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Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Labour's life incompetents

Natalie Solent has a really great post about 'life incompetents': those who lack the basic skills and ability to get by in everyday life, ending with an anecdote I now cannot imagine not working into a speech at some stage. She puts the preponderence of such people down to the bulging, enveloping welfare state, and I cannot help but agree. I think it's reasonable to assert that the phenomenon she describes is relatively unique to recent decades. Try as I might, I cannot quite imagine Victorian or Georgian Britons being so unable to manage on their own.

My initial inclination as I read the post was to see modern problems like this - simple truths, especially moral truths, that some people no longer grasp - as an issue of low IQs plus the modish aversion to stating general truths when they are politically incorrect. Some people in all ages had low intelligence, but most could depend on simple guidance passed down through the generations, relieving them of the need to work out independently just how to live. In a climate of Do-It-Yourself morality and reluctance to say any form of behaviour is preferable to any other, this is not really the case. And even if every parent were to continue to pass on wisdom to their children, it's doubtful how much impact it would have when contradicted by so most of what can be seen in the media.

I've no doubt this does explain a lot of social problems, but I suspect Natalie's thinking captures the bigger picture here.

I remember noticing recently that nearly all taxi driver seem to be (a) immigrants or (b) old men. It didn't take long to work out why: for those growing up in Britain today, the difference between the income of a taxi driver and the ever-generous income of those living on benefits, with all the free time to indulge various criminal schemes that this offers, is simply too small to tempt those who have been brought up in the culture of modern Britain.

If you're of mushy-headed liberal inclinations, you'll immediately read this as proof we need mass immigration to keep plenty of people doing the jobs "our own people won't do". I rather prefer the implicit Solent solution of undercutting the welfare monster that makes such lifestyles sustainable, if only for as long as most of us are still mugs enough to go to work and pay taxes. Then we might be amazed to find plenty of our own people jolly well will do these jobs.

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