Generation Y going laissez-faire27 June 2013
For an outfit that is known for somewhat left-wing views, the Grauniad has an interesting article about how Generation Y are flocking to the Conservatives. Now being of Generation Y myself, while I am sceptical about this alleged new-found popularity of the Conservative party, but in terms of popularity of economic liberalism it is spot on.
The underlying question that Generation Y people like me are asking is where is the cash going. For instance between 1999 and 2010 the NHS had a real-terms per-capita spending increase of 91%, yet there are still hidden costs such as car parking charges, and some NHS trusts are even going bust. During the boom years of 2001-2006 per-capita welfare spending still went up 20% in real-terms, and a 68% increase in education spending during 1997-2010 didn't stop UK schools sliding down the world rankings. Government spending levels of 45% of GDP mean that the size of government is back to the level it was in 1982. However back then most public services were still nationalised, whereas these days you have to shell out for them on top of the costs of government. A major aspect is what modern governments are doing, and more often than not it means climbing onto people's backs rather than helping them.
From my stand-point as a libertarian, a major plank of the reported individualism is how extensive the idea of non- interventionism in others goes, and that means being relaxed about a person's private preferences has to extend to not having to care about any of their personal circumstances. Since that means not paying for it either, it becomes obvious why the welfare state is disliked. It is a case where one is forced into intervening into someone's personal circumstances, based on criteria that is dictated from above, though the simple expedient of having to pay for it. This generalises into an overall distrust of how collectivisation allocates winners and losers, which has a nasty tendency to hold down the ultra-ambitious.