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A democracy or a managed society?

Summary:
Polly Toynbee is most indignant over the attitudes of we British. Apparently we don’t care about the things that she does. Inequality isn’t something most care about all that much. Higher taxation to pay for more government isn’t something most agree with. At which point she says:This research shows that enthusing the public with a strong enough will to significantly reduce inequality requires exceptionally clever efforts of persuasion.Well, yeeees.This brings up the important question. Are we to be a democracy - in which the people get what they vote for, good and hard - or are we to be a managed society? Managed, cajoled, persuaded, forced, into doing what some few think we ought to be doing rather than what we, ourselves, think we should? We ourselves don’t worry very much about

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Polly Toynbee is most indignant over the attitudes of we British. Apparently we don’t care about the things that she does. Inequality isn’t something most care about all that much. Higher taxation to pay for more government isn’t something most agree with. At which point she says:

This research shows that enthusing the public with a strong enough will to significantly reduce inequality requires exceptionally clever efforts of persuasion.

Well, yeeees.

This brings up the important question. Are we to be a democracy - in which the people get what they vote for, good and hard - or are we to be a managed society? Managed, cajoled, persuaded, forced, into doing what some few think we ought to be doing rather than what we, ourselves, think we should?

We ourselves don’t worry very much about inequality while we do think that poverty itself should be anathematised. This is why we support that free market capitalism - in all it’s neoliberal globalisation - stuff precisely because it significantly reduces poverty while having ambivalent effects upon within nation inequality. We don’t do this because that’s the outcome the British largely seem to want, as Polly complains about, but because we think it’s right.

However, put aside that connection between our desires and those of the people. This really is the big question - whose vision of society should prevail? That of the society or that of those who would manage it?

We go with the idea that governance should be about our concerns, not those people would like to impose upon us. The final structure of the society is then emergent. But then as is obvious we’re not Polly Toynbee nor are we at The Guardian.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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