Austerity for Posterity

Update: Austerity, the transfer of national wealth to the rich is expected to intensify after the next election.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Baroness Lister of Burtersett, a peer of the House of Lords, is depressed. This is regrettable as the three-week party conference season is almost at hand and the citizens of the joined kingdom are breathless with anticipation. This year there is to be a prize for the best keynote speech. The Lord Chancellor George Osborne has decided to rap “Austerity for Posterity” after hearing Greek hip-hop artists, “Soul System”.

High Street betting shops on which the economy now depends – and outside which debtors, held firmly in stocks, are pilloried – make him the favourite to medal. Mr Osborne is a member of the Ascendancy, the old Anglo-Irish aristocracy, and heir to the baronetcies of Ballentaylor and Ballylemon.

He changed his name from Gideon to George in an act of rebellion. I digress. The Baroness is not down in the mouth because of the boyish, Oxford educated, George. Five Tory MPs, inducted at the last election, are responsible for the Black Dog.

Kwasi Kwarteng and Priti Patel, the offspring of Ghanaian and Ugandan immigrants respectively, lead this pack of young guns and rising stars. They have discovered the cause of double-dip recession and eternal stagflation. In their book “Britain Unchained” – available for signing at the party conference – they reveal the shocking truth.

The British are lazy gits working the lowest hours in the world. Although dispirited, Baroness Lister has raised hackles and risen to the defence of the natives. She says Britons actually work the longest hours in Europe if you leave out part-time workers.

As this includes most of the peers, she has sensibly refrained from calling for a ban on part-time work. Instead, quite decently, she attacks the work ethic itself. “It conjures up an image of us all as units of production whose primary function is to perform to our maximum to the greater good of GB plc.

This is on the lines of living to work rather than working to live… Do you agree that we should work longer or would you like to see a gradual move towards a shorter working week?” The unemployed said they wished to work longer. No doubt so that they could go back to work and be idle again, said Kwasi and Co. Work life balance and its attachments, flexible working and zero hours contracts, are no longer trending issues at the office water cooler, which in any case has been removed.

Workers now bring their own water in supermarket labelled bottles from better times. Water riots and freedom from thirst may yet take precedence over Pussy Riots and freedom of expression. I ramble, again. The coalition government, which secretly includes Labour Plus, is on the side of the unemployed. Even those born this year may access at directgov.com the date on which a pension will truncate any work they may find.

Toddlers will be glad for this information showing they may be able to work for the rest of the century without the bother of retirement. Older folk are also protected as the pensionable age rises to 70 and beyond. Indeed a future in which only death will disqualify a person from working is on the horizon. In theory, there has never been such consensus on work security.

The closed shop (for four to nine year olds) proposed by chimney sweeps has rightly been condemned. These ragged trousered urchins are usually seen, tomato handed of a Saturday, at the Ladbrokes stocks, which they favour. It is remarkable that so many wish to work continuously but remain hands-free.

Sadly, “Britain Unchained” does not provide an international comparison of idleness among the unemployed that shows whether Britons do just as badly in this group. Perhaps as Jerome K. Jerome observed, “It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do”.

The creation of 117 new peers since last May – taking active membership of the Lords to 792 – has certainly given a few more Britons the chance for optimal idleness. Goofing-off is even more enjoyable for the 650 MPs in the Commons able to share their passion with like-minded journalists.

To be fair televised public inquiries into such indolence gives everybody else a chance to do the same. Celebrate – the UK’s largest trade union – has been scathing about the failure of successive governments to redistribute imaginative idleness, opting instead for third world models (enforced idleness) – and now the more recent European variety (resentful idleness) popular in Greece.

The government has defended itself saying it has never produced anything useful, even as a by-product. It puts the blame on privatisation, which restricted idleness to ski slopes, and Michelin rated restaurants. Celebrate – whose default membership includes all the people of Britain and Marxists – remains outraged but constructive.

At its conference this week, it called for Britain’s arms industry to be retooled to produce paper planes for the Saudis. Engineers and other highly paid technical staff will devolve this work to their children (who will have checked their retirement age on directgov.com).

This will allow the parents to use their time idly transferring knowledge and skills, tarting up the neighbourhood, growing and cooking food, building and refurbishing homes, starting-up businesses and running banks. They will also be available to celebrate when the Queen’s next jubilee comes around.

It is a kick in the teeth for austerity but that can’t be helped. The details of this reconstruction plan – the principles are applicable to all forms of genuine economic idleness – are being sent to the party conferences along with a perfume called Conscience – a breath of spring distilled from wildflowers in the re-occupied Commons’ says the accompanying note.

News that Celebrate is inspiring others would have cheered Baroness Lister. A report back from the erstwhile colony of South Africa warranted a standing ovation. Chancellor Pravin Gideon – who also changed his name as an act of rebellion – has told representatives of Jol, a Celebrate partner, that taxes will be abolished and an income stipend paid to all residents of the country.

Money will be made freely available for development. He blamed the IMF for the rampant inequalities that resulted from concentrating all investment in golf courses. Mr Gideon said he foresees a period of frenetic idleness as the resources of the country are deployed to benefit everybody. About time too, many would say.

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