When I speak at universities or seminars I am always conscious of the problem of people's personal experiences of life. Naturally they are all different and we therefore come to a problem from a different angle. Let me run a few things past you.
How can sixth formers grasp libertarianism ? Children have been brought up with the complete sponsorship of their parents, they foot the bills. At school the teachers are in charge, usually their only experience comes from books. If they are at a state school the impression will be only the state could conceivably provide this service, a state bus often transports the pupils back and forth.
The doctor 's services are apparently provided 'free'. There is no real interest in the modern child how the food manifested itself on the table, everything is magic. Years ago I took my nephew to a rugby game on the East India Club coach, drink flowed , lunch arrived, best seats in the house, tea and sandwiches post game, the usual magnificent club hospitality. No money changed hands of course it went on my account, my eleven year old nephew looked at me and said 'uncle ,this is amazing, and all free !'. Absolutely I said because I was a benevolent uncle ,no need to explain. But this is what politicians do to the electorate. We keep hearing the word 'free' but we all really know nothing is really free , unless you are second or third generation perpetual welfare dependent.
Undergraduates are not much better ,they still dwell in a highly protected environment. For they could not survive without external support. The strain now runs through society rich or poor. If you suggest to a farmer that subsidies for them are somehow unfair , why are not other sections of society subsidised, ie: why not the pig farmer or the butcher? They rarely argue or enter into debate, they simply don't understand your point. The same with the idiot woman with five children from different fathers, none of whom are now around, it is not her fault ,it is a trick of fate, where's my money?
So one's view of tax ,spending, government in general depends on your experience.
I started work in the wealth creating sector in 1967 , I worked ever since until entering public service at 55 in 2004. Even at school I had any number of weekend jobs to support my leisure time. That was the norm post war because there wasn't any money. I have pretty much paid my own way ever since, certainly the state has not put its hand into its pocket on my or my family's account very often.
I spent some time a few years ago working out how much I had paid in taxes, it came to over one million pounds, I am just a middle of the road professional man, so I am not alone. It begs the question 'what do they do with it all ?'. Add QE of £350 billion and run away borrowing we are looking for billions of pounds.
Yet no one is really talking about this. I caught a very old interview with historian Corelli Barnet a few days ago and he was talking of the 1930s British illusion, that the post Great War empire was still strong. It is my belief we are now repeating this illusion , not militarily but economically. That the £1.8 trillion national debt isn't really there.
That we can continue with the absurdity of things being 'free', that somehow no serious change is needed , just a gentle tweak on the tiller. Not a single party leader is explaining the enormity of the problem.
I tried to press my erstwhile party into an honest approach and was told honesty doesn't work on the doorstep. To reinforce it they selected a neo socialist tabloid journalist as economic spokesman. Might as well elect Crusty the clown (he still talks of radical tax reform as being either left or right wing ) Sadly they are probably right. The only requirement to vote in May is a residential and age qualification, if you think this is good and how democracy should be go and stand on Doncaster station of a Saturday and do a bit of people watching and be afraid, very afraid.
There is naturally, a social chasm 'twixt my generation and youngsters, not as great as the one between my generation and my father's, as there has been no war, but still not insignificant. There is an exception with public school educated young people where traditional values are still held and often Old Labour strongholds where there is still a work ethic and family values.
When I grew up in the '50s there was no immigration, very few murders, national service, strong school discipline, respect for the elderly, no serious drug culture, children out of wedlock were frowned upon, the NHS was run for the patients not the unions although everything else was run by the unions. Homosexuality was illegal (ridiculous) , now chaps can marry other chaps ( absurd) In the City your word was your bond, regulation was light, transgressors went into social exile, a terrible and much feared punishment. At Twickenham no one booed the opposition kicker, we remained quiet for the Haka , if there was an injury the opposition captain went to check it out, it was not an opportunity to give a pep talk. At half time you stayed on the pitch sucked an orange and got on with it, those who started the game finished it. Policemen were the friend of the law abiding citizen, not yobs in uniform festooned with radar guns and tasers and an hostile attitude . Juries were house holders over 21 , not anyone dredged up because they are over 18. Adults were figures of authority to children and their protectors, you gave your seat up for ladies on the train and a gentleman regarded them as under their protection if they were alone. In other words I originated from a different planet to the young people of today.
Moreover, children are not taught to think, they are taught to box tick their way through a government syllabus. If you wanted to start a business you just did ,have you tried to start a business recently? 'Elf & Safety' fascists crawl all over you. How could they conceive a style of say, Bastiat , where the key is understanding solutions usually the unseen , imagining what health and education could be if the state were taken away , most young people see only a void, not an exciting new opportunity.
In short the country did not need all the regulations and arrogant enforcers sponsored by that unholy alliance of politicians and big business who now rule our lives like East German secret police . All the surveys that have taken place in recent years show people were happier then, yet nobody had any money, TV was black and white even if you had one, telephones were Bakelite and there weren't many of those. Pubs were many and full, beer was cheap and if you fancied a smoke that was all right too.
Don't think I am for one moment suggesting it was perfect , because it wasn't, or anywhere near, but it was better and in my view because we were free by the standards of today.
How do I know? Because I am old enough to have lived through both and make a balanced judgement.