Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Conservatives plan to take us forward to 19th century welfarism
The authors will have to forgive Toynbee and many others of us on the left of centre for being highly sceptical. I have always found the idea of rich people being relied upon to be charitable problematic. My reading of Conservative thinking is that it has a somewhat pessimistic view of human nature; hence the need for strong law and order arrangements and networks of socially binding institutions like family, school and the rest. Now if we cannot rely on people to be socially responsible, how can we expect them to take that even more difficult step to become socially altruistic?
I remember too a leader in the Economist shortly after Nigel Lawson slashed the higher rate of income tax to 40p in the £. The economically 'dry' journal welcomed the move but added the rather schoolmasterish proviso that it now expected the rich-as in the USA- to give far more generously to charity. I've yet to see evidence that charitable donations surged forward in the wake of the tax cuts. Rich people, according to my view of them, tend to take increases in their income as deserved, as of right and to spend it on themselves. I'm not sure how these voluntary bodies are going to stand in for welfare agencies- my copy of the book, ordered from Iain Dale's online Politicos bookshop, has still not arrived- but to rely on the dubious largesse of the rich rather than the assured support of the state, seems a poor exchange for the disadvantaged.
Some of the comments on The Guardian web site to Polly Toynbee's article are truely jaw-dropping.
Incidentally, Skipper, I ordered something from Politicos recently and it arrived in breakneck speed. ( - a Labour mug from the "Economic Disaster II" campaign in 2001, a few Harold Wilson postcards and a rather amusing "Up For Portillo" baseball cap.)
I'm sorry that a lot of lefties can't seem to accept that many public services are in need of reform (not least because they stopped evolving during the Thatcher/Major years).
I'm in no doubt that this government is fully behind the concepts of the welfare state and of proper funding for public services......
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