With the full horror of Tuesday's budget not yet upon us, there is a last opportunity to wish that things were other than what they currently are. Let us try a little idealist analgesia before we have to swallow the bitter pill.
For a start I always welcome anything which reduces the size of the State. I confess it and do not repent it! Big states are the answer to big markets, not to big countries. And big markets are the fruit of a philosophy that declares goodness to be the fruit of 'bigger' or 'more'. That's the problem with any lie: it always has a good dose of truth in it. For bigger and more are sometimes 'good'; it's just that they do not exhaust the category.
So, I'm filled with glee at the prospect of any measure which sets about cutting the State down to size ... And yet, now that we're in this situation, I wonder what misery will result from these measures. And here, I speak not idealistically but with the clarity of a flee resting on a part of the body politic which is about to be scratched. I have always worked in the public sector. I work in education. I've been helping to drag up the yoof of this country for over ten years now. And, in my current sector of education, I and hundreds like me already cannot find jobs. So, what the heck are we going to do now? I speak merely for my constituency; I could speak for many others in the same place.
Well, of course one could take the Blarite view that all knowledge which falls short of a tangible measure of social and economic impact is necessarily icing on the cake. But is it? Here we go again: not the philosophy of better and more but the philosophy of the useful. I remember that wing-eared butter ball Charles Clarke asking a few years ago what the point of studying Medieval History was. A lot of people replied by asking what the point of Charles Clarke was. Others replied by declaring that the study of a corrupt poilitical landscape was an act of rebellion in an age of chronic spin.
But they were all wrong. The point of studying Medieval History is for itself and for the moral benefits that the study of history produces generally. Historia magister vitae. We should spend money on 'useless' things; because they remind us that humanity is for something more than wealth-producing, leisure-getting activity. They remind us that the optimum condition under which the country operates is not one in which the economy depends for its meat and drink on our work-a-day stress and our drink-sodden weekends.
Hmm, I'm off my point, to some extent, but the essence of it is this: 'bigger' (and the concomitantly profitable 'smaller', and 'more and more', and 'the useful' are concepts that will be at the heart of this Tuesday's budget.
And I take it we're all going to pay ... well, nearly all!