For a while I would read the blog of Malcolm Harbrow, aka Idiot Savant, aka No Right Turn, if only because it would provide some useful coverage of Parliament, and it is helpful to know what the hard left is thinking. It's hardly surprising that I mostly disagree with him, except when it comes to individual liberties where he can often be right - and will call out politicians of all ranks on that, and bureaucracies as well.
After all he thinks that children are the responsibility of everyone, through the state. He'd only be happy if the welfare state expanded, was more generous with less limits on eligibility. After all, tightening up eligibility for the invalids benefit is seen as "sadism" by him. He considers Ayn Rand and objectivism to be a "cult". He thinks people are only free if they don't have to provide for themselves and can choose whatever they want to do with their time.
Such a disjoint with reality indicates a fair degree of foolishness. If everyone was "free" to do this, then everyone would starve, freeze and die rather fast. In order for anyone to have this "freedom" to "do whatever you like" literally, someone else has to be forced to provide for that person, or to choose to sacrifice oneself for that person. It's quite absurd, but then I've come to the view that Idiot Savant is indeed absurd himself. He is a great example of the fundamental disconnection between reality, principle and morality that the hard left carries with it. See I am fairly generous about most people across the political spectrum. I think they genuinely do believe they want the best for humanity, in general. The key debate is the means of getting there, and the priorities in doing so. However, there is a more fundamental belief around rights, and the relationship of the individual to the state. Statists believe individuals are a means to an end, individualists believe they are ends in themselves.
Idiot Savant doesn't believe those on the right or those who believe in less state want people to be better off, he actually believes that those opposite him on the spectrum are sociopaths. Because he advocates using the state to force some groups to be better off, he thinks everyone wanting to shrink the state want the rich to be better off and the poor to suffer and die. The idea that people who believe in less government actually want better outcomes for all is ridiculous to him, because he can't conceive of how you do that without Marxist redistribution and regulation policies.
The simplistic position he takes is that those who believe that the state should take from those better off and pay those worse off, are morally good. Those who want to force people to give people jobs, keep them in jobs, allow them to work less for more money, and to ban people from choosing to work more for less money in competition, are morally good. A big warm cuddly state that exists to facilitate such transfers of money from "rich to poor", to provide state monopoly services paying its employees generously, not expecting them to be accountable for performance and having safe jobs for life, and which ruthlessly restricts businesses or entrepreneurship when it threatens to undermine state monopolies, existing employment or punitive taxes, is his dream.
He stands for unionised labour closed shops. He is willing to use shonky surveys developed by private companies seeking to promote their services if it supports his point of view. He touts tired old leftwing cliches about privatisation which have been proven to be false, whilst supporting implicit subsidies of the coal, dairy and timber industries. He manufactures a story about protests in London that he never witnessed, and which even the media he uses doesn't support. He likes to give the impression that he is authoritative, like a journalist, and does his research. Well patently he doesn't. He is an angry bigoted little man, whose view of his political opponents has become so bitter he may as well paint them all as fascists or caricatures of Montgomery Burns.
Take his recent celebration of Nick Smith's resignation (which was entirely justifiable). He can't just stick to that, he has to say "climate change denial and destroying the environment are tribal shibboleths of the right, and so these portfolios will almost certainly go to someone with no commitment to them." Tribal shibboleths? Does he really think those on the right want to destroy the environment? Is it true that everytime National gets in power that it lets rip with pollution and destruction of habitats? Is this what the hard left tell themselves - that they are the great saviours of the planet? His comment on the UK's budget speaks volumes too about his inane grasp on reality. It's one thing to slate tax cuts for those on highest incomes, as par for the course for Marxists. However, he manufactures a claim that benefits are being slashed for the unemployed, disabled and the sick. It's simply not true (the kernel behind this is tightening up eligibility for disability benefits because of the hoards who remain on it, even though they may be as mobile as many others). He claims it is cutting the NHS, when funding for the NHS is growing (even a leftwing website bemoans at how low the increases are). He of course, like any Gramscian Marxist ignores the increase in the income tax free threshold for the very poor - he can't compute, accept or spread the fact that the evil child eating Conservatives might cut taxes for the poor. That interferes with his bigotry.
However, the post which really caught my attention was his rant about austerity in the Eurozone. He said: But there's little doubt that these cuts will lead to tens of thousands of deaths in each country. And every one of those deaths can be laid at the feet of the foreign bankers demanding their pound of flesh. What they are doing to Greece and Portugal constitutes mass-murder on a vast scale. And they need to be held to account for it. He basically believes that cuts in health spending in Portugal and Greece are resulting in people dying citing a Guardian article.
Let's assume that there is evidence of this, it is curious who he blames.
Does he blame the politicians in those countries, who spent other people's money and borrowed more money than they could pay back to buy goods, services, infrastructure, welfare for those people? No. They would be socialists. They meant well. Even the Greek politicians who deliberately lied about the public finances.
Does he blame the voters who elected the politicians who spent the borrowed money that couldn't be paid back, and who ostensibly benefited from the excess spending? No. Suddenly the commitment to democracy and politicians acting on behalf of the people, even in countries with proportional voting systems, evaporates.
Does he blame the citizens the countries whose taxes are funding the bailout of these countries? The taxpayers of Germany, the UK, France, the Netherlands etc who have helpd finance this? No. They are irrelevant to him.
No he blames his bogeymen, his scapegoat, his hated minority, the "foreign bankers". The same "foreign bankers" who wrote off 79% of the debt owed by Greece to them (quite rightly so). Except of course, he's avoiding the point.
You see the austerity in Greece and Portugal is NOT about paying off bankers. It's about stopping those countries from continuing to borrow more. They are both still in deficit, the amount the government spends in both countries is more than they receive in tax. If his philosophy was applied, presumably taxes would shoot up in both countries (and they have to some extent).
This little man in Palmerston North is venting his ranting spleen against foreign (note how xenophobia is good if you have Marxist motives) bankers. He wants them to pay, and I doubt he means not using force. See it's all very well caring about civil liberties, until you want to extract a pound of flesh yourself from your favourite scapegoat.
Bankers should just lend Greece and Portugal as much as those governments want, and not expect any of it back right? Indeed they should be charities, right Malcolm? Should the countries abandon the Euro and print their worthless new currencies endlessly until they can pay for it all?
Let me be crystal clear, so that even an Idiot can understand.
Austerity means living within your means.
Both Greece and Portugal are unable to borrow internationally to fund overspending, so they are getting taxpayers' money from other Eurozone countries, and IMF member states, to cover their current overspending. Money taken from people and businesses. The austerity measures they are required to undertake to meet this are to bring their budgets into balance. Something he once appreciated, when it was a government he preferred spending a surplus.
If people in Greece and Portugal die because of reduced health care, it is because they can't afford it. They are unwilling to pay directly or pay additional taxes to pay for it. They are also unwilling to vote for politicians who will force some to pay additional taxes to pay for it.
Don't expect your health care to be paid for by money borrowed by politicians from people who don't believe you're willing to pay it off - because they have good reason not to lend it to those politicians who have now forced them to write off a good chunk of past bad loans.
However, Malcolm can help those people. He could donate money from his own pocket to save the infants of Greece and Portugal. He could arrange others to donate as well. He could actually do some good. However, if he has any charitable aspirations or interests, he really ought to say, because by and large his key interest appears to be in forcing others to pay more for state bureaucrats to help people - which isn't exactly philanthropic in deed or spirit.