James Delingpole is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who is right about everything. He is the author of numerous fantastically entertaining books, including his most recent work Watermelons: How the Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children's Future, also available in the US, and in Australia as Killing the Earth to Save It. His website is www.jamesdelingpole.com. 497 Comments Comment on this article
Who are the most unpleasant people on the internet? Obviously with so much competition, it is, to paraphrase Dr Johnson, like arguing the toss between lice and fleas. Nonetheless, after the recent experiences of critic and author Philip Hensher – which I describe in more detail here – I’d suggest that disability rights activists are a strong contender.
Hensher wrote a piece suggesting – not unreasonably given the state of our shrinking economy and the size of our debt – that maybe 2.4 cent of GDP is a bit much for Britain to spend on disability benefits (US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain all spend less) and that maybe not all these recipients of taxpayers' largesse were quite as deserving as others.
For expressing this mildly argued and not-exactly-extreme viewpoint Hensher was vilified, threatened with death and all but hounded off the internet by a shrill mob of self-appointed disability rights activists. I doubt they speak for the majority in Britain; I doubt they even speak for the majority of the disabled, most of whom I'm sure are properly appalled that money which could go to the genuinely needy is instead being hijacked by scroungers and fakes. Yet whose voice is it which emerges most loudly and stridently from this ugly affair? The voice of that small, but very vocal and aggressive minority, that's who.
This doesn't just apply to disability rights, of course. It applies to almost everything in the political domain. Pick any issue – the environment, education, healthcare, the economy… – and time and again you'll find the agenda has been successfully hijacked by a handful of zealots who are not remotely representative of the broader public interest. Why? Because politicians will do almost anything for a quiet life and find it much easier to buy off noisy troublemakers by capitulating to their demands, however unreasonable, than to take a principled stand.
Also, of course, it's much, much easier for a lobby group to make a powerful, emotive case for more government spending on its favourite deserving cause than it is for the government to explain why it can't afford it.
For those of us who believe in liberty, free markets and small government this represents the greatest challenge of our time: how to make the case for rolling back the state sufficiently compelling for it to be able to trump the arguments of the various empty vessels from Owen Jones to Polly Toynbee to the various fascistic activist thugs on Twitter hell bent on expanding the state.
On my desk next to me I have what ought to be the perfect remedy: a report by Dr Tim Morgan, Global Head of Research at Tullett Prebon, which patiently sets out just how big a mess we're in.
The last three decades, he notes, "have witnessed the creation and the bursting of the biggest bubble in financial history". Put very simply, we in the West have been living way beyond our means. And payback time is long overdue.
The chances are – if ever we were shown the true figures rather than government-doctored ones – we'd realise to our horror that we've experienced no meaningful economic growth since the 1990s. Instead, we've used those low interest rates David Cameron keeps boasting about to expand our national debt to unprecedented levels.
Between 2001-02 and 2009-10, for example, Britain added £5.40 of private and public debt for each £1 of 'growth' in GDP. Between 1998 and 2012, real GDP increased by just £338 bn (30 per cent) whilst debt soared by £1,133 bn (95 per cent).
In the US, at constant (2011) values, consumption increased by $6,500 bn between 1981 and 2011 whilst consumption on Americans' behalf by their government rose by a further $1700. And by how much did the combined output of the manufacturing, construction, agricultural and extractive industries grow in that same period? By a miserly $600 bn. No wonder, then, that in that period American indebtedness soared from $11 trillion to almost $54 trillion.
At the moment, bizarrely and shamefully, about the only people talking about this stuff are Austrian-leaning economists, free market think-tanks and the odd maverick MP such as Douglas Carswell. Yet of all the political issues of our time, it's the one that is going to affect more of us, more severely than any other. And I don't know about you lot, but I've had just about enough of this apathy, ignorance, purblind denialism and culpable dishonesty.
All those environmentalists, for example, telling us that they're acting in the interests of future generations. No they're not – and it's time we stopped letting them get away with pretending otherwise. Every new economy-sapping tax or regulation they introduce, every acre of rainforest or farmland they divert to biofuels, every percentage point of extra cost they add needlessly to the price of energy in their pointless quest for renewables, is like a boot in the face of our children and grandchildren. "No you can't have a job. No you can't have as high a standard of living as recent generations. Yes you will have to endure an era of low growth, increased government meddling in your life, and – quite likely – a period of riots, hyperinflation, possibly even war."
The same applies to all the usual anti-freedom, anti-growth, anti-Western-civilisation suspects – the Occupy crowd who seem to think the solution is more of the government intervention that got us into this mess in the first place; the students whining for more free money to fund their mostly worthless degrees; the safety Nazis clamouring for the government to blow more of our tax dollars trying to abolish the natural frailty of the human form. And yes, it applies very much to those vicious, embittered, self-righteous disability rights activists who hounded Philip Hensher for speaking no more than truth.
It's time we lovers of liberty stood up to the fascist bullies who would steal our livelihoods, our freedoms and our right to self determination and self expression. You with me, people? You too, Philip?