Posted by: secretperson | March 3, 2008

Socialist Gordon Confused on ‘Personal Responsibility’

Janet Daley, writing in the Telegraph attacks Gordon Brown’s stand on personal responsibility. Her main argument is that the New Labour government has removed more power from the individual than ever before, but still seeks to blame individuals when things beyond their control go wrong.

It is noticeable in his talk of ‘fulfilling potential’ that he sees this as an individual’s responsibility to the economy, not just something the government should help with. People should eat healthily (and be taxed into doing so) not for their own good but to avoid being a burden on the NHS.

Noticeable was a story at the end, which sums up the confused thinking, where individuals tried to take responsibility. Actually not as ‘selfish individuals’ but an act of charity for a friend.

Case in point: a young man is paralysed in an accident and requires an electric wheelchair to achieve any mobility. There is a waiting list of 18 months for these chairs, which cost thousands of pounds to buy.

So his friends go on a fund-raising drive – pub quizzes, sponsored runs, and so on. Having raised enough money to buy his chair, they learn that to do so would rule him out of any further treatment for his condition under the NHS. (This is a true story with details disguised to protect anonymity.)

Were his friends behaving responsibly in the finest spirit of charity, or were they being selfish in promoting the interests of their own friend? If they had bought the wheelchair, would it have been their fault that many other patients without such helpful supporters would have had to wait longer?

It reminds me of another story where a woman offered to pay for drugs the NHS couldn’t afford, but would then have had to forfeit any other care. So two people dying together is better than one having the chance to live longer? That’s “equality” for you.

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