Category Archives: Bastiat, Frédéric

Forward into the seventies

Britain, Dalrymple notes, has several very severe problems, and this is evident the moment you leave a prosperous area whose residents are likely to vote Conservative. Among the problems are

  • stagnation of productivity
  • precariousness of income
  • deficiencies in public services
  • low cultural and educational level of much of the population
  • inadequacy of the housing stock

Yet

the only solution heard to these problems is more government expenditure. The Conservatives went in for this — Theresa May refused to rule out tax increases, for example.

Socialist calamity looms

Thus an alarming aspect of the election was

the recrudescence of the politics of envy and resentment.

The Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn

radiated dislike of the prosperous, even the modestly prosperous.

The party’s solutions to the country’s problems were supposedly to be paid for by higher taxes on the richest 5% of the population.

This proposal overlooked the fact that the top 1% of earners already pay almost three times as much in income tax as the bottom 50% combined.

Wealth, Dalrymple points out,

is dynamic rather than static, resembling the bloom of a grape, not a cake to be sliced.

Taxes on capital (in other words, state expropriation) were Corbyn’s obvious next step,

with capital flight the equally obvious consequence.

None of this worried the young,

who had as yet no stake in property, only what are sometimes called ideals. The Labour party offered them and others the beguiling vision of living perpetually at the expense of others — Bastiat’s definition of the state. The Laffer curve meant nothing to them; punishing the prosperous was more important and gratifying than understanding how to maximise tax receipts.

Dalrymple comments:

The election could take Britain back more than 50 years.

La grande fiction

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 02.09.22Banks privatise their profits but nationalise their debts. True, says Dalrymple, but this is ‘perfectly normal behaviour’. Moral hazard has become ‘our way of life’. He cites Bastiat:

L’État, c’est la grande fiction à travers laquelle tout le monde s’efforce de vivre aux dépens de tout le monde.