially flourish, it gave technology, advancements, jobs and commodities for steadily-decreasing costs (For a very few examples, I give you the industries of clothing, food, mobile phones, computers and the internet). Yet, the Left blames capitalism for all of its own failures, and consistently declares itself the only fair and moral system, “if only we could get it right”. Well guess what? No one has ever gotten socialism right. No other system has so consistently and spectacularly failed to deliver and been so antithetic to human rights, and yet been so blindly praised and lauded. Socialism is like a cult whose adherents’ faith grows as its failures mount up. It’s almost enough to make you believe that if Reverend Socialist promised a space-flight after drinking the “special potion”, the supermarkets would run out of bleach overnight. (Of course, the Left would blame capitalism for the shortage of bleach and demand a government allocation scheme to resolve the problem.)

Jo Dowling is the name of the woman who died, and she is one of many thousands every year whose lives are cut short because of an easily-preventable disease or illness. Where is your “no one left behind” now? I’m sure the vaccinated kids in Africa will be of great comfort to Jo’s friends and family, who talked with her over increasingly-distressing text messages right up to her death.

No capitalist claims that our system would take care of everyone. Instead, we realise that since healthcare and medicine are commodities provided by the property, service and innovation of other people, like any market of supply and demand, there can be no guarantee to these things. Yet socialism arrogantly declares, (and gets away with!) that it will take care of everyone, everywhere, for free! (Not free for those who make such schemes possible in the first place, however.)

It’s time we all declared that the Emperor is naked. The Cult of Socialism is a vile disease that should be talked about, exposed and overthrown. But it cannot be done on the grounds of altruism, on the morality of sacrifice. For capitalism to succeed, we must realise that the moral code behind socialism’s failure is the fault: altruism is self-destructive and there is nothing noble or “humanitarian” about it. The only objective basis for morality is rational egoism and self-interest, the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

More taxpayers’ money pledged for foreign aid

David Cameron is offering up even more of our money on the altar of altruism: £814m to provide vaccinations for poor people in third world countries. Story.

Isn’t this a noble action? No. Let’s dispel this myth at the start. There is nothing neither noble nor honourable in pouring hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money into another country. Bill Gates says “The United Kingdom has also been very generous and its taxpayers should be thanked.” No we shouldn’t, because we didn’t have a choice whether to contribute or not. Charity at gunpoint is not charity. (This little truth is ignored by all socialists in their war for a “humanitarian” redistributionist utopia.)

I am most certainly not cold to the suffering of others, but I am not a hypocrite either. In the words of Ayn Rand: “Poverty is not a mortgage on the labor of others—misfortune is not a mortgage on achievement—failure is not a mortgage on success—suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence—man is not a sacrificial animal on anyone’s altar nor for anyone’s cause—life is not one huge hospital.”

With the economy on its last legs here and around the world, with recession and an ever-rising cost of living, with schools and hospitals being closed, overcrowded prisons, the NHS millions in debt, why is our government, our sacred protector, our servant, being so generous with our money? Now, this isn’t to say I support the NHS or state schools (as I reject all socialised institutions), but if taxpayer money is to be spent on futile altruistic causes, those causes should at least be domestic for one very important unassailable reason: the government serves the people of its country, NO ONE else. Redistribution of property is bad enough, as it necessarily means the sacrifice of the capable, intelligent and productive, but when taxpayers’ wealth is distributed outside the country it is an act of treason by the government against its very clients. The proper role of government is to protect Rights, not to act as international good-will emissary or charity function, or to play philanthropist with the very property of the people it should be safeguarding.

Shadow international development secretary Harriet Harman said it was “unacceptable” that millions of children in the developing world die from illnesses which could be prevented by vaccinations which are taken for granted in the UK.” I think it’s unacceptable that tens of thousands of deaths occur every year in the UK because cancer and blood clots aren’t spotted early enough by the NHS. But more on that shortly.

Pouring millions into third-world poverty is like trying to fill a colander. The point that our governments and all the altruists don’t realise, or choose to ignore, is this: why are some countries better off than others in the first place? If most diseases are easily preventable in the UK, it’s not because we are raping and pillaging poor countries. Our cures don’t come from the blood and souls of the poor. Diabolical pharmaceutical companies are not rounding up third-world children and making drugs out of their bones. So why then in the Western world is our standard of living so much better? Industrialisation, brought about by capitalism. Capitalism, though perverted, diluted, bastardised and corrupted by our governments, has a superb track record of improving quality and lowering prices. Any free or semi-free market proves this. Or in the words of Joseph Schumpeter: “It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabric, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as a rule improvements that would mean much to the rich man. Queen Elisabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort.” (Bold mine).

