Friday, 12 May 2006

Author meets Thatcher

The author of The Welfare State We're In confessed to nervousness when being introduced recently to Margaret Thatcher. Says James Batholemew of the meeting:
I told her that the book argues that we would be better off if the previous welfare systems had been allowed to develop instead of being replaced by the welfare state. She announced, "You must suggest an alternative. If you say the welfare state is no good, you must suggest an alternative."

I have agonised about this before in a previous entry on this website. I said to her that it would be a big job, requiring a lot of research and I doubted people would want to read my particular blueprint. She was having none of that, saying words to the effect: "If you can't think of a good way of communicating it, then you must
find a way of communicating it."

I felt like a junior minister being given his instructions. I could see the logic of what she said - all too clearly.
She's right you know, and not just about the welfare state. Just as it's important to argue the ethical issues underlying political principles -- in this particular case the ethic of altruism and of enforced moral cannibalism -- so too it's important to clearly set out the direct you propose. No dissembling; no prevaricating; no fudging; just clearly and consistently setting out the goalposts you intend to push towards: Because if you don't point out those goals posts, then no-one else is going to do it for you.
LINKS: Baroness Thatcher gives me my instructions - The Welfare State We're In
Cue Card Libertarianism - Altruism - Not PC
Cue Card Libertarianism - Welfarism - Not PC
TAGS: Welfare, Politics, Politics-UK


  1. So if it is so important to coherently spell out an alternative, then why is that so infrequently attempted by libertarians? It is all very well to argue ivory-tower principles of anti-welfarism, but when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of a real alternative, this usually boils down to, 'Well, people would be free to spend their own money as they wish, and be naturally moved towards charity. Or will finally see that if the ungrateful moochers can't pay, they actually SHOULD starve.'

  2. Actually if you don't set the goal posts then someone else WILL do it for you. And then tell you that you failed to do what you set out to achieve.