On the vision for a New England

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

President John F. Kennedy (attr.)

I am, as I believe I have mentioned before, a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or at least that’s what it says on my passport. That country has a government, which apparently represents the will of the population by the miracle of representative democracy, despite the fact that the neither the current Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak, at the time of writing) nor his predecessor has actually won a general election. To judge from that government’s legislative programme, however, the British people would prefer to live in Indonesia.

Why else, after all, would the government discard wholesale the legislation protecting workers’ rights? Why else would it seek to prevent commerce between the British and their closest neighbours? Apparently the royal road to universal prosperity is to give twelve-year-old girls the opportunity to work twelve-hour days making trainers for a few coppers per hour, unencumbered by all that tedious red tape and bureaucracy which used to drag us all down so terribly. How inspiring.

Environmental safeguards are also going into the skip, of course. After all, what has the natural world ever done for us? Rivers are nothing more than a handy conduit for the disposal of noxious wastes, forests a mere obstacle to development, occupying land that could more profitably be turned into desirable executive residences.

Let’s relive the glory days of John Major and his clarion call to return to Victorian values, when we were sending kids up chimneys and the age of consent was thirteen. Hell, let’s repeal the Factory Acts while we’re at it. If GDP goes up, that has to be good, right? A rising tide lifts all boats. Stands to reason.


Well, maybe. There is a saying that an economist is someone who has his head in the oven and his feet in the fridge and declares that he’s fine on average. It could be that this kind of rising tide mostly favours yachts. If you have shares in Nike (other manufacturers of sweatshop-produced trainers are available) than maybe it’s great news that you can also make money in Sheffield or Barrow-in-Furness or Middlesbrough or Nottingham. There are certainly people who make out like bandits from all this stuff and maybe, dear reader, you are one of them, although I doubt it.

Is this just NIMBYism on my part? Not at all. The fact is, I don’t even want Indonesia to have to be Indonesia. It sucks to be someone else’s colony; there are better ways to live, and I’d like that for Indonesia as much as I’d like it for the UK or anywhere else. You may say it’s karma for Britain to undergo the fate we inflicted on so much of the world in the past, but as I’ve pointed out before, two wrongs don’t make a right.

(Yes, I know it’s fashionable these days to claim that wrongs are the raw material from which all moral claims are forged, but that’s another conversation.)

An economy is supposed to be a system which allocates goods and services so that, by and large, people get what they need. The current system only meets that definition if you equate “people” with “rich people.” But then, as the Bible clearly states:

For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

Mark 4:25

There’s also a bit involving a camel and the eye of a needle, but I think we can all agree to take that metaphorically.

No, the more I think about it, the clearer it becomes that the UK government is merely implementing the eternal will of God the Market, and we lesser beings should shut up and be grateful. After all, what do I know? It’s not like I’m a merchant banker.

Comments are welcome, but I do pre-moderate them to make sure they comply with the house rules.

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