Category Archives: subsidies

Bureaucratic Perónism

Dalrymple tries to contact a government department that offers grants to organisations that want to pursue certain projects and seek subsidies.

Irrespective of the effects of subsidies in general, I knew of an organisation that was seeking a subsidy for something that I considered deleterious to the town in which I lived and wanted to make objection to it.

He finds the website of the government department that hands out the subsidies, but

there was no means of communicating with it except by applying to it for a grant. It had no address, postal or e-mail, and no telephone number. Although it was only a department, the website did not say what it was a department of.

In other words, says Dalrymple,

it handed out grants to applicants, but only at its own discretion. Its power was (in its own small corner of the world) absolute. It gave no clue as to the criteria it used in choosing the applicants to subsidise; the public had no say in its deliberations. The public’s only relationship with it was to pay its taxes, from which the subsidies it granted were drawn.

The superiority of Air France over British Airways

Dalrymple will not go into

the rights and wrongs of the managers’ decision to make 2,900 employees of Air France redundant, and whether such a decision was in effect forced on the managers by

  • the financial situation of the company
  • the intransigence of the staff who militated against any kind of change in their very comfortable billets
  • the excessive social charges that the French state imposes upon all employers in France
  • the subsidies received by some its main competitors

He will not go into the matter because he admits to

a weakness for Air France: I find its service agreeable by comparison with, say, that of British Airways, which is as lumpen as the nation of which it is the principal carrier, even though Air France is strike-prone and such a strike once left me stranded in Port-au-Prince. I did not mind this very much, for it allowed me to make the acquaintance of the eminent German author of books about Haiti, Hans Christoph Buch.

What’s in it for us?

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 14.23.35Much of the argument about whether to stay in the European Union turns, writes Dalrymple, on whether people

will be better or worse off if their country stays or leaves, and especially whether the country derives more benefit from its membership than it pays for.

This, he says, is undignified, since it implies that

if we get back in subsidies more than we put in, this is an argument for staying.

Perhaps this is not surprising in Western countries, where

social justice has come to mean a large proportion of the population living at the expense of the remainder of the population.

Subsidies spell poverty

Ineducable

Ineducable

If Hugo Chávez had studied the history of Nauru, writes Dalrymple,

he might have learned something and not led his country to its present plight, though in fact he was probably ineducable, since reality was his greatest political opponent.

Raising standards of living by means of subsidy

ends in tears, not to mention poverty, especially if those subsidies are extensive.

The aid-and-development racket

Bonanza for British firms Bonanza for British firms

Dalrymple explains (from 21:05) how he was once a beneficiary of pork-barrelling.

He was a doctor for a roadbuilding project in Tanzania. The experience

turned me against foreign aid. I saw that it was a corrupt way of subsidising inefficient British companies.

Terribly, frighteningly sincere

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 09.00.03Who would have thought, writes Dalrymple,

that a ridiculous little house painter could have become the leader of the best-educated nation in Europe? Why, then, should an absurd, intellectually limited, puritanical ideologue not become prime minister of one of the most ill-educated nations in Europe?

Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory in the election for the leadership of Britain’s Labour party

shows how little the political class knows even of its own parties’ activist membership, let alone of the country as a whole.

If you dislike Hamas and Hezbollah, Corbyn

is not going to change his opinion or stance merely to canvass or capture your vote. He is sincere, terribly and frighteningly sincere.

He gets some things right, for example in the matter of High Speed 2, the railway to be built between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. This is

so patently an unnecessary, uneconomic, ecologically destructive, vastly expensive and regressive project (regressive in the tax sense, a subsidy both to the companies that will build it and to the passengers who will use it, for it will never pay for itself), that almost everyone suspects large-scale corruption.

Corbyn’s

ruling passion is political self-righteousness.

This is

refreshing in a way, for many people are tired of the patently ersatz or carefully crafted presentation of most other prominent politicians, who seem not to be able to utter a word or appear in public for a moment without having first sought the opinion of focus groups. The next election haunts them like a Doppelgänger, and mostly being of infirm principle or opinion, they live in a state of constant anxiety not to offend.

Corbyn is

  • a wearer of sandals
  • a supporter of Palestinian terrorists
  • a supporter of Irish republican terrorists
  • vegetarian
  • a teetotaller
  • pacifist (except where foreign terrorists are concerned)
  • an abolitionist (concerning the British monarchy)

He is not intrinsically unelectable.

It would take only a few disasters, whether the government was responsible for them or not, for the electorate to conclude that anything, even Mr Corbyn, was better than it. People tend to vote against rather than for someone. The resentment to which Mr Corbyn’s socialism appeals, already quite widespread, could spread yet further if there were a deepening of Britain’s economic problems.

Certain eminently defensible subsidies

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 08.40.33The best city for cinema, Dalrymple points out, is Paris.

You have only to go round the corner to see an intelligent and unusual film. In other places it takes a special effort to do so, if it is possible at all. Even the commercial cinemas in Paris show better films than elsewhere, reflecting the more elevated taste of the Parisian public.

Dalrymple once spent a week in Paris seeing two or three films a day from exotic places.

They often showed at tiny cinemas at odd times in the morning, and sometimes I was the only viewer. If there was anyone else present he or she was usually a peculiar person, even a psychiatrically disturbed one.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 08.49.31This

of course stimulated in me a certain amount of self-examination. The cinemas must have been subsidised by the city, for the seats were very cheap, and while I am in general and on principle opposed to subsidies I am, of course, in favour of them for the things that I am interested in and benefit from. Those subsidies seem to me eminently defensible, and it always gives me a certain wicked pleasure to know that each time I travel on the TGV the French taxpayer is contributing to my fare. The pleasure, I should imagine, is not reciprocal.

Intellectual propaganda against all forms of commerce

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 03.09.17In Britain in the 1970s, it was, writes Dalrymple,

very necessary to try to undo the effect of many years of intellectual propaganda against all forms of commerce, which the intelligentsia then thought was intrinsically besmirching in a way that public service funded by taxation was not. The utopia peddled by the intellectuals was of a society in which everybody and everything was subsidised. (The ultimate source of the subsidies, of course, was of no interest or concern.)