The cure for poverty is not charity, and charity cannot by definition be given by taxpayers. What the third world needs is capitalism. The third world will be forever dependent on the developed world until it starts to produce for itself. That isn’t going to happen overnight and it won’t be easy. But it shouldn’t come through our sacrifices either. Consider that Bill Gates himself has donated more than the British government. Is it any surprise that GAVI is encountering a massive shortfall as fiat currency and inflation destroy the true wealth and savings of private citizens? (This is the source of charity.)

Harriet Harman continued: “The private sector must also play its part by supplying vaccines at the lowest possible prices.” Well, before one starts making demands on the private sector, one might want to consider where the bulk of tax actually comes from, and who discovers vaccines in the first place and the plethora of regulations and red-tape they are forced to endure. If government really wants to encourage private companies to be more generous with their vaccines, they might want to stop eating into the latter’s profit margin and investment capital. Why doesn’t the government be more generous with business tax and regulation?

“But don’t you care about millions of children dying in poor countries?” It is hard to give a straight answer to this question without being pilloried or misconstrued. Do I care? Yes and no. I would love to see poverty eliminated on earth entirely, just as I want to see crime and disease eliminated. I think a child dying of an easily-preventable disease is a tragic but logical consequence of their surroundings. I don’t feel guilty about it and I don’t believe I owe anything to those worse off. I don’t believe that the poor have earned goodwill simply by being poor, but I do approve of helping others when they are honest and well-intentioned people, and if their lives are conducive (however indirectly) to one’s values.  (For example, if third-world terrorists are starving, I couldn’t care less.)

But I also I accept that poverty, just like crime and disease, isn’t something that can be wiped out by fascist governments (no matter how well-intentioned their motives). The solution will require slow and strenuous effort to drag a country from poverty to wealth, and it will be the inventors, the businessmen, the capitalists, doing the dragging, as it always is. But it is not fair on the people of another country to be looted, even if it means that many lives are saved in the short-term. Charity must begin at home. Finally, we must totally reject the notion that governments make aid happen. If all government aid stopped in a week, the free wealthy people of this world would continue to help the poor, inasmuch as it is practical and worthwhile for them to do so.

Portugal next to require bailout, highlights simple truths

I was going to review the BBC’s explanation for the cause of the problem in Portugal and analyse it in technical terms, but I decided instead to point out a few “big picture” general truths that the economic crisis nicely highlights.

So, following Ireland and Greece, Portugal is the next euro-based economy to require a bailout. Despite reassurances from Spain’s finance minister that “’of course’ Portugal would be the last eurozone country that needed a debt bail-out”, I think we could be forgiven for taking anything any politician says these days with a mountain of salt. (I couldn’t help but notice the irony that one of the agencies that will be attempting to rescue Portugal is the International Monetary Fund. This is amusing, if you have an eye for acronyms and 60s TV.)

EU Commissioner Ollie Rehn says that there would have to be an “ambitious privatisation programme” to reduce debt. This raises the question of why, since everyone pretty much concedes that private production is the only source of real wealth, the private sector needs any more encouragement to produce and generate tangible assets? Of course, the answer is that the private sector doesn’t need any incentive to operate, it simply requires freedom. Freedom from regulation, restriction, and extortionate taxation. (I oppose taxation on principle, but I am not naive enough to think it can be repealed overnight or entirely in the current political climate.) It is government, with enough controls and rules and regulations to make an obsessive-compulsive look chilled out on cannabis, which stifles and hampers the real source of wealth: the private sector.

As the current global economic meltdown continues, I can’t help but reiterate one of Ayn Rand’s gems regarding wealth and finance which she phrased in the form of a question. I will paraphrase: ‘if the problem is that there isn’t enough money, why doesn’t the government just print more?’ Understanding why it simply doesn’t work this way is to understand what the problem is in the first place, and how we got to this stage. Money, (coins or paper), in a proper economy, represents produced but unconsumed goods. It can represent any goods, but those goods must exist. When you print paper money, without producing any actual goods to back it up, you devalue the existing currency and you devalue savings. This is the source of inflation.

