Friday, 3 March 2017

Austerity is back

Some people are never satisfied – take the lords and their never ending bickering over whether Brexit means Brexit or not... And Gina Miller who, having subverted the whole process is now bitching because the House of Commons is unwilling to play her game. Meanwhile, over in Brussels, Jean-Claude Juncker is having his own moment of madness by trying to pretend he genuinely wants meaningful EU reform, as many millions wish, while insisting simultaneously that continuing on the same path toward further integration is the only way forward.

You’d think by now that somebody bigger might have come along to knock all their heads together, but over in USA-Land, the same kind of non-arguments are being pursued, with rumours that Barry Obama is heading up a stop-Trump coalition. And all the while the uncertainties are making the money men richer while raiding the prospects of everybody else. The world just isn’t rigged in favour of the honest little man, it never was. But the power is in the hands of all of us to make a difference.

After ten years of top-down imposed austerity (so-called) I see little evidence of belt-tightening by the Richard Bransons of this planet. But they aren’t the problem; were the wealth creators to pay no tax at all they would still be distributing billions in wages, which is what actually runs the entire economy. Labour’s ridiculous posturing over rich men’s tax affairs hides a simple truth; they have no answer and can’t face the naked truth that we have lived beyond our means for years.

Thrift, as a virtue is a concept from a world long gone, although it is still survives in a few pockets of consciousness and indeed, right here in the UK – what is left of it – is possibly the world’s foremost exemplar of the noble principle. Not for nothing has the interrogative “You’ll have had yer tea?” passed into folklore as a distillation of Scottish parsimony. Now, at a time when the Scots especially may need to consider going without, it’s a paradigm we might all do well to heed.

Al of which reminds me of an incident, not so very many years ago, when a soldier in the full ceremonial uniform of the Black Watch strode into a Glasgow chemist’s shop. He approached the counter, asked to see a male pharmacist then very carefully opened his sporran and took out a neatly folded cotton handkerchief. Inside this a smaller, silk handkerchief was revealed, which he then proceed to likewise unfold. In there lay a small square of tissue paper, inside which was a condom.

The soldier took out the condom and gently placed it for the pharmacist to inspect. The condom had a number of patches on it, which the chemist noticed immediately. He took out a magnifying glass and examined it more closely. The soldier cleared his throat and asked.

“How much to repair it?”

"Sixty pence," said the pharmacist.

“How much for a new one?”

“A poond.”

The soldier painstakingly folded the condom into the tissue, wrapped it in the silk square, then folded it carefully into the cotton handkerchief replaced it in his sporran, and marched out of the door, shoulders back, chin held high and kilt swinging. A moment or two later the pharmacist heard a great shout go up outside, followed by an even greater cheer. The soldier strode back into the shop marched up to the counter and saluted the pharmacist with a broad grin on his face.

“The regiment has taken a vote,” he said, “and we'll have a new one.”

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