Monday, 10 December 2012

The State isn't working

If you still think State spending is the best way to solve any problem, look at this snippet from my MP Steve Baker:
Last time I divided the social security budget (£207bn) by the number of people in poverty (13m), the figure of almost £16,000 was higher than the income of over half the population.
So why are they still poor?  Simple - because the £207,000,000,000 of spending is mainly used to increase the income of middle-class Guardian-reading State workers who work tirelessly to alleviate poverty.  The one form of poverty alleviation they will not suggest, though, is to stop spending so much money on eye-catching poverty initiatives, cut taxes accordingly, and let the private sector grow and provide employment to the poor.

The same applies to third world aid.  According to the Carswell book, the West has spent over a trillion pounds on third world aid.  However, so far as I can tell, Africa still seems to be poor.  On any assessment, therefore, our aid hasn't worked.  As Carswell suggests, why not stop spending all that money and instead drop tariffs and trade barriers by a corresponding amount?  Because, of course, the aid budget is about keeping middle-class DfID staff in a salary, not about helping the poor.


  1. The same point was made for the U.S. many years ago in the excellent 'Parliament of Whores' by P.J. O'Rourke.
    He quotes a study that totalled up the earned income for all those classed as poor.
    It then calculated the total yearly income required for all those people to not be classed as as poor.
    The amount of government money required to eliminate poverty is the difference between the 2, right?
    The government was already spending 2 and a half times the difference on schemes supposedly reducing poverty.

  2. Exactly. As an intermediate stage we could simply divide half the £207bn budget equally between pensioners and the unemployed. Administering that could be done by an office of five, I reckon.

    Welfare is rapidly moving up the agenda at last after about fifty years of indiscriminate spending increases.

    Re Africa I am planning a trip to one of the poorest countries next year. I asked my mum (who has been there) whether cars were widespread or did most people get around by bus as in many developing countries I have already been to. "Oh, lots of people have cars" she said "but it's mostly the Europeans". I can't *imagine* what the Europeans are up to...

  3. Thanks Alex, I'll get hold of the PJ book and settle down with that sometime soon!

    BE - quite... but I suspect that if we proposed to sack all but five of the DWP staff and instantly double the income of the poor and the retired, we would be accused of "declaring war on the poor".

  4. The researchers looked into all the billions of $ in government welfare spending programs since 1960 and came to an incredible, unlikely conclusion.

    You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money. – P.J. O'Rourke.

    Its a fantastic book, Parliament of Whores. I still have my original copy. Never mind its 20 years out of date. All the themes have come round again.