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September 23, 2004


You may find this hard to believe but I'm going to suggest that you should go and read a Guardian supported website. Well, OK, not that hard to believe as I refer people to them all the time in order to encourage derision and thus bring closer the day when we can all do the happy dance on the grave of idiotarianism. However, this is rather different, as I am seriously suggesting that these guys are onto a good thing, actually being both reasonable and responsible. Go and look at KickAAS. The basic idea is well outlined in this Guardian editorial. To put it all in a nutshell the best way of helping the Third World is to simply abolish all agricultural subsidies yesterday and allow free trade. Not fair trade, not managed trade, not trade with labour or environmental regulations, just the voluntary exchange of goods and services between willing participants.
I was alerted to this site by Victor Keegan who I wrote about here. I'd emailed him the link and he responded thusly:

Thanks - an interesting if surprising piece - though I would say the
process was more Darwinian than Hayekian.
I'm always fascinated by others' view of the Guardian. I don't see it as a
protagonist for centralism at all but then I've only been here 40 years.
You remind me of the reaction I got when I launched
Quite a lot of people said - what on earth is the leftist Guardian
espousing free trade for?
Answer we've always believed in a mixed economy and looking at problems
pragmatically (even if we don't always live up to it . . .) and, would
you believe it, the first editor of the Guardian was a founder member of
the free-market Anti-Corn Law League in the 1830s.
The omission of the sites was btw was entirely a space thing.

A number of thoughts on this, over and above the one about the web-site. I was aware of the connection between the Guardian and Cobden, not all that much of a surprise given the original title of The Manchester Guardian. It's nice to see that missing the blog's names had a reason other than what we're seeing in the US papers, a rather sniffy dismissal of the guys in living rooms in pyjamas. But what it really reminded me of was that my own political and economic views come from exactly the same source as those of the Guardian. I would happily describe myself as a Manchester Liberal (note, this is nnothing at all to do with the modern day Liberals or with US style liberals). A basic belief in free markets, almost a laissez faire attitude to the economy and society yet tempered by our moral duty to help those who are not able to help themselves.
Where I and the Guardian might part company is in the methods by which we should provide that help, my opposition to the writings of people like Polly and Georges Moonbat being based on one of two things: either they are wrong in their delineation of a problem or that their proposed solution will make things worse. I would agree, for example, with Ms Toynbee that the standards of living of the poor in the UK are too low, and that some way should be found to increase their level of both material and, dare I say it, spiritual, welfare. I simply happen to think that the growth provided by a free market economy would deal with the material aspects and getting the government and addlepated social workers out of their lives would deal with everything else.
Anyway, enough rambling about political stances. Go and look at the web-site and absorb the delicious wisdom about the benefits of simply abolishing all agricultural subsidies overnight, as New Zealand did. Yes, they're going on the blogroll and I think you should put them there as well.

September 23, 2004 in Economics | Permalink


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