Friday, March 18, 2016

"the violence of well-intentioned governments" can convert "dearth into famine."

Line I hadn't heard before, but it covers the point nicely.  In this case about Ireland.
Far from allowing the market to work, England launched a massive program of government intervention, consisting mainly of building workhouses, most completed just prior to the onset of the Famine.

Earlier, the Irish Poor Inquiry had rejected the workhouse as a solution to poverty. In the report, Archbishop Whately — attacked today for his free-market stand — argued that the solution to poverty is investment and charity, but these "radical" findings were rejected by the English who threw out the report and appointed George Nicholls to write a new one.

The workhouses, an early version of New Deal make-work programs, only made the problem of poverty worse. A system of extensive public works required heavy taxation on the local economy. The English officials directed money away from projects that would increase productivity and agricultural output into useless road building.

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