Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Liberty, Nationalism and Patriotism

I listened with interest to the first two videos[1][2] in the recent series “Chris Tame from Beyond the Grave,” in which Chris discusses immigration. David McDonagh’s dissenting view[3] I also found most interesting.

Unfortunately, there are no transcripts of the videos. So, for the first one, I’ll copy the notes I made on it. “Chris likens immigration to an invasion. The invaders are not acclimatized to, or may even be hostile to, liberal (American readers: libertarian) values and liberal civilization. They might – or might not – assimilate quickly if this was a free market society; but it isn’t. He concludes by describing this immigration as an act of ‘national murder.’” For the second video, I hope David won’t mind me quoting his summary: “Chris says the national state has been justified and he says mass immigration will lead to totalitarianism, to a low wage economy, that mass immigration is not free anyway as we have the welfare state, that it is more like an invasion than mere immigration, as the newcomers are hostile to British culture, that the ruling class has organised this to cow the native workers on low wages and that despotism will be the result.”

I confess I didn’t know until now that Chris near the end of his life had taken such a strong nationalist and anti-immigration stance. At the time he made the video (late 2005) there had indeed, in the previous year or so, been the start of a huge influx of immigrants into the UK. But a high proportion of immigrants at that time were Polish. Maybe some of these Poles, having only recently been freed from communism, were in a sense not acclimatized to liberal values. But at least going by the Polish people I know both here and in Poland, I don’t think the accusation that they are hostile to liberal civilization stands up to scrutiny.

As to Muslims, Chris may perhaps have been on somewhat firmer ground, with the terrorist attacks of July 2005 still fresh in people’s memories at the time. (Since I started writing this, further atrocities have happened in Brussels, which also may well prove to have been the work of Muslims). But I still think it’s wrong to cast aspersions on all Muslims just because some Muslims behave badly. Granted, Islam isn’t a very nice religion. But then, as anyone who has ever read the bible cover to cover will know, Christianity isn’t very nice either.

Chris describes the immigration as an “invasion.” But any invasion must be planned. And that means someone must have planned it. Actually, I think Chris was right on this one. It was planned. And he even knew who did it; for he talks of an enemy class, seeking to destroy our liberal values and our civilization.

My own reading of the entrails is that, sometime around 2000, Blair and co realized that without major change, their welfare state was going to come totally unstuck; and soon enough that they would still be around to face the fall-out. Like any Ponzi scheme, the welfare state requires a constant supply of new useful idiots to survive. With an aging population and a falling birth rate, there were not going to be enough young working people domestically to take up the strain. So, they decided to import the useful idiots they needed from outside. They made coming to work in the UK attractive to potential immigrants. Get enough of them in, they probably thought, and the welfare state might last another generation or so. Long enough, very likely, for them to be safely in their graves by the time shit hits fan. And damn the consequences to the social fabric, or to anything or anyone else; that’s just “collateral damage” from a politician’s point of view.

And more recently, Cameron and co, despite promises to the contrary, have not merely maintained the nett inflow of immigrants, but actually increased it significantly. That’s rather suggestive, no?

Be all that as it may; for me, the most important point in the discussion was made by David McDonagh. That was, “Nationalism and what is now called libertarianism clash.” Or, to put it another way, liberal values are incompatible with nationalism, with the nation state and with its politics. I think David is spot-on correct here.

David simply states this as a fact. I’ll try to add two arguments to support it. One, a society based on liberal values will be a bottom-up society, always upholding the rights of individuals. Such a society will be for the benefit of the individuals who comprise it, not the individuals for the benefit of the society. But nationalism is a top-down ideal. Under nationalism, the nation is everything and the individual, ultimately, is nothing. And democracy – as I’ve explained elsewhere[4] – only makes things worse. Eventually, any state based on nationalism will degenerate into the kind of mess we suffer today, in which a criminal ruling class and their hangers-on claim a “divine” right to do anything they think they can get away with.

