At the End of the Day

Personal ethics and ambition are the only things able to keep State irresponsibility in check.

If, as a result of poor mental health, you are keen on curried chocolate, then this is the time for you. For today is National Curry and Chocolate Day, and for a further four days thereafter, it will be World Mental Health Week. As to this last celebration, I do not make light of it, having been an occasional sufferer myself over the years – and still a taker of the brain-stabilising tablets. But one senses that there is not a lot in these occasions for the card shops. I somehow doubt if there is much appeal for the greetings card that announces ‘Happy Curry-Chocs, You Mad Bastard’.

I did tweet earlier today suggesting that 95% of world leaders and stock exchange traders are in poor mental health; given the decisions they’ve taken over the last five years, there is a certain QED auto-proof in that assertion, although it got very little response from the Twitterati. Being largely pc educated and Right On, perhaps they too are having problems with the reality/voices-told-me-to-do-it thing.

Is this just idle badinage? Not really. In recent years, most folks of my generation have been fed on a Government-forced diet of buggered pensions (Brown + markets), zero interest rates, and covert containment of our access to gold bullion. If the Bank of England continues on its odd path of believing that increased use of failed strategies is the only way, then our next gift from above will be double-digit inflation.

As most authorities now accept, the Zirp strategy was a laudable attempt to allow our banks to repair their Nottingham lace balance sheets. But as they didn’t last time, it seems to me unlikely they’ll do it now. Set against this is irrefutable empirical data showing how 17% of retired households devoid of debt have the potential spending power of 30% of all households. Thus, had Zirp never been adopted in the UK, the current depression would be – who knows? – a mere recession.

It probably goes without saying that many of these potty decisions have been driven by the financial axis. But without the approval of democratically elected politicians – and the agreement of corrupt civil servants – they wouldn’t have been turned into policy. How did this happen?

To understand this, we have to go back to the basics of what The Slog is all about. That is to say, taking responsibility, and thinking about the consequences of one’s actions. And it’s odd, when you consider it, how closely tied to the Underclass our Uberklass is on these bases.

How many of our Government have had to be responsible bigtime for their actions? Theresa May, George Osborne, David Cameron, Oliver Letwin – and yes, even arch-consultant William Hague….were any of them entrepreneurs with their houses on the line? No. The only exception to this rule is Ian Duncan-Smith, who as a senior military officer had to make life-and-death decisions. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but he seems to me to be the only Coalition Minister (apart from Michael Gove) actually making any real progress based on a higher calling and strong willpower.

How many Underclass kids had fathers they respected – and thus risked crossing them when taking rash sexual decisions? How many of them had been inspired by teachers enough to see an impulsive choice as a bad idea? How many of them fear the Rule of Law? These are questions we can just as well address to our politicians.

Consider: if you’ve never had to expect a near-certainty of having to take personal responsibility for something, then

(a) you’ll expect someone else to clear up the consequent mess

(b) you won’t worry about the ramifications of short-termism

(c) you will see no point in eschewing the short term gain in favour of planning for the long term; and

(d) you won’t appreciate the benefits of applying self-discipline….as opposed to the instant gratification of a higher poll rating.

Any names come to mind? My choices would be Tony Blair, Tessa Jowell, Silvio Berlusconi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Manuelo Barroso, George Bush, Jean-Claude Trichet, and Barack Obama.

Over time, I am reaching the conclusion that Blair was a looter, pure and simple. Tessa Jowell was an accessory to drug pushing. To all intents and purposes, in his PFI accounting procedures, Gordon Brown was a fraudster, and in the way he spent taxpayers’ money to prop up Northern Rock, an embezzler. Nicolas Sarkozy wants the EU to pay for the sins of his own banks, Berlusconi wants anybody (he’s not fussy) to pay for his fiscal lies, Barack Obama wants China to cough up for his truly ill-advised Universal healthcare policy, and David Cameron hopes to get the hard-pressed taxpayer to pay for the folly of his banking mates, on the basis of us all “being in this together”.

I need someone to tell me what the difference is between Wayne or Tariq or Dean or Delbert or Debbie or Yolanda expecting everything from money for being idle to a council flat for being pregnant…and Tony, Silvio, Nicolas and David wanting us to suffer higher taxes and poor services for being spineless in the face of multinational selfishness and banking recklessness.

There is, of course, a quantitative difference; but qualitatively, I see no difference at all. What we have here is a crisis of socio-poliical morality, and a chronic ignorance of ethics. The need is for teachers in the Biblical sense – for sages able to speak with equal authority to both high and low.

I often refer to the folks in charge as mad, but in reality very few of them are. They are merely bereft of the values that lead to studied foresight, and incapable of tapping the creative risk that leads to useful insight.

We have little need of National Curry Days, but we have an aching requirement for a Decade of Responsibility, and the right to a Century of Self-Discipline. This would give much-needed power back to the citizen, and make our governments that much more accountable. Only in this way can we make our States smaller, and our personal ambition greater.