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Beware Of The Wolf

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Moreover, just how do we suppose all this government spending is determined and what do we imagine are its effects? Even in some Utopia where it was carried out in a totally disinterested fashion and with a complete disregard for its base, political returns, those disbursing the funds from this fantasy Whitehall can have no real idea of whether they are using them to their best purpose, as Mises and Hayek long ago made plain.

Worse, by spending on things which are either under-productive (in particular, the surplus goods churned out by zombie companies and obsolescent industries), unproductive (make-work programmes and Olympic stadia), or even utterly counter-productive (e.g., the Health & Safety Stasi and all the bloody panoply of foreign adventurism), they are exercising a demand where none freely exists, further distorting the crucial relative price signals which best ensure the harmonious working of the economy. A reduction in the number and magnitude of such impediments to material well-being is hardly a loss, therefore, should the state desist from its urge to launch yet another tired, old, New Deal.

To return to the case of schooling which we adduced above, the chances are, of course, that you would take over direct responsibility for the task, perhaps by clubbing together with your neighbours to hire a tutor or tutors to work for you and by using the larger after-tax (or after-inflation) income the shrunken state has now left in your pocket to engage one or more recently-released teachers at what will probably turn out to be a lower overall cost – and for a greater overall return – than before.

After all, you will no longer have to support him – under threat of imprisonment if you demur – when he tries to fill your children’s heads with crude propaganda or wastes their time on fatuous, centrally-mandated exercises in Cultural Marxism. Nor will you have to pay for all the intervening layers of bureaucrats who not only steal your money and transfer it to some government-appointed pedagogue – regardless of this latter’s personal merit and absent any control over what he purports to teach your offspring – but who also each take a sizeable cut for both their current upkeep and their own, feather-bedded, early retirements at every one of the many intervening acts of paper-shuffling along the way.

More directly, do you suppose it too far-fetched to imagine that the similarly disburdened businessman might be tempted to take advantage of the abundance of cheap resources, both human and material – suddenly liberated by this dreadful act of ‘austerity’ from the state’s vast and profligate commissariat – and so give a gainful, market-directed, mutually-enriching, carefully-husbanded, private employment to them in place of the gross misuse to which they were previously subjected by an intemperate and illiberal Leviathan?

Finally, given that, this way, we will each end up doing more for ourselves, with greater efficiency, and with far more personal sway over our choices than otherwise would have been the case, might we not only have more to spend on other things, once the necessities of life have been seen to, but be a good deal happier about the whole arrangement, to boot?

In sum, if ‘austerity’ now means a short, recuperative spell in purgatory, the quicker to attain the Promised Land beyond, we cannot quit the present Road to Serfdom quickly enough, no matter what blandishments Mr. Wolf and his intellectual kith promise will be offered to the unheeding traveller if he will only continue to trudge upon its wearisome paving – an ill-fitting stonework uniquely comprised of Good Intentions.

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  • 261 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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