The second argument is historical. From the 1820s onwards, in Britain at least, liberal values were in the ascendant. This lasted until about the 1870s, when the rot began to set in; for example, with the state getting its mitts on education, and the introduction of strict liability in criminal law. It was around the same time that nationalism on the Continent really got going, for example in Italy and Germany. The gradual but inexorable decline of individual freedom has been contemporaneous with the period in which the nation state has become the primary political structure worldwide. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

If we agree that liberal values and nationalism are incompatible, and if we want to live in a society based on liberal values, then we are driven to a conclusion which some will find highly unpalatable. That is, that we must reject nationalism and the nation state.

And further; those that are hostile to our liberal values are our enemies. And that is so whether they are native born, foreigners or immigrants. Blair is our enemy. Cameron and May are our enemies. Islamist terrorists are our enemies too, of course. But we must never, ever, compromise ourselves by allowing one set of enemies to play us off against another. And we must never, ever give our support to any state policy or action designed to harm innocent people; nor to any increase in state power that can enable it to increase the harm it does to innocent people.

I myself have indeed come to these conclusions. And so for me “Britain,” when used in a political rather than a geographical sense, is a dirty word (as is “America”); and I want nothing of it. This is perhaps the biggest single issue which divides me from Sean Gabb and most of the other denizens at the Libertarian Alliance. I’m disappointed to find that Chris Tame also seems late in life to have moved over to the dark side on this issue. I can only presume that the ideas he presents in these videos were ones he was still mulling over and had not yet fully thought through; in that case, he would have been able to correct his mistake had he lived longer.

And yet, and yet... Where did those liberal values, by which we set such great store and which were so much in the ascendant for half of the 19th century, come from? The short answer is, they came from the Enlightenment. And where did the Enlightenment come from? The very short (and over-simple) answer is; it came from England and Scotland.

Recently, I wrote a humorous “Brief History of England” in verses of the common metre. One side effect I felt from the process was a strengthening of my feeling of Englishness. Make no mistake; English history, like all political history, is violent, bloody and full of dishonesty and injustice. But I felt myself almost shouting for the very few (relatively) good guys. For King Alfred and Good Queen Bess, for example. For Charles II, who tried hard in an impossible situation; and William III, who was a good guy as long as you were a Protestant. Lack of time prevented me from even mentioning my favourite monarch of them all, William IV. (I think it no coincidence that several pubs in my area are named after him!)

How can it be, I mused, that I, who reject the nation state called Britain, can yet feel a strong sense of connection with England (and Scotland too), and with their culture and their history? The answer I found was this: although I reject nationalism, I do not reject the idea of patriotism.

Nationalism and patriotism are often used as synonyms for each other; I suspect that the confusion is often deliberate. But in reality, they’re quite different things. Nationalism is a feeling of love or respect for a political community; whereas patriotism is a feeling of respect or love for a land or country, a culture and a heritage. It’s no contradiction to reject the first, while accepting, even eagerly accepting, the second.

Consider: When Welsh people sing “Land of my Fathers,” they aren’t talking about some bunch of politicians in Cardiff. They are singing of the hills and the valleys, the sheep pastures and the coal fields (not to mention the rugby fields), and the people who live, and have lived, in the country called Wales. Even more obvious is the difference between nationalism and patriotism for Jews. Before 1914, many European Jews were fervent nationalists for whichever country they happened to live in. Yet for a Jew, the homeland is and always has been the Holy Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. That is why, when Israel was created, it was sited there.

Back to immigration. The way I look at the issue, a state cannot have any right to set borders to keep people out (or in), because the only valid borders are those set by property owners to exclude unwanted people from all or part of their property. So there cannot reasonably be any barriers to individual migration. However, the deliberate planning and fanning of mass migration is an entirely different matter.

