FOR more than a decade I had a reliable go-to destination for occasional R & R – Laughlin, a sun-drenched town of some 8,000 souls in southern Nevada.
On one occasion, the news in the local paper was dominated by a serious issue: The replacement of the sheriff’s ancient police car.
The community had polarised into three factions. The first considered the matter to be unworthy of debate; the community should just stump up for a brand new ‘black and white’ – about 85,000 dollars.
A second group thought this was sheer profligacy when scores of decent secondhand models were available from the Los Angeles Police Department, a few hours drive away.
A third faction, led by the local mechanic, protested that there was no need to replace the vehicle. Spare parts were readily available, so it could be maintained indefinitely.
It was tempting to write off this story as an example of small-town American parochialism. But it was hard to resist thinking about which faction I would have backed. Which made me realise that, unlike the UK, most American taxpayers have some influence as to how their local taxes are spent.
Prudence is built into the culture. A shiny new 85,000-dollar police car has to be paid for by local residents, of whom only a handful enjoy publicly-funded roles with guaranteed incomes. Hence all the sensitivity.
In contrast, it seems that the majority of UK taxpayers resemble a third-rate boxer who has been hit in the head too many times, or an economically illiterate moron who believes the Government has limitless supplies of gold bullion.
Many are Labour supporters, egged on by media pundits, who never think to question the incessant demands for ever more public spending.
Where on Earth do they think all the money comes from?
Not only has this government squandered hundreds of billions on a disastrous fear-based Covid strategy (one which so often required Labour support), but it has doubled down with its ruinous Net Zero energy policy, a woke Euro-centric policy reliant on the import of foreign gas supplies, of which Putin controls a significant share.
Now we are facing the inevitable economic consequences and, even without a destabilising war in Eastern Europe, it will be ugly and, I suspect, socially divisive. A triple whammy of record taxes, rising interest rates and probable double-digit inflation, which of course will hit the lowest-paid hardest.
The first rumbles of righteous resentment are already audible. Why should people who have worked incessantly throughout the past two years be expected to foot the enormous bill in the same way as all the millions who enjoyed a ‘good pandemic’?
These include the 11.7million who were ‘furloughed’ at a cost of some £70billion. Many will protest vehemently that they did not choose to be furloughed. True enough, but the fact remains that millions were paid to put their feet up in the sunshine while many others did not have that luxury.
Worse perhaps are the delights that the Covid policies bestowed on the Civil Service, much of the public sector and a significant proportion of the professional class – able to work comfortably from home on full pay without any financial pain.
If I was, say, a delivery driver or supermarket worker starting to lose sleep due to real financial hardship looming in the months ahead, this would leave a very sour taste in my mouth. Especially if I had a family to support and possibly with growing debts and little or no opportunity for discretionary spending.
Just over a year ago, I paid tribute in TCW Defending Freedom to Maureen Eames, an astute pensioner from Barnsley, who had the temerity to call out Johnson, Sunak et al with their feckless ‘we will do whatever it takes’ lockdown policy. Hard-headed Maureen made several excellent points. ‘Where is all the money coming from? Who is going to pay for it?’
Well, the bill is definitely in the post now. It remains to be seen whether the great British public are prepared to suck up all the pain stoically for many years ahead. Or whether there are going to be mass protests, widespread industrial action and social unrest right across the land.
I suspect that supine Starmer and foul-mouthed Rayner are likely to be the main political beneficiaries of this righteous anger.
All they will need are rosettes that read ‘NOT TORY!’ combined with a willingness to lie about their past enthusiasms for lockdowns, furlough and out-of-control spending – and that may well deliver a general election victory in 2024.
But without meaningful and very painful long-term reductions in public spending, I cannot see how any politician can deliver the country from this unprecedented and divisive economic mess.