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Friday, 7 November 2014

Bastards vs Fools

Me? I'm a bastard – and proud of it. Let’s be a tiny bit more nuanced. In modern English ‘bastard’ means a ruthless, self-seeking individual. It used to mean someone whose parents were not married – that is to say, typically, someone who was brought up without a father. Girls brought up by their mothers had a role model. Hence, a bastard is/was a boy without an appropriate male role model. Of course, not all male role models were (or are) wholesome. But we noticed, we English speakers, that not having one at all was not a favourable prognostication.

In political terms, it is safe to say that those who believe that all of us should (for the most part and where possible) take responsibility for ourselves are characterised by the other lot (statists) as bastards – ruthless and self-seeking. There is no logic whatsoever to this accusation – none. The contrary is true: people who take responsibility for themselves are vastly happier than those who live lives of protected dependence. A Progressive who works hard to support his family is happier than people living in protected dependence. In his life he is wise and beneficent. In his opinions he is not. Tom Woods claimed the prize for being the one millionth person to point out that progressive policies harm those that they are intended to benefit. So, I am (approximately) the 1,111,111th. Alas, no prize.

Arthur Brook and Charles Murray (both of the AEI) have proved this. AB talks about ‘earned success’ as being the infallible route to happiness. CM laments the fact that successful middle and upper class Americans do not preach what they practise. They defer gratification, they educate themselves and their children, they work hard, they marry and stay married. Typically, they worship. Moreover, they are just about the most generous people in the world when it comes to charitable donations and to involvement in their communities. If they vote Democrat, they betray all their best values. If they vote Republican, they are ‘bastards’ because Republicans ‘do not care about the poor and disadvantaged’.

The following thought experiment is instructive. Given that hard work, honesty and thrift are virtues (and good for society), what sort of system is most likely to inculcate them? Free Markets or Socialism? Given that idleness and selfishness are vices (and bad for society), what sort of system is most likely to inculcate them? Free Markets or Socialism? This is the no-brainer of no-brainers.

Do I need to point out that acting in your own self-interest is not selfishness? It is not selfish to wash your hands when you have had a crap. All day, every day you act in what you perceive to be your own self-interest. You must examine your own conscience. Did you act dishonestly or cruelly?
When we spend money in our own interest, we benefit others, perforce. When we invest money, we benefit others, perforce.

Most bastards (in our technical sense) are conscious that they do not, as individuals, give or do as much as they could or should. The fools are content to leave it up to the state. They are fools because the state (nearly) always gets it wrong. The state frequently takes from the poor to give to the rich, as in bank bail-outs and foreign aid. Thus, the intentions of the fools (in our technical sense) are frustrated.

Bastards, give more! Do more! (Imperative mood). Fools, give up your folly.

The UK government, apparently, proposes to give all income tax payers a breakdown of how the money stolen taken from them is spent. The largest proportion is on ‘benefits’. I bet that this will represent the gross amount taken. It will not separate the actual money going to the recipients from the amounts required to collect the take and to disburse the take. This is a discrepancy I have never seen or heard referred to in the media. The discrepancy goes to bureaucrats, who thereby have an incentive to vote accordingly.

I was about to post this when I noticed that I neglected to address a ‘fool’ objection. Fools subscribe to the zero sum fallacy. They ‘think’ that that if A earns more, B must earn less. This is simply not true. Why have we become steadily richer since the eighteenth century? We have become richer because of innovation, private property, the rule of law and the division of labour. This has happened since 1970 to a degree never before seen. Globalisation and free markets have since that year reduced the number of humans living in absolute poverty by EIGHTY PERCENT. Do you care about your fellow men AT ALL?

Stop being a fool – join the bastards!

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