30 juni 2005

Tony Blair: right for the wrong reason (The Flemish Beerdrinker)

Tony Blair has the annoying habit not just of being right, but of being right for the wrong reasons. He was wrong for instance on invading Iraq because of WMD but he was right to change the regime anyway. The same goes with Europe’s agricultural policy. He is right that it - like most other subsidies - should be abolished:

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown turned up the moral pressure on European leaders to scrap the £33 billion-a-year Common Agricultural Policy yesterday by saying that over-generous subsidies paid to EU farmers were perpetuating mass poverty in Africa. As Britain’s prepares to take on the EU presidency tomorrow, and with the G8 summit at Gleneagles coming up next week, Mr Brown said developed countries could "no longer ignore" the "hypocrisy" of a regime that distorted world trade and held back Africa’s poorest nations.

But as Tim Worstall explains Blair is right again for the wrong reasons:

Unfortunately he’s still got the wrong end of the stick. As has been noted elsewhere (in a comment here by Jarndyce, for example) the export subsidies are in fact a subsidy from the European taxpayer to the non-farming sector of the countries that consume the goods. They are not an unalloyed evil...the total effect on the recipient countries depends upon whether the benefits to that urban population are greater than the disbenefits to the farming sector. As they are largely rural and even peasant farming societies this may well be true but it is an empirical question, not a moral one. There is a moral point to be made about CAP which is (that it) is bad for us. That 50 squillion (plus the further 100 odd squillion extracted in the form of higher prices) is the gang rape of the taxpayers by a small interest group, that 2-3% of the population of Europe that are farmers. We should simply stop it in the name of the 97 % that are not. There is a reason why such logic is not used by a social democratic politician. If one set of subsidies are viewed in such terms, discussed as bieng simply morally wrong, then what happens to all of the other such subsidies? Those to other favoured industries, occupations, companies and individuals? That there should be no such subsidies at all is obvious, but if we abolish them then what will politicians do if they don’t have sweeties to give out to those who support them? If by bribing being nice to politicians we get nothing back, why would anyone be nice to them?

Now i would already be happy if only the farm subsidies would be abolished, because they are the worst form of robbery we have at the moment. A kind of Dooh Nibor. (Tip: read it in reverse.) And if using moral arguments - provided they were honestly held - could do the trick, why not?

<<Oudere berichten     Nieuwere berichten>>