The dependency culture does more harm than good

9 May 1997 | Catholic Herald (Headline by Catholic Herald)

May I put in a word for Sir Rocco Forte who is criticised quite forceably in the Herald (letters, 9 May).

In my day – I was born in 1925 – the most passionate, self-sacrificing, heroic – sometimes to the point of martyrdom – hard-working people, dedicated to the cause of bringing justice to the poor, were the communists.

When they gained power they got rid of a powerful human drive much disapproved of by Sir Rocco’s critics: self-help.

When 5,000,000 died of starvation in Russia and 40,000,000 in China, they brought back self-help. Even today “self-help” America is planning to ease the famine in “working for others” North Korea.

I know Sir Rocco’s critics are anti-capitalist not communist, nevertheless, if they ever came to power, the result would be the same. Human nature being what it is we need the engine of self-help to produce the goods; without it we starve.

And what about our world now?

The rapid and dramatic reduction in mortality in all countries of the “third world” this century, with the subsequent huge and unprecedented increase in population, has presented us with an unmanageable problem in the way of providing food, water, sanitation and medical care in these countries.

Whoever is in charge will have angry critics.

Catholic critics, as angry as any, will remain serenely oblivious to the fact that their anti-capitalism and their views on contraception have been part of the cause and not the cure.

Suffice it to say that those countries of the Far East which approach this matter by vigorous population control and by a self-help capitalism softened and bridled by family values and taxation may prove to have got it more nearly right than the countries of Latin America and Africa where there is no consensus on these matters.

Time will tell.

In the meantime, for the sake of the over-poor, please give us more of Sir Rocco and less of his critics.

Gerry Danaher