06 June 2009

i can see the grass grow root

Well as it's a long weekend and all...

We were driving home t'other night listening to the news, which contained a piece about the train wreck that is government in the UK - I think the actual news was the resignation of yet another Minister - and Mrs VVB asked me what had gone on.

I tried to sum up the 12 years since Blair won a convincing election in what was then (I think he proclaimed) "Cool Britannia." When everything looked so rosy... But what happened?

Outrageous expansion of the public sector: not only is the cost unsustainable but it sought to inject a genuine 'nanny' or 'big brother' State into everybody's lives.

Public private partnerships (called the Private Finance Initiative or PFI in the UK): desperate measures to keep debt off government books by giving the private sector a risk premium, and then retaining the risk anyway.

Outrageous intrusion into personal liberty through massive public surveillance, both overt (CCTV cameras) and covert (legislation to bundle troublemakers out of the public eye).

And then the systematised rorting of allowances that enabled the less ethical - which seems to have been most of them - to buy and sell a house tax free on an annual basis.

Management by numbers: stupidly conceived targets for hospitals, schools, police and all public services that merely acted to turn attention to gaming the system, that is, to meeting the targets at the expense of actually doing the job and getting the services to those who needed them.

All topped with a choking miasma of "spin": lack of progress on all fronts covered up by a systematic media blanket of unmitigated obfuscation and crap.

It all looked so rosy...

By the time I'd got through this list of horrors we were were almost home, so I didn't start on about the so-called "Third Way," which even then was a spin-infected euphemism for what was at heart a continuation of the then-triumphant neo-classical economic model. Probably just as well, Mrs VVB has a remarkably small tolerance for that sort of stuff: certainly when it's me doing the recounting.

I read somewhere that Kevin Rudd hopes he doesn't end up like Tony Blair, to which I can only say "me too" (because "amen" doesn't quite cut it here at VVB).

If you would like to wallow in the
misery that is contemporary Britain, please do so.

In fact reading Marina Hyde's article just now reminded me of a recurring thoguht I've been musing on for a while: are our political leaders nowadays simply less able than their predecessors? And if so, why? Do they really think we reached the end of history and all they really needed to do in the future ("going forward") was warm the chair, say a few words occasionally and cut ribbons/kiss babies? Do they get less useable or useful support, in terms of policy development, presentation of options and implications, from their bureacuracies? Do they actually want useable support?

Or have we as a society simply grown tired of seeking alterantives in policy approaches? I'm far from convinced that the doings of the last year, since the Global Financial Crisis made itself apparent, signal any subsntial shift from the dominant paradigm.

Sam the dog popped up today with an observation on strange doings in local politics: the previous leader of the opposition siding with unions about the sell-off of government assets (because we do have a few left here still to sell in sunny Queensland).

No wonder the general voting public gets thoroughly disenchanted with its elected choices. They seem to have minimal adherence to any standards of consistency and only the barest appreciation of the level of trust with which their offices are endowed.

As for Third Ways: don't be fooled by government bailouts of backrupt car makers, there still seems to be only one way, as enunciated by Mrs Thatcher all those years ago: There is no alternative.

Before we get to the music that I was going to post last night before Offspring No 2 popped up with that bemusing pisstake of Bonnie Tyler, here's a
useful site for those of you who believe that you can't believe everything you read. More's the pity we don't have an Australian version.

Now, some classic sixties R 'n B from the days when that genre contained both rhythm and blues, rather than attenuated gargling in the back of the throat. Oh, one moment...
look what I found on the way..one of my absolute fave songs from that fabulous period in the mid sixties when everything had rhythm and melody. Jangle jangle, in this case.

Now, ladies and gennelmen, I give you the sound of grass rooting...

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