The Curmudgeon


Friday, April 30, 2010

Economics, Ethics and Flying Half-Bricks

Those who dabble in the real world to the extent that they are aware, say, of the inadvisability of stepping into a concrete yard from the top of a ten-storey building, might possibly find something a bit anomalous in the announcement by Britain's biggest banks that doing the opposite of what led us into our present difficulties could lead the country into difficulties in the future. The banks are worried because certain quaint but dangerous crypto-Marxist voices are arguing that it is imprudent to gamble with money you haven't got, particularly when all three of the parties to the next government are planning to punish the taxpayer so enthusiastically that almost any pleasurable anticipation of another bail-out seems a little optimistic. The banks are worried that if the new regulations are too stringent they will be unable to lend to businesses and householders while maintaining their executives and shareholders in the style to which they are accustomed.

Let's give our moral compass a bit of a needling, shall we? A gang of hoodies, the spawn (just to make it easier) of unmarried, arguably non-indigenous parents, are playing a game of pass-the-parcel with half a brick serving as the parcel. When the half-brick cannot be passed any further, whoever is holding it simply throws it over their shoulder whereupon it crashes through the ground-floor windows of the nearest three-storey house which (just to make it easier) is owned by a hard-working businessman who makes regular donations to a mainstream, centre-neoliberal political party. Eventually there are no half-bricks left, so the hoodies threaten to break every window on the second floor unless more are supplied. Thanks to government intervention, more bricks are placed at the hoodies' disposal. These bricks were intended for the construction of a conservatory in which to keep the businessman's handicapped daughter chained up in more scenic surroundings than those to which she has hitherto been accustomed; but one of the duties of government is the making of tough decisions which balance the needs of the vulnerable against the requirements of the people in big boots. The hoodies resume their game of pass-the-parcel, breaking fewer windows than before because the ones on the first floor are harder to hit than the ones on the ground floor. However, the game is disrupted yet further when some builders turn up and start asking for their bricks back so that they can go and "build something".

What - in the immortal words of Ed Balls - is the right thing to do? Should the hoodies be rounded up, dressed in orange jackets and forced to clean up the mess they've made? Should the builders be told to find something more constructive to do than driving house prices down by reducing demand? Or should the businessman be forced to carry all the bricks out of his own house and restore them to the hoodies so that the game can continue?


  • At 8:23 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Please could you tell me how many pages in Beelzebub?
    Thanks John Gibson

  • At 8:52 pm , Blogger Philip said...

    Two hundred and sixty-three. The page for each book shows the page count.

  • At 3:06 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Thank you.


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