" We believe our integrity and principles will be compromised if we stay. Myrna just doesn't believe that she is the inheritor of Locke, Smith, Ricardo and the Mills. And we were shocked, shocked to find she hadn't read “Anarchy, State and Utopia” of Robert Nozick, “Persons, Rights and the Moral Community” of Loren E. Lomasky or “Principles for a Free Society” by Richard A. Epstein."
OK, I made the last bit up. They were concerned about her work as a stripper, not her economic knowledge. But maybe some people do get a little pre-occupied with all the stuff about our party's historical roots and associated economic theories. I've got to confess that I haven't read any of those books either. Nor do I know much about Locke, Smith, Ricardo and the Mills. And I know more about Dean Friedman the singer-songwriter than I do about Milton Friedman the economist.
One of the good things about reading Lib Dem bloggery is that you are exposed to all sorts of material. This week I've enjoyed the item at Lib Dem Voice on "The Greatest British Liberal" - my choice would be William Beveridge:
And tonight I've struggled through the comments on John Dixon's interesting article, also at Lib Dem Voice, on classical liberalism.
Now, I generally let other Lib Dems debate the finer points of what 'Liberalism' actually means - I'm happier to get on with being a councillor and focussing on day-to-day matters. But I have felt I've learned a little reading through the article and the comments below it.
However I must respond to a comment below John Dixon's article which said:
A century of welfarism has surely shown us that that policy has not only not delivered in terms of poverty reduction and opportunity growth, but that it is costing ever huger amounts of money to perform it as a government function
And that's where I disagree. Strongly. Looking back at my own family experience , my father had to leave school in 1914 - at the age of 13- because although he had won a scholarship to Bristol Grammar School, his family were so poor he had to go to work. Four or five decades later, thanks to the likes of Lloyd George and Beveridge, there was a sufficent welfare state for me to get a good education (though not in economics!) - and a sufficent NHS to give me adequate health care when I needed it. It certainly gave me opportunity growth.
I'm content for other people to discuss the party's historical roots. But let's avoid worshipping capitalism. Let's remember that the pace of technological and climatic change over the next 20 or 30 years will probably affect the world more than the scholars of 200 years ago. And also remember that in Milton Friedman's last interview, he said that the greatest threat to the world economy was "Islamofascism, with terrorism as its weapon." He might even be right on that.