Wednesday, 28 January 2009

RECONCILIATION-RECRIMINATION: Nothing new in Northern Ireland...

Heated exchanges in the Northern Ireland provinces today, triggered in the main by the proposal to pay a per capita compensation of twelve thousand pounds to 'victims' (that is, surviving relatives) of bombers on both sides of the Terror equation and innocent bystanders alike. Curiously, twelve thousand pounds is also the projected per capita debt of British taxpayers in a recession that now places us top of the league of recession-hit countries - thanks, of course, to Britain's rise as a major financial services sector after industry and manufacturing were systematically run down under the Thatcher Revolution. But they might have run down anyway. These islands have been picked over for their collective natural resources since the late eighteenth century. We were the first industrialised nation, and the first to fall. And we were the first financial sector, and the first, it seems to fall now, inspite of inheriting bad debts from the subprime loans scandal in the USA. Has being the biggest global empire (and that fell) taught us nothing at all about collective hubris? Instead of whinging about all this, we should accept it, stiffen those upper lips and CARRY ON REGARDLESS. God grant us the sense to live by what we need (Aeschylus - the ancient Greeks knew a lot about hubris!)

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Loop the Loop...

I'm starting this blog to stop myself shouting at the TV set. Every night now, and especially with the Hot Topic of the great Recession, our news in the UK gets loopier and loopier. Our government today announced the latest in a series of increasingly desperate short-term measures to refloat the economy: to whit - two billion more pounds sterling chucked this time at the ailing car industry. Only a year or two ago, the same Labour Government was telling us we were driving too many cars and penalising everyone who drove a car with a bigger engine than my little old (really old) Nissan Micra. But the issue here is not about cars at all; it's about common sense - or lack of it - on a grand old scale. I object to my tax being used to bale out banks and other corporates. And then being told (for this will come) that there's no money in the pot for health and education - sorry, 'training'.

I'm no financial expert (though I did make one or two inspired investments in the good old days); but I can go with the sound-bite from a worker at the beleagured Nissan factory. How can chucking money at the MANUFACTURER help, he wondered, if no one is buying cars anymore? Well said. Surely the sensible long term view is to accept that the car industry as we know it is on its last legs (wheels?) anyway - except possibly in China, and that any available tax revenue should go to retraining those workers who will, as sure as eggs is eggs, be on the scrap heap when the tide comes in. Just like the miners in the 1980s or the steelworkers or printers and all those other innocent casualties of the systematic run down of British manufacturing industry in the last thirty years.

And it's no good the Tories weighing in here either for they'd do nothing at all - not the Party that stepped back and leered at the Miners' Strike; the party that doesn't believe in interventionist Big Government in any shape or form. Labour may have lost the plot and, for what it was worth, my vote today (after 20 years) but that doesn't mean I'd vote for the opposition. But the Brown Cabinet just doesn't hack it. It governs - sure: there's far too much of that these days and not enough inspirational leadership. I mean, just look at them...JUST LOOK AT THEM!

On the lighter side, the BBC came up with an item today about a holiday company that doesn't welcome 'chavs' called Shannon or Britney, consciously targetting middle-class clients with names like James and Alice.

Only in dear old Blighty...