Theresa May, our new Prime Minister, has decided to accompany her opening few days in office with the Ed Miliband-esque slogan of a system that "works for everyone, not just the privileged few". Her doubters are already asserting that these are empty promises and that the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, is the only one who really cares about fulfilling such a promise.
Those making such assertions are quite right that Theresa May is making empty promises, but they are wrong in their belief that Jeremy Corbyn cares about fulfilling such a promise. The reality is, Corbyn's policies are a lot further from offering something that "works for everyone, not just the privileged few" than those of Theresa May, it's just that you have to understand the process behind why this is the case. I'll explain.
I am a libertarian because I care about the poorest people in the world - and because I understand that trade and competition (either in a distal or in a proximal sense) are the main drivers of increased prosperity and well-being in the world. Everything else to which you might ascribe progress - government programs, welfare, aid, charity - are such because of the trade and competition going on (it's because of money earned from trade that government programs, welfare, aid and charity can be funded at all).
Conversely, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters are socialists because they don’t understand that trade and competition are the main drivers of increased prosperity and well-being in the world. Socialists, whether knowingly or unknowingly, promote ideas that are inimical to the system that “works for everyone, not just the privileged few", because the policies of the socialists are policies that stifle trade and competition.
With their demands to protect domestic industries at the expense of foreign ones, to pay people above the marginal value of their labour, and to disincentivise entrepreneurial enterprises by uncompetitive levels of taxation, they favour a system that works for the privileged few (that is, a large proportion of the world privileged enough to be born in a rich place like the UK) and works against the poorest people in the world. Corbyn and his supporters proudly advocate systems of control that ensure those already winning in the global lottery of life win some more, while those already losing lose even more.
But it goes even deeper than that, because trade works for everyone who partakes in it, so not only would poor foreigners lose out thanks to Corbyn’s policies, a large proportion of fellow Brits would lose out too. When British solar panel manufacturers lose their £25 an hour jobs so that solar panels can be manufactured for £15 an hour abroad, the losers are the Brits whose wages have fallen, but the winners are all the other Brits who can now afford solar panels, and all the workers abroad who can now earn a living producing solar panels.
What's astounding is that when exactly the same logic of the trade off occurs in most other contexts, no one has any trouble with it. When Frank plays ten pin bowling with Dave instead of going to play snooker with Fred, both Fred and the owner of the snooker hall lose out. But everyone understands that trade off. When Lisa chooses to marry Pete because she thinks he'll be a better husband than Jim, everyone understands that trade off as well.
But when it is pointed out that trading with more efficient foreigners at the expense of less efficient British firms is a good thing to do, a large swathe of the population forget everything they understand about trade offs and instead declare their support for a man who wants to make us worse off and artificially interfere in this process on the basis of a misguided, insular Anglocentricity.
For those who still don't get it, I've prepared a little rationality test to examine your consistency.
1) When the polio vaccine was developed and sold over 50 years ago, the beneficiaries were everyone involved in the pharmaceutical industry that got to produce polio vaccines, and most importantly everyone who was saved from the risk of disability or death from polio. As a result of the success of the polio vaccine, there were far fewer crutches, wheel chairs, and iron-lung machines sold to polio victims. The development of polio came at a cost to everyone who made money from supplying medical aids to polio victims, but it benefited everyone else.
2) When solar panels were manufactured abroad at a more competitive rate than in the
, the beneficiaries were everyone
abroad who can now sell their solar panels and everyone at home who can now
afford them. As a result of the success of foreign solar panels, there were
fewer of them being produced in the UK . The development of foreign
solar panels came at a cost to all the suppliers who made money from providing
them less efficiently, but it benefited everyone else. UK
If you can see that both those scenarios amount to a considerable net benefit for human beings - fine, you are thinking clearly. If you cannot see that both those scenarios amount to a considerable net benefit for human beings, you either have a funny take on the world, or you have some brushing up to do.
I can, however, see absolutely no grounds on which someone could argue that scenario 1 brings about a considerable net benefit for human beings but scenario 2 does not, because they are both self-evidently scenarios in which humans are easily seen to be better off.
Alas, Corbynomics, with its favouritism towards artificially supplementing
industries at the expense of
foreign ones takes this very position - both he and his supporters would have
no trouble seeing that scenario 1 is considerable net benefit for human beings,
but they act as though scenario 2 should be treated differently. UK
This leads me to conclude that they are either too ill-informed to see how alike the two above scenarios are in terms of general human improvement, or that in actual fact they know how alike those scenarios are but yet they ignore that fact because they know that going against this wisdom and favouring UK industries gets them popularity and votes.
Whichever is the case, foolishness or cunningness, it is preposterous of them to try to take the moral high ground over Theresa May and her party - because not a single one of them seems to care about the letter of the statement a system "that works for everyone, not just the privileged few".
Libertarianism has the only genuine regard for a system that works for everyone, because it cares about all the people in the world, it understands that trade and competition are the main determiners of what works for human beings, and it is unbound by geographical borders and nationalistic preferences.