The line that divides

John Pagani’s latest blog entry on Stuff has hit the nail on the head in at least one respect.  In a piece entitled, “Can we bring jobs back to the heartland?” (in which ‘we’ actually means ‘the government’), he notes that, “one side of politics believes in hands-off government that sits on the sidelines and lets the markets decide the fate of small towns. The other side sees it as government’s role to get involved and try to make a difference.”
 
I think this is right on the money.  In particular the bit about “trying” to make a difference.  When confronted with a potential problem, Pagani and his Labour friends believe that government should use money it has acquired by force from one segment of the population to “try to make a difference” for another.  And if at first you don’t succeed….
 
This, they would have us believe, is the moral thing to do.  By “trying to make a difference” with other people’s money at no personal cost to themselves, we ought to recognise them as generous and caring.  So what if it doesn’t work, it’s the thought that counts, right?
 
Never mind that government interventions seldom work as intended.  Or that even if the intended outcome does come to pass it is usually accompanied by any number of unintended consequences, which are frequently more significant in the long run than the intended consequence.  But not to worry, there’s always more of other people’s money with which to “try to make a difference” to those new problems too, right?  And the more bureaucrats we hire to design, implement, manage, assess and re-design our attempts to make a difference, the less unemployment there’ll be.  It’s win win.  Unless you’re one of the other people funding the exercise. 
 
So, I am in complete agreement with Pagani.  Whether we allow individuals and communities to prosper on their own merits, or have them rely on an upward spiral of bureaucratic intervention to postpone difficult decisions about their futures: this is the fundamental dividing line between what we loosely refer to as the Left and Right in this country.

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