Does Any of you Realize or Even Care Just How Stuffed We Are?
by JAMES DELINGPOLE
November 12, 2010
It’s never not nice to be in New York and it’s even nicer when you’ve been flown over here for free to hang out in a conveniently placed hotel in the East Village, eat bagels, watch Fox, check out today’s Veteran’s Parade and then discover whether or not you’ve won this year’s Bastiat Prize for Online Journalism.
Obviously I’ll be gutted if I don’t win – not least because Dan Hannan won it last year and Dan doesn’t need the money nearly as badly as I do. But even if I don’t win I’d like to say simply this: thank God for the existence of the most important prize in journalism.
Why does the Bastiat Prize matter so much? Because it’s about the only prize left which celebrates those true journalistic virtues of scepticism and inquiry which our libtard MSM has all but abandoned in its eagerness to suck up to whichever bunch of statist shysters currently happen to be in power. It’s about free markets, about small government, about liberty.
Started in 2002, the Bastiat Prize was inspired by 19th-century French philosopher Frédéric Bastiat’s compelling defence of liberty and eloquent explanations of complex economic issues. Judges have included former UK Chancellor Lord Lawson, Pulitzer prize-winning author Anne Applebaum, former Bastiat Prize winner and best-selling author Amity Shlaes, Lady Thatcher and Nobel laureates James Buchanan and the late Milton Friedman.
Tonight, when I make my speech (all the finalists have to make them) I’ll have the rare pleasure of knowing I’m addressing an audience which properly understands how much work there is to be done if the world is to be saved from the soft tyranny of liberal left collectivisim. Here in the US they’re struggling – not very successfully under Obama’s insane spending policy, it must be said – to clear a national debt of $13.7 trillion. In Britain – as you’ll learn tonight on Martin Durkin’s gripping, monumentally depressing Channel 4 documentary – we’re saddled with a no less eyewatering national debt of £4.8 trillion. (If you built a stack of £50 notes to reach that figure, it would be 6,500 miles high. And if you sold every single house and flat in Britain, you’d still be £1 trillion short of paying off the debt).
These figures may seem so incomprehensibly vast that they just make you want to shake your head and go: well there’s nothing we can do. But in fact there is something we can do and the fact is that neither the British nor the US administrations are coming anywhere near doing it. We need to cut spending on the (economically useless) public sector; we need to encourage the (economically essential) private sector by cutting taxes. It has worked in Hong Kong since the Sixties; it has worked in all those Far Eastern economies which have been following the Hong Kong model; it worked for the US during the Reagan administration; it is working now in Rwanda and Georgia, of all places. Lower taxes mean faster economic growth. Economic growth means not just richer rich people, but also less-poor poor people, and better health and education. It really is that simple and it is to the eternal shame of our political class that they have not been able to make the case for it.
Britain – even more than the US, I think, which is going to be rescued by the values of the Tea Party movement – is en route to disaster. The share of our economy taken up by the government (ie the public sector) is now 53 per cent; in Communist China the figure is 25 per cent. Even at the peak of the Soviet Union the figure was only 70 per cent. At the height of Britain’s economic power in the Victorian era, the figure was 10 per cent.
Does anyone else out there care about this? Or do you all think it’s just for the kind of swivel-headed loons who will be talking about crazy stuff like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at tonight’s Bastiat Prize dinner?