Sunday, April 9, 2006

The Fallacy of the Broken Window

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.

Benjamin Franklin


Theodore Dalrymple, published by Times On Line:

THE SIGHT OF MILLIONS of Frenchmen, predominantly young, demonstrating in deep sympathy and solidarity with themselves, is one that will cause amusement and satisfaction on the English side of the Channel. Everyone enjoys the troubles of his neighbours. And at least our public service strikers just stay away from work, and spend the day peacefully performing the rites of their religion, DIY, and not making a terrible nuisance of themselves. In fact, many of them are probably less of a public nuisance if they stay at home than if they go to work.

Of course, demonstrating in huge numbers is what the French do from time to time. We should never forget that to break a shop window for the good of humanity is one of the greatest pleasures known to Man. Trying to topple governments by shouting insults is also great fun.

We like to think of France as having a deplorably statist and centrally controlled economy, while the French like to think of Britain as a land of savage liberalism (in French parlance, the two words are as inseparable as Siamese twins), divided unequally between plutocrats and beggars. In fact, the two countries differ far less than is often supposed.

[..] The ultimate cause of the demonstrations and strikes in the two countries is the same: the State has made promises that it is increasingly unable to keep. It has pursued policies that were bound in the end to produce not just cracks but fissures that could no longer be papered over.

[..] If you speak to small businessmen in France, they will tell you that the young in any case do not want to do the kind of work of which there is no shortage. At a time of such high unemployment, artisans have no one willing to be trained by them, even if they are willing to take the risk by taking them on. This is even though such artisans are so overwhelmed by work that a carpenter, for example, is booked up for more than a year in advance and can charge almost anything he likes.

We have no reason to condescend to the French, however, for the British are in fundamentally the same boat, with a few extra problems of our own. The vast and fraudulent expansion of tertiary education, which leaves students indebted for their own useless education, is merely a means by which the Government disguises youth unemployment and keeps young people off the streets. Contrary to government propaganda, unemployment is not low in Britain: but it is now called sickness.

Our economy is corruptly creating public service jobs — endless co-ordinators of facilitation and facilitators of co-ordination — but not many in the private sector, the only true measure of economic health and growth. Any fool can create public sector jobs, and Mr Brown has done so: but not even the most brilliant man can make them economically productive in the long term.

The British economy has all the brilliance of a fish rotting by moonlight, and eventually — to change the metaphor slightly — the bill will come in. And since so large a proportion of the population is now dependent, wholly or partly, on the State, the bill will be a large one, not only in financial terms but in social terms as well.
HT: The Journal of N = 1

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dalrymple is just bursting with bon mots isn't he?

The vast and fraudulent expansion of tertiary education, which leaves students indebted for their own useless education, is merely a means by which the Government disguises youth unemployment and keeps young people off the streets.

True, but it's much worse than that. The curriculum which these youths are pursuing is created for the purposes of training them to be the loudest, most articulate and most fanatical defenders of the welfare state.

Our economy is corruptly creating public service jobs — endless co-ordinators of facilitation and facilitators of co-ordination

And in Canada, under the Conservatives, we are now creating endless auditors and inspectors of the co-ordinators and facilitators. To make the welfare state, you know, more "accountable".

since so large a proportion of the population is now dependent, wholly or partly, on the State, the bill will be a large one, not only in financial terms but in social terms as well.

He ain't kidding. Check this out: The Gulag Beyond the Watford Gap

Pietr said...

The Watford Gap cliche doesn't really wash.
It is in itself another aspect of socialist orthodoxy.
As for a liberal South, that is a Southerners fantasy designed to compensate their reality of high prices and social collapse with a comforting illusion of superiority.
Sorry, but Dalrymple=good, Von Mises=doesn't have a clue.

Honey Pot said...

Money makes the world go round. Doesn't matter who spends it or where, it just keeps it all going. Lots of pretend jobs. How many people do you know who actually work for a living? Give me any work plac,e and I will point out two people working, and the other 20 sitting around picking their asses. Just the way it is.

Lisa said...

HP;

You're right! Might as well abolish production right now! Everyone shall receive a welfare cheque, paid for by ...

Pietr said...

In London I used to amuse myself by spotting the real workers among the workplace politicians;they were the people running around with piles of papers, looking untidy, and distracted.

Me?I did as little work as I could and just about supported myself; for which trouble I was screamed at by the deranged, ritually humiliated by the bosses, growled at by uptight City types and, one day on Battersea Bridge, sworn at by a priest.
Not to mention the actual physical attacks.

Oh yes the liberal South, instincts so sharply honed it attacks on the strength of your face.

The rest of the country is better by degrees, the less famous it is the better often.