No smoky-drinky. Still frantically writing. I have an advantage in that the Bank Holiday means nobody's going to want anything until Tuesday (other than a certain American who isn't going to be on holiday).
Even so, I have to take a break once in a while. I'm almost human, you know.
The news is puzzling. In Italy, hordes of public sector workers are rampaging through the streets demanding to keep their jobs. It'll happen more and more in the coming weeks. Meanwhile the staff of British Airways are doing their best to destroy the company that employs them, thereby ensuring that their own jobs cease to exist. The only ones in either group who can be sure of continued employment are the union officials stirring it all up. It's no skin off their nose if their members are all made redundant. I know, from personal experience, that they will try to convince those members to stay members after redundancy. Union members - all they want is your money. Then they'll use you to score political points and if you lose your job as a result, well, that's too bad. Keep paying.
If you had a factory making pogo sticks, there was a time when you'd have done well. Pogo sticks were all the rage once (I didn't have one). They'd sell like hot cakes. You'd make money and take on more staff, maybe buy an extra lorry-load of springs...
Then, suddenly, nobody wants pogo sticks any more. Sales plummet, there's no income, and you have no option but to lay off staff until all you're left with is the guy who sweeps the floor and a big box of springs. You might consider a foray into Zebedee puppets but really, it's over. The money has run out, it's time to sell up and move on.
That's so simple it doesn't even deserve the term 'economics'. The economist answer might be different and more complicated but really, the simple truth is that if you make things nobody wants to buy, you'll go bust.
The socialist answer is to borrow more and more money so you can keep paying staff to do something nobody wants done. There will be no income as a result of their work, there will only be borrowed money to pay their wages. Eventually, those you have been borrowing from will notice that you are spending it all on idiotic products and they'll stop lending. Worse, they will start to demand that borrowed money back. And you don't have any.
That's pretty much where most of Europe seems to be now. Hordes of people paid to do non-productive things, in many cases things that nobody wants done. In some cases, things that everyone would prefer weren't done at all. Nobody wants bin inspectors or duck-feeder vigilantes or diversity outreach multiculti political correctness Newspeak banana-straightening operatives. Nobody wants to be spied on and ordered around.
We need an operating police force, a health service (a proper one, not the New-Labour one), fire service, army, navy, air force and so on. We don't need offices full of people whose only job is to say 'No' to anyone who phones up asking for anything. All those layers of management, all those park keepers with the powers of Judge Dredd, all those form-fillers and petty-rule-enforcers and all the rest, we don't need. We never did.
They were a luxury that a rich country could afford to waste money on. We are not a rich country. Hardly anyone in the West could claim that title now. We are broke and we can't afford the essentials, never mind the frills. When you can't afford to heat your house, are you really going to pay someone to paint it?
Most of what the government is doing, it shouldn't be doing anyway. Consider the NHS. If it all shut down, what would happen? Thousands of unemployed doctors and nurses? Not for long.
Private healthcare companies would soon snap them up, on better pay and conditions. Private healthcare costs would decline because they'd be competing for sixty million customers. The government could set up a much smaller NHS for those who really can't afford any healthcare insurance and that would not include anyone with a job. Anyone working is paying National Insurance and with no NHS, there's no longer a justification for this extra tax. Therefore, everyone working can afford to go private, leaving the new, smaller NHS to do what it was supposed to do - look after those who can't afford private medicine.
There would be few doctors and nurses left on the dole. There would be a hell of a lot of administrators, managers, five-a-day co-ordinators (we still have those even though 'five-a-day' has been proven to be based on nothing) and so on, queuing up with their UB40's. This would not result in the collapse of healthcare. It would result in a massive improvement.
Imagine being able to choose your healthcare provider. Imagine being able to choose the one that won't nag you about smoking, drinking, salt and fat and will instead get to the business of fixing whatever is wrong with you. Just like in the old days.
The fire service could be privatised because its activity is local. I'd pay a subscription to the service and if my house caught fire I could then call them out. Naturally, if I was staying at a hotel somewhere else, I'd check they subscribed to their local fire service before booking in. It's something everyone would pay for so the cost per person would be low. Even with exemptions for those below a set income level, the cost wouldn't be much because again, it would mean taking less tax.
Some things can't be privatised. The military, for example. We can't have a lot of private armies going around. That's dangerous. The police, also. On a local level, a privatised police force could work but what if you were mugged in a different town? Would the local police help if you're not a subscriber to their service?
The police need to be national so you can rely on them wherever you might be. I'd prefer the police were funded from taxation because that means they are (or should be) all following the same laws and aren't pandering to local preferences. Imagine passing through a posh part of town and being arrested and fined for not wearing a properly ironed suit. With privatised police, such absurdities could happen.
The fact remains, much of the infrastructure built up under socialist rule is not only unnecessary, it is completely worthless. So many jobs that achieve or produce nothing at all. If you're in one of those jobs, well, I'm afraid we can't afford you any more. There is no spare cash for fripperies.
Shouting in the street will achieve nothing. The government, your employer, is sitting in a room looking at a big box of springs. They cannot give you any more money because they have none. They cannot borrow more because the lenders have said 'No'. They could try taxing the rich more, but as Michael Caine once said, 'You can't tax anyone who can afford the air fare'. He was right. Crank up the tax on people with loads of money and they will sell up and move abroad.
Socialists will cheer at the exodus, because they are insane. Those rich people are the ones who run businesses. The ones who pay massive amounts into the tax system.
The ones who employ people.
When they leave, the taxes and the jobs go with them. Then there is even less to pay all those public sector jobs. What next? Tax all workers harder? More private sector workers will go because the tax they now pay is crippling.
Eventually all you have is public sector, producing nothing, paying its own wages out of taxation and demanding higher wages while the tax rate rises in a futile attempt to reach parity with the costs, which can never happen.
The public sector will lose a lot of jobs. It has to happen. It was always going to happen because paying out more than you take in is not a sustainable business model. It was all a big Brown illusion.
So parade if you like, shout if it makes you feel better but it is not going to change a thing. There is no more money. None.