Saturday, January 25, 2014

What to do about the poor?

John Ward has an appalled look at the underclass and, though naturally a humane man, is leaning in the direction of abortion and sterilisation. I say:

I teach their children. Your observations - and I share your worries - raise philosophical and econo-political questions.
1. Before advocating abortion and sterilisation, consider whether we are nothing more than temporary forms of matter with the capacity for pleasure and pain. If a grain of sand is a nothing then there are no Arabian sands, since a zillion times nothing is nothing. This kind of thinking allowed Stalin to murder millions of people for the good of... er...
2. Peter Hitchens (who makes a living by stating what fifty years ago would have been unpublishable because it would have been thought too bleedin' obvious) is quite right that the middle class, by giving themselves ever-greater license in terms of substance abuse and sexual mores, have ruined the working class who do not have the same resources to recover from the concomitant pitfalls.
3. Much of the moral decay is also owing to a deteriorating economy and the shockingly cynical callousness shown towards the working class even by the Labour Party. What happened to the Rover works at Longbridge, Birmingham in the runup to the 2000 General Election is a damning reason why I can never see the modern LP as the friend of the workers.
4. As John Mortimer has Rumpole observe, the woes of the underclass provide much lucrative employment for their superiors, so the rot has spread much further than is immediately visible.The political class has signally failed the country as a whole.
5. The temporary beneficiaries of this state of affairs are the upper strata, who have created (as in e.g. the EU) a transnational governing class that is suborning the news media and any other form of supervision and governance that might restrict their endless self-enrichment. Their intermarriage (or interfornication) is, I suggest, leading to the surreptitious re-creation of a full-blown aristocracy - Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube (“Let others wage wars: you, fortunate Austria, marry”). The TV commentators dine with the ministers and money-men, but neglected to bring a long spoon. Soon they will wear the livery of their true masters, and the more attractive or better-connected among their children shall refresh the bloodline of the new global ruling class. "Notting Hill and Islington, you have stolen my land away."
6. Part of the process is economic globalisation. Sir James Goldsmith warned us all in 1983 at the time of GATT, and now that the talks have stalled, see (those who matter in) the US pushing on via the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
7. And to distract (one of the central themes of your blog) from this dreadful scheme we are encouraged to click our tongues at what is now the benefit class, people who once were the hewers of wood and drawers of water and have been abandoned and exploited at every turn, latterly to scare the lower middle class into submission (in the vain hope that they will not be next). We are enjoined to moralise at the unfortunate victims of our own actions:
“If it were indeed the case that bad nourishment, little education, lack of air and sunshine, unhealthy housing conditions, and overwork produce better people than are produced by good nourishment, open air, adequate education and housing, and a reasonable amount of leisure, the whole case for economic reconstruction would collapse, and we could rejoice that such a large percentage of the population enjoys the conditions that make for virtue.” - Bertrand Russell, "Unpopular Essays"
8. A heavy reckoning is coming, and not just for the current poor.

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A K Haart said...

"the woes of the underclass provide much lucrative employment for their superiors"

Good point. In a sense the underclass are broken windows because we don't believe the broken window fallacy is a fallacy at all. Glaziers don't.

Mark Wadsworth said...

That's a good list.

What hacks me off most of all is this meme that magically blames the recession on the unemployed. That's like blaming WW1 on the people who died in the trenches.