Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The curse of Can't Do

I'll comment on the cuts later today, but they won't be enough. They won't be nearly enough. We need to cut about 10% of GDP, which, together with a rise in GDP as the economy recovers of say 5% will reduce Labour's criminal tax burden from 48% of GDP to 33%. And a great part of the difficulty in scaling back tax-funded services is the Socialist legacy of 'Can't do' that now pervades every aspect of our society. I alluded to this in the post below, but it has a serious point. You see these people, the Guardianistas, honestly believe that only 'trained' people can read Dryden, and recoil in horror at the idea that people like Elby should just pick a book up from a shelf and make up his own mind about what it 'means' without the benefit of State orthodoxy and sanctioned analysis. Both Henry VIII (in later years) and Bloody Mary had the same feelings about the Bible in English; to possess one was to buy a ticket to the faggot pile. The Guardianistas are the natural inheritors of the Inquisition and the Henrican terror networks, who would preserve such things to their own priestly caste lest heterodox opinion challenge their power. 

A century ago Britain's working class were doing it for themselves. They had strong local networks based on kinship and communitarianism, they organised their own welfare with insurance and friendly and provident societies, they employed doctors and teachers. Books were expensive, and advanced learning rationed to the better off, but the publishers Dent launched a series of books called the 'Everyman Library', cloth bound, cheaply printed in DuoDecimo, that brought learning to the shelves of every cottage. For me, my old 'Everyman' books symbolise the brief flowering of endogenous British working class culture before the threat was challenged, and the flowering cut-off by the 1911 National Insurance Act and everything that followed that emasculated this class and pushed them into Welfare slavery. It was compulsory, top-down, 'Can't do' on a national scale. 

We won't get down to 33% of GDP by allowing a few middle class housewives to run the village hall. We need to rediscover fundamentally the strength and self-sufficiency still buried deep in British men and women of all classes, and cultivate it as we have never grown anything before. Give us real tax breaks if we do it ourselves; if we employ our own policemen, cut our council tax. If we employ our own GPs and run the surgery, cut our income tax. If we run the primary school, cut our national Insurance. Not nationally, by a minute fraction of a percent, but locally, by tens of percent. The State will wither on the vine.   


Jackart said...

Hear Hear.

But it's not the politicains who are to blame, it's the people whose jobs "wither on the vine": the bureaucrats who will salt the earth and poison the wells rather than give up their fiefdoms.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Hear, hear!

William Gruff said...

'Can't do' has become a blanket prohibition rather than an excuse for inactivity. The authorities are starting to persecute people who think and act for the themselves so that, for instance, those who wish to educate their children themselves must now prove that they are not abusers, ironically to officials whose activities are tantamount to child abuse.

Edward Spalton said...

The great sacred cow of the NHS is a case in point. I wish I had listened to my parents a bit more about the arrangements which pre-existed it. There were many forms of hospital and health provision - municipal, charitable, co-operative etc.

Because of the temper of the post war times, the monolithic state solution was imposed. In one of his flights of oratory, Nye Bevan claimed that, as Minister of Health, he was responsible for every bedpan.

In effect, the NHS expropriated the trustees of all pre-existing hospital systems without compensation and we have been stuck with the top-down Bevanite formula ever since. Intermittent attempts at reform have usually been trashed by subsequent governments and new schemes (and more bureaucrats) brought in at each point.

The continental, insurance-based systems appear to have preserved preserved the pre-existing trusts and providers within a looser framework and are generally reckoned to offer better, prompter service with cleaner hospitals and less bureaucratic top-hamper.

However, the NHS remains as the nearest thing we have to a national religion these days and Labour can always appeal to its devotees. Back in the Nineties, there was a large hospital building programme in Derby but local trade unionists and activists (and GPs) were able to get people very worried about "The Cuts".