Prosperity and freedom

In: Uncategorized

1 Apr 2010

Since the focus of this blog is on prosperity it does not cover the equally important subject of freedom in any detail. However, the two are intimately related.

I was reminded of the connection when I read the comment by Andrew Simms, the policy director of the New Economics Foundation, on the chancellors’ television debate in the run-up to Britain’s next election. He said was not keen on any of the candidates from the three main parties. Instead he favoured Adair Turner, the chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), as he could be an “independent chancellor” representing a “new politics”.

I am not a fan of any of the politicians who took part in the chancellors’ debate but they all have one thing Turner lacks: a mandate from the electorate. Turner is an appointed bureaucrat while the others are all elected by their constituents.

As it happens I particularly dislike Turner as he is an archetype growth sceptic: a member of the elite who has frequently called on others to exercise restraint. He is a former head of the Confederation of British Industry, chair of the official Committee on Climate Change and now head of the FSA.

But my dislike for Turner’s outlook is not the key point. Even if I endorsed his view on prosperity the fact remains that he is an unelected technocrat.

Simms’ contemptuous attitude towards democracy is not a one-off.  The green outlook is inherently authoritarian.

The richer the world is the less basis there is for conflict over scarce resources. Therefore there is less incentive for one group to suppress another to protect its narrow sectional interests. Ultimately the goal is to abolish scarcity so there will be no material basis for any conflict.

In contrast the goal of greens is to maintain scarcity artificially by thwarting moves towards progress and prosperity. They want to monopolise the extensive use of resources for themselves.

This desire can even manifest itself as what could be called the ultimate obscenity: the romanticisation of the second world war. Many greens look back fondly on the war because it was a time of rationing and restraint. In other words they admire the austerity imposed on ordinary people. They seem not to realise that the gross carnage of the war – in effect the brutal suppression of freedom for a huge number of people – was part of the same process.

The growth sceptics are the enemies of freedom and well as prosperity.