Finally someone stands up for freedom of speech at the Leveson Inquiry:
He lays into Bob Geldof a bit (another super-rich, large-scale tax avoider like Bono who, with no hint of irony or self-awareness, complains that western governments are not taking more ordinary taxpayers money by force to fund an engorgement of ‘aid’ packages to the third world):
His [Geldof’s] British homes were found to be registered in offshore companies, a popular measure with the super-rich costing the hard-pressed British exchequer £1bn a year. And his non-domicile status ensures he avoids paying tax on any overseas earnings, which must be nice.
But it’s not just the hypocrisy. Birrell is pleased St. Bob is finally coming around to the idea that trade and the free market helps elevate poverty better than anything else, but if only Mr. Geldof could see and recognise the harm that the government-enforced aid has done to so many in Africa:
Western politicians of all hues, desperate to look sensitive and caring, cravenly pandered to this aid lobby led by Bob and Bono, while journalists put on kid gloves when engaging with it, ignoring practices that would provoke outrage elsewhere. As a result, global aid spending soared from £50bn a year to £83bn over the first decade of this century; today 595,000 people work in a fiercely-competitive industry.
A study last year found even among these aid workers only about one-third thought their projects worked. In private, many will admit to grave doubts. You could fill this entire newspaper with examples of how the flood of money washes down the drain: a report by two health economists, for example, found nearly two-thirds of health aid in Africa is diverted. The waste, the ineptitude, the tolerance of corruption, the support for repression, the furthering of inequality, the boosting of arms spending is utterly scandalous…all those new colonialists riding around in their big white jeeps telling the locals what is good for them.
“They don’t consult with us,” complained a minister in Somalia, latest recipient of massive British aid. “It’s like a doctor trying to prescribe medicine for a patient you haven’t seen yet.”
This distorts priorities of recipient nations. It leads to the creation of pointless bureaucracy – one study found a typical African country must churn out 10,000 aid reports each year. Additionally, while our government attacks welfare dependency at home, it encourages it abroad with unquestioning support for politicians who have no need to bother responding to the needs of their own citizens.
Imagine how we would feel if armies of Africans came and told us how to run our schools and hospitals (while living in some of the smartest homes)? Or funded politicians who steal and murder? But this is our approach abroad: we know best, our voices count. This is how Britain ended up funding a regime that sent a hit squad to this country to kill people. And how it spent £1bn supporting education in just three east African countries but failed to check whether the teachers turned up or the children were learning; sadly, they were not.
The truth is often counter intuitive. Having our governments take more of our money by force and spend it on aid programs should help so many in Africa and elsewhere. But the reality is that simply stepping back and letting freedom reign does the job far better.
From those very studious chaps (and chapesses) at the Centre For Policy Studies, they’ve made this great simple Iittle video to show, in broad strokes, how smaller governments (all things being equal) perform better than their bigger government counterparts. Enjoy:
Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers Alliance makes the case for it in the Wall Street Journal. I have to say, I really agree with him.
I’ve never come across Allister Heath before. He’s the editor of City A.M.
He’s written some really remarkable stuff, and it seems like I’ve got a lot of back-reading to do. But I wanted to share with you this great editors letter he wrote entitled “It’s austerity all right – but not of the kind we actually need“.
For reasons I can’t quite fathom, this is strangely compelling. Enjoy:
Sorry for banging on about this all the time at the moment, but I think it’s really important that we understand what’s really going on right now.
This narrative that the UK and Europe are embracing ‘austerity’ i.e. shrinking government spending (which is causing the problems over here), and the US is embracing ‘growth’ (which is solving problems in the US) is nonsense. It’s totally the other way around.
Here’s a really great overview of the austerity myth presented to us by the insightful, thoughtful and intelligent Veronique de Rugy for Reason TV (with the ‘man in black’ Nick Gillespie asking the right questions):
It’s simple, it’s not that the US has a left-wing administration that’s increasing “investment” and the UK has a right-wing administration that’s imposing “savage cuts”. Okay, Obama has increased spending (and things would have gotten better faster if he didn’t) but overall, spending is down in the US (mostly because of the majority of state and local governments have been sensible).
In the UK, spending is still increasing. Certain departments have had cuts, but every single month of this coalition government has increased. And you combine that fact with our higher taxes, more authoritarian government and more centralised control, well, you see what you get. A mess.
And why has America done better? The New York Times explains all, with the help of this graph:
It’s the states wot’s won it, but the subsequent dip in unemployment and improving economy are going to be very useful to Obama in the forthcoming election…
The British people have spoken, and they have said: “Meh”. With the worst voter turn-out for 12 years, and with so many cities voting to not have an elected mayor (sticking, sadly to a system that lets crony councillors run things in tired old cabinet systems), it’s clear that it’s an “I am fed up with politics” moment.
Labour are happy with the result, but with turn-out less than a third, it’s not like more people have really voted for them, not in any significant way at least. Tory-run councils have fallen to Labour, not because people have defected to Labour from the Conservatives, but because Tory voters either stayed at home or voted UKIP (who have had a good night, proportionally speaking).
The result actually might be good for Cameron, as it keeps Ed (or ‘Odd’, as I like to call him) Milliband as Labour leader. If Labour did badly, Odd might have been replaced with someone better, and if Labour had done incredibly well (i.e. much better than they actually did), then it might be a cause for concern, as Odd could be a more serious threat to Cameron during the next general election. So this could be the best of all results for Cameron in that regard.
But the really intersecting story is about Boris and the future of politics in general. Here’s an exciting and optimistic summary from the ever-engaging Fraser Nelson.