Apart from a very few scoundrels, it isn’t the immigrants themselves who are the problem. At worst, they will merely remain useful idiots, or eventually they may leave. At best, many of them will learn to embrace our liberal values, and can become potential allies for the future. The real problem lies with the politicians and cronies that, for their own selfish reasons, ordered (and Chris was right to use the word) an invasion of migrants. They are “people traffickers.” They are the ones that should be rejected by all right thinking people, and punished for what they did.

Let me suggest – tongue only half in cheek – a solution to the immigration problem. All economic migrants who wish to come to the UK, whether from Iraq, or Syria, or Libya, or Poland, or anywhere else – should be accepted, unless they have criminal convictions or are reasonably suspected of involvement with terrorism. But for every immigrant who arrives, we should deport a politician or a bureaucrat to wherever the immigrant came from. Blair should be the first to go – to Iraq, for the same treatment as Saddam Hussein got – and Cameron the second, to Syria to experience the bomb-the-hell-out-of-them policy at first hand.

To sum up: Liberal values are incompatible with nationalism. But liberal values are perfectly compatible with patriotism. Indeed, these liberal values are themselves part of the culture and heritage of the people of England and Scotland; and likewise, of the cultures which are derived from them. So, seeking a society based on liberal values requires rejecting the nation state and the current political order; but it doesn’t require rejecting your sense of country, culture or heritage. You can be a good patriot without having to be a nationalist. And that, I think, has some relevance and application to the matters at hand.


Monday, 21 March 2016

Why the Welfare State is a Fraud - Part 3

Part 3

It is plain that something is seriously wrong with the societies we live in today. Welfare is only one part of a bigger problem. What is that problem? I think I can tell you what it is.

But I must approach the answer in a roundabout manner. Long ago, at school, I studied history like everyone else. I did not get on with the history master. Which was very fortunate for me; for it meant that I learned almost nothing of school history, except the dates of the kings of England. When, then, as an adult I came to read a little about history, I was not saddled with preconceptions.

What I found, in my reading of history, was essentially this.

Firstly, human institutions, when they meet the needs of their times, rise and flourish. When they cease to meet the needs of their times, they decay and die. Secondly, there are periods of history when there is tension between an old way and a new. These times are characterized by, on the one hand, great progress, and on the other, chaos, war, repression or a combination of the three. And thirdly, we're in one of those times right now.

It is fashionable among the most forward-thinking people today to say that the political state, the top-down structure of institutional violence that has been the model for human societies for thousands of years, is out of date. And for me, these thinkers are dead right. The state has passed its last-use-by date; and we're all feeling the effects.

There was a time, a little less than two centuries ago, when we were moving in the right direction. The state was losing its charm. The old ruling class were losing their grip. People were demanding a bigger say in how the societies they lived in were run. Meanwhile, the Industrial Revolution was beginning to spread, and to deliver its promise of better living standards for all.

But then – as I understand it – something went badly wrong. What should have happened is that the two new classes of the time – the capitalists, the brain-power of the new industrial age, and the workers, its muscle-power – should have banded together to bring down the old, corrupt ruling class. There should have been a class war, leading to the destruction of the top-down, violent state.

But that didn't happen. Instead – and by what devious trickery I do not know, though I am sure it must have been devious trickery – the ruling class contrived to turn the workers and the capitalists against each other. This had three bad effects. One, the Industrial Revolution was rendered far less effective in raising the quality of human life than it should have been. Two, the ruling class and their political state managed to wriggle out of the trap set for them. Three, when Karl Marx and his friends came on the scene, they ignited class war all right – but it was war between the wrong classes. No wonder Marxism failed so badly!

From that time, the remnant of the ruling class have done everything they can to expand their own power, and the power of the institution they feed off, the state. They and their henchmen have set themselves up to be a political class, a new ruling class, albeit ruling more subtly than the bad kings of old.

And there has been little opposition to the political class and their scheming. For most people have been fooled into accepting, even into supporting, the political class and their state. Having established the sham called democracy, and the fiction that democracy makes morally right whatever sufficiently many say they want, the political class set out to hoodwink as many working people as they could into thinking that the state, and so the political class, was on their side.

