The big picture


In Britain, all eyes might be focused on election bargaining and in the US on issues such as Obamacare and the Value Added Tax, and of course we all have the financial sector and government borrowing problems to think about. But look more widely, and you see that the world is actually going in the right direction. Indeed, the Right direction. I'm not just referring to how India and China, by adopting market principles at long last, have managed to raise around 2 billion of the world's population out of poverty in just the last fifteen years. I'm looking at the future too.

Technology, for example, is a great liberator. People worry about the surveillance and database state, but technology has freed us. And because it's all designed by geeks and nerds who hate government, we can be pretty sure they will find ways round nanny.

Science has also given us a better understanding of human differences – and how deep, widespread and minute they can be. The idea that human outcomes would become equal, if only the world was made 'fair', is exploded. We know that people are unique individuals. We need to treat them as such. Not something that comes naturally to the Left.

If there's an issue, it is how to give our lives value in an age of plenty. For most of our history, staying alive has given life meaning enough. Today, though, what gives us satisfaction? Even greater wealth? Hardly. Our vocation, in our family and our community are where we are likely to find most satisfaction.

But these are things that politicians invariably mess up when they interfere. Right now, there is a debate over whether the state should 'support the traditional family', and there have been many studies (and decades of bitter experience) showing how important stable families are in terms of creating a functioning society, and how destructive it is when large numbers of kids grow up in dysfunctional families with serial relationships and no fathers. You might think that this social cost justifies the state telling us – or 'nudging us' – into living in a certain way. But if it does, it will surely produce the opposite of what it intends. No, the state should simply be butting out, and not actually encouraging a culture that we now know is destructive by trying to save us from the consequences of our own actions.