Monday, 30 September 2013

Bread and circuses

Panem et circense. Juvenal said it first.

Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses

The modern equivalent? "Energy price freezes" and "Help to Buy" for the bread; TV for the circuses.

The energy price freeze will have two main effects. On energy prices, energy companies will put them up ahead for the freeze, and raise them again afterwards. On everything else -note that suddenly in the UK, a company thinking of investing here can't rely on being able to seel their products at the price that they think is right.

Help to Buy, of course, will mostly benefit the rich at the expense of the poor; the main effect will be to push house prices up.

The trouble is, it's extremely difficult for governments to do the right thing, which is, in most cases, to do nothing at all. The people have a problem, so government is expected to fix it. And when (as is nearly always the case) they can't, then instead they do something that looks like it might fix it, but which usually, because of the overwhelming effect of the side effects, actually makes things worse.

And I'm not going to discuss the quality of TV, because I'm not qualified to do so. I read "Heart Throb" by Ben Elton recently (recommended) which is a vicious satire on, I think, X Factor, or maybe on Come Dancing, or possibly another of the "talent" contests that I've never watched, and I was unable to appreciate much of it because I'm so totally ignorant of this kind of thing.


  1. Wise words, well spoken. Who needs help to buy a £600K house! Not a first time buyer!! And, Although I'm not sure of my political views, let alone yours, how can Our grand PM say HTB Wont push up house prices, when you and I know it will!! And I voted this bloke in!!! If you and I go through a rough patch, well, actually I mean me, we buckle up and stop spending, or I work out how to cut my energy bills, by putting on two jumpers, a tee shirt and holding a hot water bottle. But the govt. comes along and tries to encourage me to go against this sage advice and be reckless again !

  2. I made good use of my hot water bottle when my leg was hurting. I asked the doctor, and he said, apply cold to reduce swelling when the injury first happens, apply heat thereafter to promote blood flow and encourage healing. Several hot water bottles later ... I'm cured!