Theodore Dalrylmple is spot on about the ‘big society’ in today’s Daily Express:
THE Big Society is a bad name for a sensible idea: namely that citizens should not rely upon the State and its bureaucracies for their own welfare. Instead, they should form voluntary associations to look after both themselves and others…
He points to two big problems with the ‘cradle-to-grave’ state:
The problem with the State taking care of everything is twofold. First it tends to destroy our character, something that can be observed every day. Our faculties such as prudence and planning for unpleasant eventualities are lost if they are not exercised, a trend surely borne out by the fact that we as a nation save nothing and borrow much.
The second problem is that the State isn’t very good at what it does. How many of us find that, if we can afford it, we are willing to pay privately for services that are supposed to be provided by the State, such as education and dentistry? People pay twice over, first in taxes, then as fees – and the taxes drive up the fees.
Finally, he highlights how the state promotes atomization in society:
And there is another way in which handing over everything to the State hardens our hearts: we come to believe that, having paid our taxes, we have paid our dues to society. When we have spent half of our time, nearly, in working for the State (as we do even if we are employed in the private sector), we do not feel much inclined to perform social service afterwards, even for those close to us. Where the State takes care of us all, we become separated from one another…
In the name of social solidarity we have turned ourselves into a lonely crowd.
You can read the whole thing here. Incidentally, Dalrymple also has a new book out at the moment: Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality. You can buy it from Amazon here.