Wednesday 6 August 2003

The state is not your friend

Andrew Duffin has drawn my attention to two news items:

(1) In yesterday's Scotsman Gavin Esler pontificates about Africa:

And so, 50 years after de-colonisation began, Africa is a continent of biblical misery. The root cause is human incompetence rather than acts of God or the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The famines in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe are largely the creation of men. The destruction of the Congo, of Sierra Leone and Liberia, were all fuelled by greed for diamonds and other resources. Those of us on the outside see Africa as the face of a starving child, an AIDS mother or a drug-addled teenage thug with a Kalashnikov.

For us, too, there is a simple, almost biblical choice. We can pass by, shrug our shoulders and say that Africa is hopeless. Or we can do what we can. I suggest that despite the air of hopelessness, we have no choice but to do what we can.

Africa's problems are "the creation of men" but not in the way Esler thinks. As Andrew Duffin says: "let the State try to fix things, and the problem just gets worse". Helping Africa doesn't require more Western intervention but rather the sweeping away of trade restrictions that stop us from buying African products. The International Society for Individual Liberty does an excellent job - using private money - to educate people in Africa and elsewhere on the benefits of liberty.

(2) Meanwhile, back in Scotland the takeaway police are in action again:

The authority, which abandoned licenses for late-night catering in 1998, is to back the return of the policy today. If put into effect, it would mean all takeaways closing at 12.30am. At present, premises can open as late as they wish.
If only Africa had all these busybodies: think how well off everyone would be.