They carried off the deception for quite a while, didn't they?

* * *

What does all this have to do with welfare? When you put it into context, you see that the welfare state is merely an underhanded attempt by the political class to make people think that the political class are on their side. The welfare state is, and always has been, a giant fraud, committed by the political class against everyone else, especially the productive.

You can see, too, why they created the welfare state when they did. In the 1940s, people had had a sharp taste of what political states are really about – violence and war. No wonder the political class wanted to be seen to give people what must have looked at the time like a sweetener.

The answers to some of the questions I asked earlier now become blindingly obvious. The welfare state hasn't ended poverty, because it was never intended to end poverty. Indeed, for the political class to keep up their pretence of being on the side of the poor, poverty has to be perpetuated, not ended.

The reason why many welfare proponents don't practise what they preach about giving to the poor and needy, is that they don't have any compassion for the poor and needy. That's all a front. Instead, they have a hatred of people who earn an honest living. They hate us for being productive. They hate us for being good at what we do. They hate business. Business, to them, is money-grubbing, and is beneath them. So, welfare is just a convenient excuse for them to take as much earned wealth as they can away from productive people.

The reason why we good people don't get any thanks or appreciation for all that we pay and have paid, is that the political class are stealing from us far more than just money. For, to whom do the unthinking welfare recipients give their thanks and their respect? Not to the people who earned the wealth they are living off, but to the political class that re-distributed it in their direction. The political class steal from good people, not only our earned wealth, but also the appreciation and respect which we deserve.

The reason why the politicians all want to throw more and more money at the welfare system, is just that they want to take more and more of our money. Oh, that was an easy one! And the reason why there is no stigma attached to receiving benefits, is that the political class actually want to encourage people to take their bribes and feed at their trough. They want as many of us as possible to become dependent on them and their welfare state.

This is the same reason why the political class don't worry too much about the existence of the underclass. Hell, if they can haul enough people down into dependency, then the votes of the dependent, in the sham called democracy, could keep the political class in power, and their welfare state in continued existence, for ever.

The reason why, despite all the technological progress and hard work, many people today are worse off than their forebears were fifty years ago, is that today there's a huge dead weight holding down the economy. That dead weight is the weight of the political class – and it is increasing and increasing.

Isn't it a clever trick that the political class have played on us? Invent a scheme that takes earned wealth away from people, but fool them into thinking they are benefiting from it. Some of them will be dragged down into poverty. How great! You can use that as an excuse to take away more and more wealth from everyone! Meanwhile, you and your political-class cronies can enjoy popularity, power and spending other people's money. Not to mention the pleasure of hurting the productive people you hate and despise so much.

So, what is it, this bigger problem I referred to, of which the welfare state is only one part? The answer is now before us. The political class are the problem.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A Brief History of England

A Brief History of England
From 871 to the Present
(To be sung, by those with stamina, to “While shepherds watched their flocks by night”)
By The Darn-Poor Rhymer

King Alfred first did codify
The English common law,
Which does to everyone apply;
To rich as well as poor.

The men of Wessex ruled the lands,
The forests and the plains.
But then, along came raiding-bands;
So next, we tried the Danes.

Wise King Canute said to his moot,
While sitting by the sea,
“My friends, you may give me the boot
If one wave touches me.”

But English history has a tide
That’s predisposed to tangles;
Canute’s descendants were off-side.
So next, we tried the Angles.

King Harry nearly did manage
To stave off relegation;
He won away at Stamford Bridge!
But then he lost the nation.

That bastard William fought his way
Through ditch, and bog, and trench;
An arrow ended Harry’s day.
So next, we tried the French.

The Domesday Tax, the Rufus Stone,
Are Norman monuments;
King Henry, too, made people moan,
All at their own expense.

King Stephen’s reign was anarchy,
And monstrous were his debts;
We needed change, as all could see.
We tried Plantagenets.

