Wednesday, 7 October 2015
They say a butterfly flapping its wings in an Amazon forest could possibly set off a chain of events that could culminate in a hurricane laying waste to a community some weeks later. This particular phenomenon has never been proved to have happened, but the butterfly effect is a well-known descriptor in the form of study of nonlinear dynamics known as Chaos Theory. One wonders why it is not more commonly employed in the study of politics to discover why perfectly predictable outcomes are rarely foreseen by those whose initial actions bring them into being.
I am fortunate enough to be on the road early enough most mornings that I regularly catch the end of Farming Today on Radio 4. As the Conservative conference continues there is talk of the EU referendum and naturally the farmers are frit. The debate yesterday was ‘in or out of the EU. Which is better for the UK?’ and in particular, what will become of the Common Agricultural Policy. The CAP is of course one of the perverse incentives that now leads some dairy farmers to sell their milk for less than it costs to produce. Remember the butter mountains, the wine lakes and the cornflakes cast out to sea? (Now I’m a farmer – The Who, 1974)
In order to protect the relatively inefficient French agricultural industry of the times and promote food security the CAP was introduced in 1962 and since then it has ensnared ever more farmers in its web; paid for not growing, penalised for overproduction and generally fucking about with none of their bloody business. Want to keep the farm in the hands of those who have tended it for hundreds of years? Then grow as you’re told. Everybody agrees it’s a mess but nobody will tackle it. This is what happens when you do business under artificial incentives.
Then we heard Theresa May admitting that all immigration is not necessarily good immigration. No, really? You mean the thing that everybody has been called racist for daring to speak out about is now the government’s official stance? I expect Nigel Farage is merrily laughing his bits off down the old George & Dragon. What was it, Theresa that made you say openly what all parties except Ukip have been actively denying for years? Can it really be that you are changing your mind in the face of new evidence, or is it mere opportunism to pretend to democracy at the start of your leadership bid?
Of course we welcome the genuine ‘diversity’ (sociology for ‘They do WHAT?’) that immigration brings but is a Balti house on every street corner a fair exchange for the systematic rape and trafficking of thousands of teenage girls, the forced accommodation of muslim ghettoes in Britain’s large cities and wailing fucking muezzins, moaning monotonously from manky minarets with no planning consent at all times of the day? Who could possibly have predicted that allowing half the sub-continent to just walk in and set up souk could possibly have ended this way?
All actions have consequences and the actions of government spread their ripples wide. Financial incentives to behave in a particular way create rent-seeking professions as ‘making a living’ supplants performing a genuinely useful function. The complex web of interdependence allows armies of advisors, gurus, facilitators and plain old crooks to flourish and feed off the subsidies. Why turn your hand to an honest day’s tilling the soil when you can just mow the grass around your motionless wind turbines? Why seek better employment when tax credits and housing benefit top up your Saturday job wages to the equivalent of that of a full-time nurse?
So it is refreshing at first to hear government ministers and well-placed MPs airing their understanding of where we have gone wrong. Refreshing, that is, until you realise that being in Parliament these days is just another rent-seeking activity and rarely constitutes honest service to the country. As Boris begins to show his hand and others are busy rallying their own support you realise that conference is just another exercise in chaos and what we are seeing is one big butterfly spreading its meddlesome wings.