Monday, September 29, 2008

Back To The Puggies On The Promenade As The Supercasino Of The World Economy Collapses

Originally uploaded by Herschell Hershey.
There have been many times, over the last 40 years, when I have found myself on the wrong side of history. The sale of the public utlities, in which the unemployed and the feckless were encouraged to join the share-owning minority, was one such occasion. It was not that I was unattracted by the idea of money for nothing - I have played the penny falls and patronised the puggies at the Portobello funfair - but I felt demeaned by the advertising campaign, which was aimed squarely at people called "Sid".
When the building societies "demutualised", I received no windfalls, and no acknowledgment of my letters to the Peebles Times-Picayune stating that demutualisation was a code word which could be better understood by the term "highway robbery", if not "blood money". In those heady days, when council houses were given free with Shredded Wheat, the Conservative government established the principle that money could, indeed, be had for nothing, and that the main point - if not the only point - of government was to hand out this booty with as much fanfare as possible. Since then, no political party - with the possible exception of the Liberal Democrats under the gregarious highlander Mr Charles Kennedy - has felt comfortable with the traditional equation in which public services were understood to be funded by taxation. The New Labour project, stewarded by the Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown, has been one in which taxation was more heavily disguised than Mr Tim Turner in The Invisible Man.
Today, apparently, is one of the worst days in banking history. Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley have been nationalised, and their bowler hats banished from the City of London. Their mistake, apparently, was in selling "buy-to-let" mortgages at implausible rates to people who couldn't really afford them. All of the demutualised building societies have now perished, though some of them at least had the good manners to do so without being rescued by the taxpayer.
As I write, the Dow Jones index on Wall Street is plunging at the speed of an Apollo re-entry vehicle, and a conservative Congressman is warning that the rescue plan advocated by the political establishment represents "the slippery slope to socialism". Would that it were so. Such a fate might imply a degree of economic planning, albeit with the side effect that the supermarkets would run short of fresh vegetables while being overstocked with tractor tyres and shoes comprising two left feet.
It's at moments like this that I am grateful that my savings are stored in jamjars in the airing cupboard, behind my wellington boots. There they will stay until conditions improve, or - as seems more likely - hell freezes over, and Caol Ila rains from the marshmallow clouds in the black autumn sky. Then, and only then, will I empty the jamjars.


Anonymous said...

Since the beginning of these financially straitened times I have reduced my restaurant gratuities to zero. Being from Aberdeen, I was somewhat angered to hear the stage whisper of a somewhat less than gruntled waiter, viz.,
"What's the difference between an Aberdonian and a canoe?
A canoe sometimes tips".

Do you suppose I have a valid case that would interest the race relations industry?

Kirk Elder said...

I am not convinced that the race relations people would be impressed by your case. However, I feel sure that the very state of "being from Aberdeen" will qualify you for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Board.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your helpful reply.This Criminal Injuries Board to which you refer sounds just the ticket. The recent and shocking rise in felonious behaviour has obviously made this CIB quango a sine qua non of modern society. I trust the board is empowered to injure criminals to the same happy extent as, say, Singapore's rattan-wielding prison officers.

Anonymous said...

why don't you post more often??

Anonymous said...

Britain's shrinking economy might have avoided the ruination visited upon it by globalisation if the Prime Minister possessed the same command of 'the dismal science' as his predecessor and fellow Scot, Alec Douglas Home, whose economic calculations were effected, he proudly claimed, by the use of matchsticks.
Also, the old aristocrat's honesty was of a bygone era. When campaigning in his prospective constituency (West Perthshire & Kinross) he was asked whether, upon winning, he was going to purchase a house in the area.

"Oh no, I have far too many houses already", said Alec.