As usual, I'm here to tell thee naught for thy comfort. At least nothing that will make your wallets feel better. Are you feeling yours? Mine's got an awful pinch. It wasn't helped by listening to the radio during my morning ablutions and hearing some twerp from the defeated Old Knuckleheaded Party ( Pat Ronisethepur) tell someone from the recently elected New Knuckleheaded Party (Hiram Ripemoff) that spending cuts would take money out of the economy. I might not be an economist, but it seems to me that for every pound the taxman leaves in the punters' pockets, that is not a pound taken out of the economy but a pound left in the economy (unless it's in the pocket of a man who leaves the economy).
We were then treated to the spectacle - or should that be oracle, since this is radio? - of a representative of the Unison trade union reminding Hiram Ripemoff of the New Knuckleheaded Party that cuts affect human beings. It was a point well made and one I felt myself concurring with wholeheartedly. But it seemed, however, to fall on stoney ground. And no wonder. After all, what is a human being, as my academic colleagues would ask (with all the confidence of hostages to fad-makers, struck down with Stockholm Syndrome)? Talk of human beings in the current climate is a bit like talk of goal lines: the boundaries are where the referee says they are. We are not human beings in this country. We are tax payers. Let us get that straight at least.
Still, Mr Unison's talk of human beings is not quite kosher. Scratch our humanist, who is laudably defending human dignity in a climate of spending cuts, and we'll probably find a man whose model of human behaviour embraces freedom of abortion, civil partnerships and all the panoply of liberal culture. And just how human is that?
I'm reminded of Chesterton's gargoyles Hugde and Grudge from What's Wrong with the World? Those in favour of freedom of capital tell us they know best. Those in favour of State provision tell us they know best. Both argue that the average punter will suffer if the opposing side's policies are followed. And, ultimately, the average punter is left in the middle wondering which way is up.
But of course neither way is up. Both ways are down. The pursuit of security through economic recovery or the provision of security through State provision (even when diluted with the benefits of champagne socialism) are both ideological substitutes for the sane, human and Christian relationship to wealth, wealth creation, education, and all the other services which charity compels us to perform for our fellow human beings.
But who is telling that tale in these times? And how will Pope Benedict's visit in a couple of months affect this monochrome picture, even with the coloured chalk of Newman, the Fathers and hermeneutics of continuity?
We have fished all night, Lord, and have caught nothing. But on your command we will let down the nets.