Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Nurture the strong, Part I

It is not by chance or out of a desire to promote selfishness that safety instructions on aircraft tell us we should put our oxygen masks on first before helping others. The instruction is a simple matter of practicalities, if you can breathe you will find it easier to do what you can to help those in difficulties. One consequence of the instruction, in extreme circumstances, is that delay in putting on your own mask could lead to the death of someone unable to put on their own. But that is very unlikely to happen, overall more good will be done by the strong ensuring their own safety first rather than risking both themselves and the vulnerable by seeking to be unduly altruistic.

As in aircraft, so in life. In order to help those unable to help themselves it is necessary for the able to be keep themselves fit. Sometimes that means physically fit, perhaps more often in the modern world it means financially fit. There is no money to pay benefits unless profits are made from which tax can be raised. Damage healthy businesses and you not only take money out of the pockets of those owning and employed by those businesses you also reduce the tax they pay and, therefore, the resources available for supposedly beneficial government work. This very simple point is beyond the understanding of the political left. Although they never acknowledge it, at the heart of their philosophy is the concept that it is better for everyone to have nothing than for some to have nothing and others to have something. That is what lies behind their pathetic assertions that Thatcherism encouraged selfishness and greed. They smile smugly while quoting those famous words "there is no such thing as society". Anyone who bothers to read the interview Mrs Thatcher gave to Woman's Own magazine in 1987 will see that she made a point with which no rational person could disagree. There is no creature called "Mr Society" with his own bank balance and limitless resources. It takes people to take action to help others in need. "Society" can't dive into a river and save someone from drowning, only a person can do that. "Society" can't pay for medicines, education and operations, only the money earned by people can do so. That is the point she was making - look to what you can do, don't rely on others in the belief some great green blob of goo in the corner with the label "I am society" round its neck will magically spring into action. Do what you can do, look after yourself and that way you have the capacity to look after others either directly through your own works or indirectly by paying tax to pay for services they need.

I never once heard Mrs Thatcher say we should be greedy and selfish. Many times I heard her say we (individually and as a country) should achieve as much as we can for ourselves in order that we are not a burden on others and that we have the resources to help those in difficulties. For those who believe no one succeeds without squashing someone else underfoot, that message is meaningless. They believe I can only become £100 wealthier by taking £100 from someone else, the concept of the creation of new wealth is beyond their imaginations. In the real world we know otherwise.

Of course, the strong will not help the weak if they feel no need to do so. All sorts of factors contribute to that feeling of obligation. Often it is referred to as a moral duty, something that should be done because the common standards of decency we have developed over many generations recognise it as the right thing to do. There is no need for the law to step in and force people to do it if they feel they should do it anyway. Yet we do not feel the need to sacrifice ourselves endlessly for every cause, we have to choose. The more remote or trivial the problem the less strongly that moral duty operates. At the same time we also weigh in the balance what it would cost us in time or money to help and reach a value judgment about whether we care enough about the problem to go to the amount of trouble required to help. If Aids charities working in Africa asked for donations of at least £100 they would almost certainly receive less in total than if they ask for £2 because we won't really miss £2 whereas £100 is a jolly good evening at Madame Fifi's Sauna and Hanky Panky Parlour. Some of us would never give a penny to a charity caring for animals while others would rank such a cause above the relief of human misery. We all have to form our own view and act according to it. Human character being as diverse as it is, the range of views different people hold means there are plenty enough to look after addled donkeys without the need to close soup kitchens.

The one essential prerequisite to being able to help others is possession of the resources to do so. The choice whether to do so simply does not arise if giving assistance is beyond your physical, mental or financial capacity.


Art Pepper said...

Mr TFB, an interesting post as usual. McBroon's pirate crew really do believe that capitalism is zero/sum.

O/T would you mind revealing what brand of e-cigarette you successfully bar and restaurant tested? I require some nicotine nurturing.


james1071 said...


Is this an argument to reduce the Legal Aid budget?


TheFatBigot said...

I've had a look at both the box and the instruction leaflet, Dr Pepper, but there is no indication of the identity of the manufacturer. The item itself is described on the box simply as "E-Cigarette", although a sticker on the box says "Model No: 29-35"". Presumably it is a mass produced Chinese product.

It might help that it came in a box containing 2 e-ciggies, a charger and 10 cartridges.

Art Pepper said...

Thank you Mr TFB, I shall sleuth further on the internet. AP

Anonymous said...

Madame Fifi's Sauna and Hanky Panky Parlour!!!!just how much pocket money do you receive each week?