Wednesday 23 July 2003

A tale of two cultures

Last night I started to read Adventure Capital, the story of a round-the-world journey made by the American investor, Jim Rogers.

Arriving in China, Jim writes:

Driving through China, we would see people constantly working the fields, and they would be working from dawn to dusk, literally. Indeed, they worked beyond dusk. We saw road builders labouring under floodlights, and there were always as many women working as men. We never saw anybody sitting around chitchatting. The Chinese do not take siestas. You will see some old men - really old men- sitting quietly drinking tea, with their caged pet birds keeping them company, but other than that you will not see people lounging around, looking out windows.
I imagine that some of you may be thinking that the Chinese work such long hours because they need every penny to survive. But what about this:
I have pointed out how the Chinese work from dawn to dusk. But not only do they work hard, they also save and invest over 30 percent of their income. We in America save about 1 percent of our income. It is because the Chinese work so hard and save so much of what they earn that their economy is growing faster than ours.
Rogers also notes that savings in China are not taxed unlike in the US or indeed the UK.

Let's turn now to Scotland, renowned as the land of the Presbyterian work ethic. Surely here we will see some similarity to China. Look at today's Daily Record:

OAPS flooded helplines yesterday as our campaign to get them to claim millions of pounds in state benefits kicked off in style.

The Record yesterday revealed how almost 60,000 Scots pensioners are missing out on £70million a year in unclaimed payouts.

Now OAP helplines and the Department of Work and Pensions have been inundated with calls from people wanting to claim cash.

And Pensions Minister Malcolm Wicks has thrown his weight behind the campaign, urging elderly people to apply for the money.

Mr Wicks says that the pensioners are entitled to the money. Well, maybe some of them are, but what about the millions of other welfare beneficiaries, including all state employees? What about the huge administrative slice taken out of the wages of private sector employees who are forced to contribute to state "welfare" schemes? The Labour regime and its press allies in the Daily Record focus on redistribution and spending, not production and investment. The Chinese have recognised that western-style welfare states do not lead to prosperity: that's why they work hard and save 30 percent of their incomes. I can't quite see a Chinese newspaper running a major campaign to persuade people to take up welfare "rights". It's more likely that they would report on the rather interesting fact that half of the world's construction cranes are operating in their country. Sometimes it seems as though half of the world's welfare advocates live in this country.