Saturday 11 February 2012

Austerity of Imagination

In the nineteen-forties and fifties, my maternal grandmother spent most of her week cooking, washing and cleaning for eleven kids and an ungrateful husband in a house whose only source of heat was a coal fire with a back boiler. The 'washing machine' was gran, a copper and a mangle. Around the corner, in the nineteen sixties, on the same council estate, my mother used a top-loading, electric washing machine, filled and emptied by hand.

There were two cars in the street, we dreamed of having a telephone and a refrigerator and it never occurred to any of us that Aristotle Onassis didn't deserve his yacht.

'The rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer' is a fallacy. What happens is everybody gets richer, some get proportionately more rich and the majority get ideas above their station. Due to decades of creeping socialism we even have a class of people in this country who do sweet fuck-all yet complain at the prospect of what is being touted as 'austerity'.

I was intending to write about how I'd set about curing poverty, but when I looked at the patient I realised the diagnosis was wrong. There is no such thing as poverty in the UK. With the exception of a few perverse cases of hardship being wrought by person on person or person on self, either directly or by neglect, nobody actually starves to death, or is worked into the grave.

In fact, life in the UK is pretty bloody rosy all round. My parents were brought up during war and post-war rationing. Actual rationing of practically everything. My gran might think she'd gone to heaven. What would she make of near- universal car ownership, mobile phones and the Internet? How would she imagine people would occupy all their free time? By bitching and moaning, she'd have to conclude, because that seems to be all I ever hear.

Oh my, austerity is upon us. Austerity will bring us to our knees. The bodies will pile up in the streets because of all this austerity. Everywhere you look, all you see is austerity. Woe is us, whinge, cringe, wring hands... And yet, as soon as Fabio Tagliatelle quits as England manager all attention turns to seeking out a replacement.

Austerity my arse! That is NOT the preoccupation of a nation on its knees. If you think having fewer self-esteem therapists on the NHS is austere, you need a good kick up the backside. If you think not being able to afford Sky+ is austere you need a slap. And if you think not being able to go on holiday this year is austere you need a few weeks down the salt mines.

And this is not due to 'nasty' Tory policies, in fact it is Socialism and its doctrine of equalising ever-downwards that has robbed you of personal perspective, denied you the joy of self-determination and stripped you of your independence. Open your privileged, "don't-know you're-born" eyes and have a look at what happens in countries whose governments really don't care. Take a peek at Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and all the others on the usual list, which never changes and then tell me we're living in austerity.

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