Conventional wisdom – for now – blames our economic woes on unregulated free-market capitalism. The tide of opinion may be turning, I hope so. If it is, we have the Mises Institute and Ron Paul in the USA and the Cobden Centre, the Adam Smith Institute and a handful of politicians (including Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell) in the UK to thank. In fact, there are thousands of good economists around the world whose clear-eyed analysis enabled them to predict the current mess and point out that it has been government interference which is to blame.
Governments! Obscenely high, business-crippling taxation; thousands of pages of business-crippling regulations; a business-crippling welfare state; socialised banking, whereby banks can make profits but are protected from losses; a bloated, unproductive public sector (with bloated salaries and index-linked pensions); eye-watering National Debt, which the Coalition is doing nothing to address – the poor bastards are being blamed for cuts(?) which caused the riots. The list is endless. In every sphere governments make things worse. We have experienced nothing like unregulated free-market capitalism for generations. Good intentions have produced a monster state, a cancer whose growth seems to be out of control. Only radical surgery will give us even a glimmer of hope.
I have pointed out before that taxation is, at best, a necessary evil. It costs money to levy taxes; it costs money to disburse the tax take. Think of the waste! And they make a crappy job of disbursing it. If they let you keep it, you would undoubtedly spend it more wisely. The British have been infected with idea that "for profit" enterprises are bad. "For profit" businesses create all the wealth. I'd rather have Tesco provide my healthcare and educate my grandchildren. Morrisons or Sainburys would have to compete, not to mention a million others who saw an opportunity. Imagine how much richer we would be without the cost of the gargantuan NHS and all those schools. Just as with Defence spending, Health and Education spending push costs up and quality down.
We are in for a good deal more woe – that's for sure. I shall be sixty-five in November. Pension funds are sinking as far as the eye can see. Oh woe is me!
James Delingpole – may his sins be forgiven – has a piece in The Spectator and another in today's Telegraph. Read them both, in this order: