Tuesday, 12 April 2016
The Beauty of the Beast
There’s danger in the woods; the wicked witch and the big bad wolf live there. And whatever you do, don’t go scoffing bits of gingerbread houses. Trolls hide under the bridge, giants live in the clouds and a whole host of night terrors keep you clinging to your bedclothes. We love a good fairy tale and the creepier it is the better. Fairies, or better yet ‘faeries’, in ancient folklore were often portrayed as powerful mischievous beings who could wreak havoc on the lives of humans. In modern times the softer ‘fairy story’ is still a cipher for the lies, big and small, we use to influence others.
There are the little lies, of course, such as ‘the cheque is in the post’ and ‘I emailed you but it got bounced back’ which we should be wise to by now; prevarication and mischief which probably harm nobody and colluding with which helps to smooth the daily course of business. But society invents what it must surely know are pure myths, such as ‘eat yourself slim’, breeding the vain hope that such a thing as the chocolate and red wine diet actually exists. And many are the fabulous but nonetheless fictional tales of human equality; of simple goodness winning over actual bankable ability.
The world of politics has its own stock cast of bogeymen, such as the evil Tory who lives in a castle (don’t they all?) and dines on suckling baby while plotting to literally grind the bones of the poor into the dirt for no other reason than he can. Denis Skinner – the Beast of Bolsover – obviously swallows all this, as evidenced by his furious performance in the Commons yesterday. In Labour folklore, of course, the beasts are kind and warm and cuddly and like the Kinnocks would never dream of profiting by the ordinary man’s taxes. In that shadowy faerie world there is good money (Labour) and evil money (Tory).
Thus Evil Tory money is acquired by toil and sweat and the creation of wealth, which is taxed and turned into hospitals and roads and justice. Whereas Lovely Labour money is donated generously by kind benefactors who only wish to see us happy and leave all that horrid reality to others. All our kind uncles want in return is our love... and lifelong interest; one of the biggest political fairy tales is the one where we spend our way out of debt – but just in case you are suspicious they call this debt ‘investing in the economy’. It’s about as believable as ‘I promise I won’t come in your mouth’.
Go on... you know you want to.
As for acquired wealth, is it genuinely the case that there is a good way to be rich and a bad way to be rich? Or is the simple mundane truth that those who are able will confer benefits on their children one way or another? To get upset over legally passing on wealth as tax efficiently as possible is to try to deny to some the possibility to live happily ever after just because not everybody gets to live that fairy tale. The politics of envy are just as ugly as the politics of avarice and both leave a nasty taste... but do you spit or swallow?