To John, the barons would not cede;
Submission? A non-starter.
They forced him, thus, to Runnymede,
To sign the Magna Carta.

King Edward did expel the Jew,
And taxed haves and have-nots.
The Welshmen first he did subdue,
Then hammered the poor Scots.

At Crécy did the longbows twang,
Poitiers and Agincourt.
Again, again, the arrows sang
For England; ’twas fine sport.

Alas! The century long fight
Was by mad Henry lost.
And soon the Red Rose and the White
Were warring, at great cost.

Bad Richard’s hopes of governing
In Bosworth’s mud did squelch;
No nail, no shoe, no horse, no King.
So next, we tried the Welsh.

King Henry Eight six wives did wed;
Divorced, beheaded, passed
Away, dismissed, gave up her head,
But one did him outlast.

Soon Bloody Mary did the land
With martyrs’ gore bespot;
And Good Queen Bess remained unmanned,
So next, we tried a Scot.

King Charlie’s reign was full of tears,
The people up were fed;
So Henry Burton lost his ears,
But Charlie lost his head.

An Interregnum then ensued;
Our lives got rather gnarly.
So, as the military argued,
We tried another Charlie.

The new king tolerance avowed;
Our hopes had ne’er been higher.
But Protestants and Catholics rowed,
And we had plague and fire.

When James came king, ’twas quite a jolt.
We didn’t like it much;
There was rebellion and revolt.
So then, we tried the Dutch.

King William bred no Orange men;
Beset by many doubts,
We briefly tried the Danes again,
And then we tried the Krauts.

But England was no more. Alas!
In 1707,
An “Act of Union” they did pass,
Abolishing our heaven.

Three centuries we’ve had since then;
Mixed fortunes, hopes and fears.
Yet, more and more, we Englishmen
Have been reduced to tears.

Now Silly Lizzie sits astride
A throne that’s but a token,
There’s no more justice, no more pride;
Society is broken.

King Dave, King Tony, Drongo too,
Have given us no quarter;
They’d like to flush us down the loo,
Had they sufficient water.

King Alfred, if he came again,
Would likely douse the floor
With tears, at seeing evil men
Corrupt his common law.

Yet honest Englishmen, I know,
On England’s soil still roam.
And Alfred would be pleased, I trow,
That England’s still our home.

Why the Welfare State is a Fraud - Part 2

Part 2

Even a decade ago, I used to ask myself serious questions about the welfare state. One, why hasn't it ended poverty? It's had plenty of time to do it. Two, why do many welfare-state proponents fail to practise what they preach about caring for the poor and needy? Why don't they put their money where their mouths are?

Three, in exchange for the large sums of money which have been taken from me over the years, why have I never had even a single word of thanks or appreciation from any welfare recipient? Not even from one of them, not even once. Ungrateful bastards.

Four, why do the politicians all offer the same solution to the problems of the welfare system – to throw more and more tax money into the pot? Five, why isn't there a social stigma attached to receiving benefits? Why isn't failing to pull your weight in the economy looked on as shameful?

Recently, my questioning has become more radical. What, I began by asking myself, is the moral basis, which justifies expecting people to help those in need?

I can see three possible answers to this question. The first is mutual aid. Accident, illness or disability can hit anyone, as can unemployment. And old age hits everyone who doesn't die young. I see no reason why people should not invest in schemes of mutual aid or insurance, which provide benefits, in proportion to their contributions, to those who need them when they need them. Such schemes existed before the welfare state – for example, the friendly societies. And, by and large, they worked reasonably well.

But if a scheme is set up in such a way that the dishonest can take out more than they are entitled to, it is no longer a mutual aid scheme. It is simply a mechanism for re-distribution of wealth from the honest to the dishonest. Nor can any scheme be mutual aid, if it requires some to pay more than others for the same level of benefits. Yet this is exactly what has happened with the welfare state. So the basis of the welfare state, whatever it may be, is not mutual aid.

