Friday, March 05, 2010

Name that country

... this cajoling of the electorate was carried to such lengths that, until the recent crisis brought them to their senses, the electors in many cases preferred to vote for a candidate who was known to possess an aptitude for promoting his own interests at the public expense rather than for a man who disdained to adopt such a course. They argued that, if a man had proved himself capable of using his political opportunities to his personal advantage, he would be the better equipped to promote the advantage of his constituents: an honest man would only preach to them ...

The country was thus exposed to the evils of paternalism in its most extreme form. The people, instead of being trained to independence and self-reliance, became increasingly dependent on those who were placed in authority; instead of being trained to think in terms of the national interest, they were encouraged to think only of the interests of their own district ...

With no training in citizenship, and unversed in the elementary canons of public finance, the people were unable to realise that excessive expenditure would inevitably recoil on their own heads; the Government evidently possessed or could raise the money and, if that was so, it was held to be their right to have the maximum share of it.

It's the 1933 Newfoundland Royal Commission (chapter 5), which came to the conclusion that huge debt and patronage politics put the Dominion (as it then was) beyond repair and that it should return to direct rule from London. This persisted until joining Canada in 1949.

Bertie Ahern had a special initiative that studied Ireland Newfoundland parallels. And although there were calls to abolish that initiative as a cost-saving measure, maybe its time has come.

Hat Tip: David Hale.

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