Monday, 8 May 2017

Approaching Second Childhood

Lean and Slippered Panataloon

Youth, it is said, has all heart, but no head.  Generally, society at large tends to be rather indulgent when confronted with youthful passion, where fact-based reality is scarcer than hen's teeth.

It is another matter entirely when people who should know better come forth with similar "heart, sans head" pontifications.  In this case it was a  former Prime Minister of New Zealand--Jim Bolger.
Bolger says neo-liberal economic policies have absolutely failed. It's not uncommon to hear that now; even the IMF says so.  But to hear it from a former National Prime Minister who pursued privatisation, labour market deregulation, welfare cuts and tax reductions - well that's pretty interesting.

"They have failed to produce economic growth and what growth there has been has gone to the few at the top," Bolger says, not of his own policies specifically but of neoliberalism the world over.  He laments the levels of inequality and concludes "that model needs to change."  [Stuff]
Such sentiments are ironic, when the world is turning away from such truisms--and has been for decades now.  It is doubly ironic when, when millions upon millions of people are being lifted out of abject poverty--the kind New Zealanders have not seen in this country for many generations--in the non-Western world.  Neo-liberalism has played a vital role in bringing such about.

Now, of course, Mr Bolger would doubtless retort, that economic growth and development in the Third World has not been "quality growth" because it has led to increasing disparity of wealth.
 Millions remain in abject poverty, whilst those who have been able to participate in rapid industrialisation have seen huge rises in living standards in their lifetime.  But it's bad because not everyone has participated--yet.  Jim's prescription is to go back to the future.  He would have everyone benefit in exactly the same lock-step manner.  Central government planning and control over everything would inevitably be necessary to achieve that.

As is so often the case these days, the empty minded complain about the widening disparity of wealth in society.  This can only be offensive to one controlled by envy and covetousness.  What is offensive if a billionaire lives upon a hill in a swanky mansion, whilst the "poor family" have only managed to increase their net worth by a mere 10 percent over the past five years?  It can only be offensive to the mind racked with envy, to the one who believes that others should be brought down to my living standard.

Inequality is only an evil in the mind of the egalitarian.  And egalitarianism is an abstract ideal, favoured only amongst those wedded to a state-controlled economy, which is the only way egalitarianism could ever come to pass.  The myth of greater poverty in New Zealand is exposed when one points out that what Bolger is really focusing upon are the few uber wealthy.  What he has not considered is whether today's abject poor are far better off relative to their forbears.  It is the "level of inequality" that disturbs him, whatever that might mean.  Parse "level of inequality" if you would, please.

Youth we are told  is all heart and no head.  The mature--or grown-ups--have both head and heart.
Apparently some in dotage return to the simplistic world view of youth: all emotion and no head. Shakespeare called it the sixth age, just before second childhood.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Mr Bolger is acting as if his big manly voice is now a childish treble.  The "last scene of all" is all that now is left.

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