The second possible moral basis for helping the needy is solidarity. But solidarity with whom? Plainly, I should feel solidarity with those who share my culture and my values. But what of those that don't share my values? And what of those that behave in ways I disapprove of, or even do things actively hostile to me?

Surely I have no obligation to show solidarity with, or to do anything to help, those that behave as my enemies? Particularly if they despise the things I hold dear – like individual freedom, civil liberties, independence, honesty, common-sense justice, tolerance, work ethic, earned prosperity, dynamism, human progress and striving for excellence?

Why, indeed, should I care about those that don't even try to earn an honest living and to be a nett benefit to me and to other good people? Why should I waste my resources on those that are nothing but a drain on me? And why should I give anything to those that dishonestly milk the system?

I can be sympathetic towards those who cannot earn because of old age, or disability, or accident or illness, or if their opportunities to earn are limited for reasons outside their control. But not if their failure to earn is due to laziness or dishonesty. Nor, indeed, if they are hostile to business. From where do those, that hate and despise honest business, get any claim to any of the wealth it creates?

What of those that have supported re-distribution of my earnings towards others – or towards themselves? They have taken from me without asking me. They have not shown me goodwill. They have not behaved as my fellows. So why should I have any solidarity with them? They owe me compensation; I don't owe them anything.

And what of those, that urge or approve of political policies that annoy or inconvenience me? If, for example, they call for or support draconian speed limits on the roads? Why should I give a single penny to any bastard that wants to slow me down or try to catch me out? Or if they support Labour's bad "law" called IR35, designed to ruin my career and the careers of tens of thousands of other independent consultants? Why should I feed those that bite my hand?

Come to that, why should I help anyone that takes part in any kind of politics? Politics is a dirty game, that no self-respecting human being should ever attempt to play. Why should I help those that don't share my disgust for politics and politicians?

I feel no solidarity with the lazy, with the dishonest, with the political, with business-haters, with those that favour re-distribution of my earned wealth. And yet, the welfare state forces me to pay for all of them. So I must conclude that, whatever roots the welfare state may be based on, solidarity is not one of them.

The third possible moral basis for helping people in need is charity. When people's lives are devastated by an event outside anyone's control, such as the Asian tsunami of December 2004 or Hurricane Katrina in 2005, then it makes sense for all of us to do something to help them. It is very reasonable to give enough to help them back to their feet, back to their independence. And that is the end of the matter.

But the welfare state doesn't stop when people have been helped out of the worst of their troubles. Quite the opposite, in fact. The welfare state offers incentives for people to become dependent on it. It sucks people down into dependence. It sucks them down into permanent trouble.

No, the welfare state isn't based on charity, either. Which leaves me scratching my head, with the question: If the welfare state isn't about mutual aid, or solidarity, or charity, then what in hell can it possibly be about?

Monday, 7 March 2016

Why the Welfare State is a Fraud - Part 1

(From the archives - September 26th, 2006. This is another three-parter)

Part 1

In 1942, in the depths of war, William Beveridge authored a report. There were already state schemes in Britain for pensions, health and unemployment insurance. What Beveridge proposed to do was bring these all together into one giant, all-encompassing combine – the welfare state.

Many people liked Beveridge's ideas. They liked the idea of a safety net to prevent them becoming poor. They liked the idea of financial security in their old age. They must have thought they were getting something for nothing. But they didn't stop to think about the long-term costs. They didn't think about the burden they would be storing up for people in the future.

Labour politicians, spying a chance to get themselves power, jumped on Beveridge's scheme. Worn out by war, the people were conned. They voted for it in droves. So, the British welfare state was born.

By 1948, most of the welfare-state proposals had been implemented. Although some thinkers, even Beveridge himself, were already starting to worry what kind of monster he had sired. Since then, many other countries have set up state welfare systems, following the British model more or less closely.

In Britain at least, it isn't just pensions, health and unemployment insurance that are provided by government, and financed through taxation. There is subsidized housing. There is "free" education. Even bus services are subsidized. The whole system is like a giant whirlpool, in which some of the money taken from us through taxation is eventually returned to us in one form or another – but a lot of it just disappears.

