What is this “Big Society”?
Posted by evanescent on 14 February, 2011
Ok, so normally I’m cynical and suspicious of anything the government does, because I question its motives and actions, (justifiably so I might add!) But this “Big Society” plan of David Cameron’s has some pros, and a lot of cons. Funnily enough, the reason I’m less hostile about it than I normally would be isn’t so much because of what it says, but because of what its critics say!
Part of the plan is this “Big Society Bank” which is a big no-no: more governmental meddling in the economy, and encouraging banks and borrowers to take out loans they wouldn’t otherwise do in a free market, in other words: the same thing that got us into this economic mess in the first place!
But Cameron does say some good things: ‘The big society is about changing the way our country is run. No more of a government treating everyone like children …let’s treat adults like adults and give them more responsibility over their lives”.
Sounds good. Will this include giving me the option to choose between the debacle that is the NHS *or* my own private health insurance? Will it treat companies “like adults” in allowing them to set their own prices and reap the rewards or consequences of their business decisions? Will it treat parents “like adults” in choosing the right school and curriculum for their children?
I have my doubts about this Big Society despite the good things being said by Cameron because, at the end of the day, it’s still the State meddling in the personal affairs of individuals and trying to use government power and tax money to manipulate society into some politician’s dream. This is simply not the rightful use of government.
But, when so many socialists are opposed to it, I wonder if it can really be that bad!
“Writing for The Telegraph, Mary Riddell said ‘the sink or swim society is upon us, and woe betide the poor, the frail, the old, the sick and the dependent.’” Ah this old chestnut – the socialist’s final appeal to guilt as the excuse for totalitarianism. So if you’re able and hard-working and productive and independent – you have no claim on the property of others. But if you are none of these things, you magically gain such a claim.
“In The Times, ‘Cassandra’ wrote: ‘ It’s all very well to have the bright idea of the locals running their own bus route [...] The trouble is that running a bus route is a professional job, not for a group of local enthusiasts. How many bets that five years down the line, the enthusiasm has run out and there is no more bus route.’” Wow – I’m glad I’m not this cynical about the human race, or I might just take it upon myself to dictate to other people how to live their lives…like a socialist does. The sooner people stop thinking of actual property and services as necessary rights taken from granted, the sooner we can look for practical private alternatives.
“The national office of Unite the Union for the community and non-profit sector, suggested that “The ‘Big Society’ is smoke and mirrors for an avalanche of privatisation under the Tories”. Hang on, goods and services belonging to people and NOT the government?? Heresy!
And Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON says: “Public services must be based on the certainty that they are there when you need them, not when a volunteer can be found to help you.” Unfortunately, reality doesn’t bend to anyone’s “needs”. There can’t be a guarantee to things that must be produced and traded by others. There are no such things as “public” services – only services that the government controls and pays for using the money of people who don’t need them.
“Dr. Lorie Charlesworth, an academic from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, suggested that ‘any voluntary system for the relief of poverty is purely mythical.’” Once more with the humanity! What these anti-human cynics ignore is that people in this world already support millions of causes with their money, voluntarily! There is one “solution” to poverty that is truly mythical: charity. Charity is nothing more than hole-plugging. Look at the most prosperous countries in the world during their golden ages and compare them to the poorest countries during their darkest, and ask yourself WHERE wealth and quality of life comes from. I’ll give you a clue, the word is: CAPITAL*SM.
With Big Society, Cameron claims he wants to “take power away from politicians and give it to people.” What kind of power is he referring to? Political power is the government’s remit – rightly so. But the kind of power that “the people” need is economic power; the power over their own wealth and property – the power to reap their rewards and expand and grow as far as their minds will take them – and the responsibility to handle their own failures.
With so many socialists opposing Cameron’s scheme, I’m almost inclined to support it!
If you really want a prosperous productive country of respectful individuals, you don’t do it by trying to manufacture an artificial society by government fiat, but by identifying that all human reforms must start with the individual. Only an attitude of individualism and freedom will accomplish this. In such a culture, people will naturally trade with each other with mutual respect to mutual benefit. For this to happen, government needs to GET OUT of our affairs. Forget Big Society, let’s have Big Individualism.
Edited to add additional thoughts:
Another thing that strikes me is Cameron’s suggestion that volunteerism can take the place of public services. The choice is therefore between impractical profitless volunteer work and impractical tax-funded State work. There’s at least one other idea that isn’t considered by anyone: private profit-driven work. By removing government involvement in this area, we will be open to new and fresh ideas as to how private companies can offer services to people in a profitable way – which is the only practical longterm and sustainable way to do so. Here is just one excellent example of how a free market can profitably service the needs of others: http://www.freerice.com/
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