Now, as if that wasn’t bad enough, tax is aimed at private citizens and corporations, with the more productive carrying the heaviest tax-burden of all. (Liberals will recite the party line about “the rich should pay more” but there is no good argument for this, and there never has been. It is simply penalising the more productive and successful because they are productive and successful).  The money to pay tax is taken from the savings of citizens and the investment capital of corporations. In other words, when times get tough we all tighten our belts; we cut down on the eccentricities and make sure we have just enough to get by. Similarly, corporations make staff redundancies, shut down factories, and donate less capital to research, investment and innovation. So, the private market stagnates, or shrinks, which means fewer jobs, less production, and, as a direct corollary, less actual wealth. Actual wealth is the only thing that keeps an inflated economy above water. Notice the sick irony: in an attempt to solve a problem it created, government raises taxes and bleeds dry the very lifeblood needed to keep a country alive.

This is why the economies of the world are falling apart: mixed, planned, or in plain old terms socialist schemes are ruining the market, just as they have done throughout history. And yet, time and time, our intellectuals and politicians, despite paying lip-service to capitalism, even recognising that only the private sector can save us, refuse to give up their bloated powerful positions and public sector schemes. Socialism is so obviously impractical and destructive, but it is also the means by which politicians amass enormous wealth and power. That is why they will cling to the socialist ship even as it sinks around them.

One final thing I wanted to share is this article: when the government is forced to make public sector cuts, it starts with non-essential personal, which raises the question “if they are nonessential personnel, why are the taxpayers funding their employment to begin with?” It’s so wonderfully eloquent, and it’d be hilarious if pointing out the failed historic evils of Soviet Russia from our higher ground. It’s not so funny when the joke’s on us. At the moment, the “joke” is on Portugal. Spain might very well be next. But I really don’t believe the worst is over.

Violent idiots protest public spending cuts

I’ve only just managed to get around to commenting on the “protests” against public spending cuts acted out by vicious mindless thugs last weekend.

Although there were peaceful protestors present, the violent demonstrators’ method was to smash up private and public property, because as we all know, mindless violence has always accomplished political reform in the past. (Needless to say, the shop-owners whose property was destroyed felt very let down by the police, who were probably too busy parked up on a wide clear road in an industrial estate somewhere, clocking drivers doing 32 mph in a 30 zone.) The police should’ve come down on these thugs with the full weight of the law, ruthlessly and mercilessly. They should’ve given the shop owners their full support and sent a message that peaceful protest ends the moment force begins, and no amount of force will be tolerated at all.

But leaving aside the pitiful reaction of the police, and the idiocy of the violence, do these protestors really have a clue what they’re demonstrating about? For a start, smashing up someone’s property because you think they are somehow avoiding tax undercuts the whole point of a lawful country that (according to these protestors) needs tax to operate in the first place. (Of course, this is not true, but they believe it, which makes their actions contradictory). Secondly, protestors should be demanding lower taxes for everyone, not crying that some appear to be getting off lightly. Corporations carry the heaviest tax burden in any country, yet they are the only real source of wealth; they create, they innovate, they provide jobs, they keep a country running, but they are taxed and penalised and regulated the most. To top it off, anarchist thugs (who are just socialists in disguise) come along and destroy their property. Thirdly, cuts to the public sector are probably the best (and only good) thing this government has done so far. The public sector is a fat ugly poisonous tumour on society, and exists only to suck all the nourishment out of healthy productive people. The public sector only consumes wealth, it never creates it. Those public sector workers who have been put out of work by government cuts should go and get a proper job, and if they can’t find one, maybe then they’ll finally understand where real wealth comes from, and how taxing the hell out of corporations only results in them making cutbacks in their investment capital and staff. When capital and staff are cut back, there is less market growth (or stagnation), and fewer jobs (or redundancies), which increases the strain on the welfare state, (paid for by…you guessed it.)

I should state, by public sector, I don’t mean the following institutions that are necessary government services in any society: the courts, the police, the army. Everything else should go.

The really dumb thing about protesting the public sector cuts is: where do you think the money for public sector spending comes from?? Tax – you know, the thing which is bleeding this country dry. We have people demanding tax cuts on the one hand, and protesting spending cuts on the other… do they even stop and think? Of course not, because they assume that money and wealth will always be here, (provided by the capitalists they despise so much.)