Jules Gomes sees the Archbishop of Canterbury as a small biting insect spreading the disease of Keynesian economics
A squadron of mosquitoes invades a nudist colony. The insects find this a new experience. Thus far they have struggled for sustenance by feeding on people who clothe themselves. Now their cups of haemoglobin runneth over. This is a bloody banquet. Body upon body of bare flesh flashes an open invitation. Every mosquito can drink to its heart’s content. There is more than enough for everyone.
The mosquitoes dive into the fleshpots of the new world. Some drink more than others. Some capitalise on the excess and begin marketing a whole range of products from the surplus blood. Others take their good fortune for granted. They become lazy and reckless. They no longer risk carrying out nightly raids on slumbering flesh for a quick prick and sip, but loll around and live on bloodsucking handouts paid for by the hardworking mosquitoes. A group of younger mosquitoes give themselves over to a life of intoxication as they begin sucking blood solely from alcoholics and drug addicts in the nudist colony.
The mosquitoes have elected a few representatives to govern them. The overseers believe in maximum freedom. There is, after all, plenty for everyone and no reason why anyone should starve. Despite this, a new political party of mosquitoes called Marxitoes begin feverishly discussing what they see as the malarial economic decline of the new Mosquitoland.
Meanwhile, immigrant and refugee mosquitoes hear of the mosquito paradise and brave mosquito nets and insect repellents to fly to this new country. The agitators, however, are zipping around spraying the air with buzzwords such as ‘inequality’ and ‘redistribution of blood’. Mosquito paradise isn’t good enough. They begin campaigning for a mosquito utopia, Mosquitopia.
One of the chief agitators is Arch-Mosquito of Canterbury ‘Proboscis Just-in’ Welby. On the very same day the British Social Attitudes survey trumpets the passing away of his Church of England (it died of yellow fever, being too cowardly to confront the culture), Welby is humming his one-note tune based on My Favourite Things from The Sound of Muzak. But poor Welby, unlike Sister Maria, has only one favourite thing he can talk about – it isn’t ‘raindrops on roses’ or ‘whiskers on kittens’, it isn’t even the gospel, it is ‘inequality, inequality, inequality’.
Welby begins by scaring the hell out of the mosquitoes in the nudist colony. ‘We stand at a moment of significant economic uncertainty,’ he declares in the high-pitched whine of an anopheles mosquito. ‘Britain’s economic model is broken and produces widespread inequality . . . What we are seeing is a profound state of economic injustice.’
The swarm of mosquito agitators from the Left-wing Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) wave their probosces and chorus in unison with the Archbishop of Canterbury in a 122-page report called Time for Change: A New Vision for the British Economy.
‘The British economic model needs fundamental reform. It is no longer generating rising earnings for a majority of the population, and young people today are set to be poorer than their parents . . . the economy we have today is creating neither prosperity nor justice,’ the report states. Fiddlesticks! It calls the current British economic model an ‘economic muddle’ and offers a ‘new vision for the economy in 2030,’ an ‘inclusive economy which distributes economic rewards fairly’. The report is replete with wild exaggerations. ‘The UK is the most geographically unbalanced economy in Europe.’ Okay, next? ‘The UK economy distributes rewards very unequally.’ Pish posh!
On the contrary, the nudist colony has abundant opportunities for everyone. Jobs are being created at an unprecedented rate. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, income inequality remains highest in London, but there have been big falls since the recession. The gap between rich and poor is smaller than a decade ago. Inequality in Britain is lower than France, Italy, Canada or Australia, says the World Bank. Britain’s headline employment rate has grown to 74.9 per cent, a record high since comparable data was first compiled in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics. The average household income was £26,300, up in a year by £600, for the financial year ending in 2016.
The ghost of John Maynard Keynes haunts the economic model proposed by the IPPR. Keynes is the most frequently cited economist in the report. Keynes is Welby’s patron saint. ‘Another Keynes is needed,’ Welby wrote in Dethroning Mammon, his 2017 Lent book. Keynes called himself an ‘immoralist’ and ‘repudiated entirely customary morals, conventions and traditional wisdom’. Naturally, his disciple Welby, apart from his social justice warrior mumbo-jumbo, makes no attempt to link morality to prosperity.
‘Why are so many people so poor when others are so rich?’ asks Welby. ‘Yo Archie, would you like to repeat your question to economist Aparna Mathur? You might not like her answer, because though a number of economists have given similar answers, you and your fellow Lefties would still like to blame structures rather than encourage individuals to take personal responsibility, isn’t that so, Your Arch-Mosquito-ness?’
‘The biggest reason for income inequality is single parenthood,’ writes Mathur, who is not your average Western, white, male, cisgender, Christian. She cites extensive research by Robert I Lerman and W Bradford Wilcox in For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America. ‘The nation’s retreat from marriage is linked to growing family inequality, male joblessness, and economic stagnation,’ they observe.
Between 1980 and 2012, median family income rose 30 per cent for married parent families in the US. For unmarried parents, family incomes rose only 14 per cent. Between 1980 and 2008, about 51 per cent of the decline in men’s employment rates in the US was associated with the retreat from marriage. ‘These findings are striking not only because they affect current levels of income and income inequality, but because these effects persist across generations,’ writes Mathur.
Surely this is common sense? Why does the Archbishop choose to ignore the facts that our choices and attitudes towards marriage critically influence income inequality and economic mobility, when marriage should be a ‘good’ with which he, as a Christian prelate, should be deeply concerned? It would be facile to claim that a society built on marriage and family is the only factor. But it is such a major factor that one has to be morally blind or ideologically bankrupt to ignore the cause and effect between the breakdown of the family and the prosperity that comes from a society built on the bedrock of marriage.
There are other virtues such as thrift and hard work that contribute to prosperity. Orthodox Jewish talk-show host Ben Shapiro repeatedly quotes a credo from the left-leaning Brookings Institute. There are three things you should do if you don’t want to be permanently poor: ‘Graduate high school, get a job, and don’t get pregnant before you are married.’
The nudist colony has great suckings. Never in history have so many people enjoyed so much prosperity. Don’t let the Archbishop of Canterbury and his swarm of fellow-Marxitoes tell you otherwise.