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Saturday, 29 September 2012

The ratchet racket



One aspect of modern politics is how rarely our government puts things right after each disastrous social experiment.

The Conservatives in particular, we might expect to conserve, to be the party of mending the broken society they kept banging on about. If some things were better before they were changed, then the obvious corrective is to put them back as they were.

As drugs prohibition hasn’t worked, maybe we could try leaving it to personal choice as we did in Victorian times. Okay we’d want a prominent warning of the packs, but that’s all. Because that’s how things once were – a warning on the bottle and a verbal caution from the chemist behind the counter. What can’t we go back to that? Why is policing the preferred way?

After all, if heroin were to be cheaply available over the counter, is it not the case that the heroin addict is better off?  The argument for policing says we’d have more addicts, a possibility impossible to confirm unless we test it. Even so, wouldn’t it still be the case of comparing a number of better-off addicts with a lesser number who are certainly worse situated than they could be.

A cheap habit is a sustainable habit.

How about housing? If we have to pay high multiples of joint earning to buy a house, then shouldn’t we look back? Between 1919 and 1939 four million houses were built. Shouldn’t we increase supply by relaxing planning restrictions? No – it’s a ratchet racket. The bankers wouldn't like it.

Mortgages are millstones because that's what they are supposed to be.

Every change is a response to vested interests and intended to be permanent. There is no going back, no putting things right, no correcting obvious mistakes. It doesn’t matter how obvious the mistakes are or how simple the solution, once vested interests get their own way there is no real debate.

The narrative alters once changes are made - good or bad it makes not a scrap of difference. All is deemed to be progress by inerrant governments. Mistakes are never mistakes once their promoters get their feet under the table.

History is rewritten.
There is no going back.

6 comments:

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Fair comment - presumably you would agree to us deciding what we want locally - rather than a central edict covering all?

Roger said...

All a very knotty problem.

Had a knotty problem in my garden - a hopeless tangle grown entangled over many years, a bit like parliament. This morning I took a chainsaw to it - no alternative really. Perhaps Cam needs to wield a chainsaw before someone takes a chainsaw to him!

A K Haart said...

Witterings - yes I would, very much so. We need involvement and the dynamism that central direction does nothing to foster.

Roger - I don't see Cameron as a chainsaw guy, although if it was a matter of his survival - who knows?

Sam Vega said...

Good post - as usual it suggests lots of different angles.

"The Conservatives in particular, we might expect to conserve, to be the party of mending the broken society they kept banging on about. If some things were better before they were changed, then the obvious corrective is to put them back as they were."

The Conservative angle is particularly interesting. I don't see modern Tory Party activists as conservatives. They probably were when there was more of a consensus over what a good life for the majority of us might reasonably consist of. But now the term is just a label for the privileged. They are prepared to muck things up for everyone else, providing they and theirs get what they want. I genuinely have more sympathies for extreme radicals - revolutionaries, even - because although they tend to be thick and deluded, they often have this sense of a universal well-being. Cameron wants to turn the clock forward, to a new time when slippery shysters can thrive and wallow in wealth without any accountability.

A K Haart said...

Sam - I agree - I tend to relish radicalism even if I disagree with it. At least it's something you can get to grips with rather than a nest of slippery shysters.

James Higham said...

Every change is a response to vested interests and intended to be permanent. There is no going back, no putting things right, no correcting obvious mistakes.

So very true.