Monday, March 06, 2006

More Links ...

Well, one - Quentin Langley, who lectures in PR but who doesn't necessarily write like a stereotypical PR man.

What is it that characterises poverty in the west? We have seen that it is not a shortage of calories. Food is available at a wide range of prices. Nor is it a shortage of transport. Cars are available at many prices, and there is a flourishing second hand market. In some urban areas such as London and New York people choose not to have cars, because the roads are congested and there are alternative ways to travel. But that is not a symptom of poverty – rich people make that choice too. There are low cost airline tickets and cheap cell phones. Poor people have televisions and washing machines.

What is it that they don’t have? They don’t have good schools. They don’t have police protection. They don’t have decent housing. They don’t have proper healthcare. In fact, while they have everything that the private sector provides, they entirely lack the things that government has either taken over completely or seeks to provide to poor people.

The very things which governments seek to provide because otherwise the poor wouldn’t get them, are exactly the things that poor people don’t have. The things we leave to the market are provided, like food and airline tickets, at every possible price to suit rich and poor alike.

I'd agree up to a point - on schools and police protection. Not so sure on housing (I remember the neat, new, housing built for low income families in my last village, and the shattered wreck the first tenants has made of it by he time they were thrown out, a year and a long, expensive legal process later), or on healthcare. Ask any GP and they'll tell you the class which takes up most of their time. But maybe he DOES have a point - a private landlord wouldn't tolerate such a tenant, unless the government were paying him the housing benefit direct.

"So, yes, there is one thing the government could do to cure poverty. The government could stop causing it. It could start by pulling out of education, health, law and order, housing and pensions. That would be a start."

Hmmm - law and order ? Privatising that would break a cardinal rule of the economist P.J. O'Rourke.

"Never let the people with all the money and the people with all the guns be the same people".

UPDATE - and another - Dangerously Subversive Dad, the only man crosser than the Devils Kitchen.


Anonymous said...

Laban you're making a fundamental mistake, pulling the government out of law and order doersn't mean privatising it in the way you suggest.

Simply allowing and encouraging the law abiding to purchase weapons for use in defence of self and property would do much.


Anonymous said...


There are places where there are lots of guns and little gun crime (Canada, Switzerland), places with lots of guns and lots of gun crime (South Africa), places with hardly any (legal) guns and a fair bit of gun crime (UK), and perhaps other bits of the world with few legal guns and little crime that I just don't know about.

Anyway, point is, I think sensible gun use is very much a cultural thing. I don't know what share of drive-by shootings in urban US are the work of legally-owned firearms, but clearly widespread gun ownership is no deterrent to crime there. Whereas in Mark Steyn's part of New England, there are apparently lots of guns and no one bothers to lock their doors.

I can't help thinking that, culturally, more of Britain resembles East LA than upstate New Hampshire.