Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Whose Wealth?

At the weekend, you will recall, John McDonnell, the man who hopes soon to be in charge of the nation's finances, tried not to admit that he and his bearded friend are Marxists. Not that we were necessarily convinced by his elusiveness, but yesterday Chauncey gave the game away anyway. 'We have 4 weeks to take our wealth back he said in a passage that could not have been more redolent of Marxism had he said it in a German accent and had his beard become rather more lengthy and luxuriant.

Take our wealth back? From whom? To what end? Just to make Chauncey and his pals less angry about whatever makes them so perpetually angry?

Here in a nutshell is what exposes Labour and Chauncey in all of their naive sophomoric ineptitude. They are still living by a dialectic so hopelessly outdated you might imagine that they were products of the 19th century themselves. There was a time, when Marx was writing, when there was an argument for this kind of language, when working men and women were being exploited and having their wealth expropriated by factory owners who sent them off to live in their grimy hovels after another day of back breaking work for a pittance. The world then moved on. Now we live in a country in which half of all income tax is paid by the top 5% of taxpayers. There are certainly some businessmen who are excessively rewarded, others who bend the rules and behave in a way that does not reflect well on their companies or on capitalism in general. But these are exceptions. They are not the rule.

It cannot be stressed too often that it is capitalism that has lifted a billion people out of poverty over the last 30 years. Yes a billion people. Britain is not a poor country. There is poverty here for sure, but it is relative to others. Those in work, even the just about managing, enjoy a better standard of living with gadgets and food previous generations could not have dreamt of. Foodbanks are an issue that has only arisen because people are now aware of their existence and because there will always be a class of people who would rather take off others than work for it themselves. The NHS is a victim of its own success and our ever increasing expectations of it. Social care is certainly a problem that needs addressing, but again that is because we live in a society in which we have unrealistic expectations of what the state could and should provide and what we ought to pay for ourselves. We live in a country in which an unsustainable number of people are net recipients of cash from the state and who nevertheless think that they shouldn't have to dip into their savings to look after themselves in old age or contribute to the care of their parents.

If Labour were to be elected next month and got the opportunity to take our wealth back then what do we imagine the result of that would be? We don't need to imagine. We can see it in Venezuela. We have seen it in every country in which socialists or Marxists have been allowed to foist their version of supposed social justice on society. We are in the process of extracting Britain from the EU. Were Labour to start raising taxes on the wealthy and the middle classes as they would like to do then the challenges of Brexit would become impossible. Why? Because the wealthy would take their money and leave, companies would stop investing, the pound would collapse, stock markets would implode and Labour would struggle to sell its debt. Inflation would take off and soon the standard story of Labour would follow: that of debt, bankruptcy, industrial anarchy, underinvestment. Soon Labour would do what socialists always do and start calling critics enemies of the people.

The wealth of a nation belongs not to a collectivist whole but individuals. We live in a consumer society that is the product of specialisation and of our trading past, present and future. Markets deliver the things we need in the most efficient way that mankind has ever been able to create. If state run services were delivered with a tenth of the efficiency we see from supermarkets or the likes of Amazon we would all be living in a country even more prosperous and better run that it is already. But for that we need to keep our wealth for ourselves and out of the grasp of the petty revolutionaries of the left who have never done an honest days work in their lives and yet enjoy the fruits of this society. They get to indulge their Marxist beliefs. Just so long as we keep them from turning those beliefs into practice.

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