Thursday, 20 July 2017
Bread and circuses, as the satirical poet Juvenal wrote, was a metaphor for the practice of governments, rather than accomplishing worthwhile reform, of appeasing a selfish population and distracting them from harsh reality. Nowadays it is more akin to cake and condemnation, as developed world populations have more than ever before, yet are still not satisfied. And who better to condemn than those who appear to have even more still? To this end the publishing of the BBC ‘Rich List’ is a master stroke.
I feel sorry for each and every one of them – yes, even Gary Lineker – their reward for years of achievement being to taste the bitter wrath of the envious. Next stop will be publishing their tax returns so that the aggrieved can ignore the massive contributions they make to state coffers and instead focus on every penny they have managed, perfectly legally, to avoid. And why stop at the BBC stable: next up, leaders, administrators, moguls and magi will all be in the spotlight of public derision, purely for having slithered up that greasy pole.
On top of the basic malcontent, the media has cleverly contrived to make the BBC affair all about some imaginary gender/race/diversity pay gap, but it’s really about nothing so much as putting a group in the stocks for entertainment while absolutely nothing is done to change a single thing. Hot on the heels of Lineker-gate comes the revelation that some workers – who have yet to even contemplate retirement seriously - will only have twenty years to plan to keep working until the age of 68 before becoming a welfare waif. Outrage!
But nobody does angry injustice quite so well as the daily-multiplying ex-residents of Grenfell Tower. Not content with surviving the fire, by proxy in some cases, they are now determined to talk themselves into disability through post-traumatic-somebody-else’s-stress-disorder and demand that official after official sent to help them is sacked, dismissed or otherwise shamed. In this way they can prolong the perceived hurt and turn their salvation into madness; the kind of madness only lots of money and lots of attention can assuage.
But look, I mean really, take a good long hard look at yourself. If you are today raging against the BBC, the Kensington councillors, the hateful, hateful future government who might not give you a pittance until you work another few months, then you are where the fault lies. If you look at others earning more and think that they are the problem, treat yourself to this Spectator illustration, wherein a couple earning £70k pay tax enough to subsidise a couple on £17k to have pretty much the same lifestyle.
When life gives you lemons; lemonade. When you are schooled at Hard Knock High; knock back. One day you may discover that while reality sucks it’s going to suck a whole lot harder if you give the job of sucking to somebody else. Suck it up, snowflake, you get one life and it is nobody else’s responsibility to make it a good one. You want your daily bread? Bake it yourself. You want your circus? Go juggle.