So, what effect has the welfare state had on our lives? Today, after almost sixty years, has it ended poverty? Has it made us all better off? Has it provided us with financial security in our old age?

The answer to the first question is clear. The welfare state hasn't ended poverty. Far from it. It has, so the sociologists tell us, created an underclass. With no desire to work for a living, and in many cases with criminal tendencies, the underclass are unemployed, unemployable and dependent on the state for their very existence.

And it is not just in Britain that welfare has failed to end poverty. I quote from a recent article by Michael D. Tanner of the Cato Institute about welfare in the USA:

"Despite this government largesse, 37 million Americans continue to live in poverty. In fact, despite nearly $9 trillion in total welfare spending since Lyndon Johnson declared War on Poverty in 1964, the poverty rate is perilously close to where it was when we began, more than 40 years ago.”

There is worse. Fifty years ago, one working parent could support a family. Now, it takes two – and even two incomes are often not enough. Buying a home, too, has become an increasing strain for working people. How can it be that, despite the enormous advances we have made in technology in fifty years, and despite the fact that many people work harder than ever, overall we are worse off, not better?

There is yet worse. Unless there is radical change, most people now in their 50s or younger will never get pensions sufficient to live on. If we save, our savings will become worthless the next time the politicians debauch the currency, as they did in the 1970s. If we don't save, there will be nothing left in the pot for us, no matter how much we have put in. The so-called compact between the generations, which was supposed to assure us of pensions, has failed.

The confiscatory tax burden on us has risen steeply in the last half century. Both direct aid indirect taxes have gone up and up. And the yield from these taxes is used now for purposes way beyond pensions, health and unemployment insurance, even beyond "free" education and subsidized housing. Many of these purposes bring no conceivable benefit at all to those who pay the costs. For example, it was recently revealed that a quarter of the "council tax" we pay in England – supposedly for roads, parks, police and the like – actually goes on pensions for state employees.

And those in power are for ever looking for new excuses to take our resources away from us. For example, new "green" taxes, or empowering themselves to confiscate our homes if we leave them empty for more than a few months.

Claiming to represent "the community,” the politicians, national and local, use money taken from us to seek popularity. A recent proposal to offer people regular "health MOT checks" is a good example of this. The politicians encourage people to clamour for the benefits they offer, while not thinking about the costs, or about who will be expected to pay them. And increasingly, what is taken from us is used on dubious schemes that provide for no-one's needs, but merely reward political correctness, such as grants to install solar heating.

The re-distributive welfare state has also caused moral decay. Many people now show no shame about taking as much as they possibly can from the trough, even if they don't either need or deserve it. If I don't take it, they say, someone else will. It is not surprising that, if people are encouraged to behave badly like this, you get a bad society. And the virtues of independence and self-help have been all but forgotten.

We have also lost what I call the passive sanction. When people behave in a way we don't like, we should be able, non-aggressively, to tell them so. We should be able to choose the severity of our sanction as the situation demands, from the raised eyebrow right up to outright ostracism. We should certainly have the right to deny financial help to those that behave badly towards us. But the welfare state has taken this right away from us.

And it is not just in Britain that there are problems like these. I quote Tanner again: "Government welfare programs have torn at the social fabric of the country and been a significant factor in increasing out-of-wedlock births with all of their attendant problems. They have weakened the work ethic and contributed to rising crime rates. Most tragically of all, the pathologies they engender have been passed on from parent to child, from generation to generation."

However, some have greatly benefited from the welfare state. It has given the politicians a chance to appear generous and compassionate, while all the time spending other people's money. And it has brought about an enormous increase in bureaucracy, with the arrogance, incompetence and waste that go with it. Those in control of the welfare state, and those that have found nice little niches in it, have done very well out of it, thank you. At our expense, of course – at the expense of the real working people.