Just a few miles of water, yet so different. Here, we calmly accept swingeing budget cuts in welfare and public services. Over the Channel, there are riots over the relatively small change to pension ages. Even from schoolchildren who frankly don’t know what they are rioting for.
Yet, we, in Britain, are facing much more hardship in trying to deal with the public sector deficit. And let’s just remember, lest we moan first and ask questions later, that what is proposed is to take us back to spending levels in 2006-7, when we were hardly on the breadline. So maybe we can do this.
In earlier times, we as a nation were less keen on quantitative easing – a practice which now has worldwide approval, judging from the numbers of governments that practice it. In 1142 Henry II, when finding that some of his officials had debased the coinage, castrated some and cut the hands off the others. Now, their descendants are applauded for helping us to continue to spend above our means. Henry understood that the coinage was the wealth of the country, and debasing it devalued everything that could be bought and sold using it. How did we forget?
How much can we easily do without if we had to I wonder? Why not try now, while you still have the choice, and see what you can do? Will the car last another year? Do you need two foreign holidays next year, remembering that Airline Passenger Duty has just gone up? Can we manage? Of course we can. Will some people suffer? Of course they will? Will it be fair – when a good chunk of the burden falls on an overblown benefits system – no, it won’t. But is there a better way? Doubtful, and can we really wait to find out?
I know the answer to that one. I’ve had to be the nasty man that has employees that they have lost their jobs because the company couldn’t carry on as it was. I’ve known that it doesn’t just affect them, but their families, their kids’ aspirations, their community. And I’ve probably cut too deep, and put too many people out of work. Better too deep, and reemploy later, because if I hadn’t, and cut too little, they would all have been put out of work later. And that I think is where we are now. So it will hurt – a bit for some, a lot for many. Better than a lot of suffering for many.
And on a more cheery note, we can always remember what the difference is between civilised mankind and the animals. The English Channel!