Greetings to you all: obedient minions of a despotic state or, depending on your perspective, enlightened citizens of a beneficent democracy. It has been some time since we, the government, have decided to speak to you, the people, through the medium of this blog. This is not because we’re either too busy or couldn’t be (to use your streetwise vernacular) ‘be arsed’ to keep it up. Oh no. It’s just that we thought that with the various expenses scandals and elections going on, you may have had enough of political machinations (and other eighties bands) for a while.
Many of you will now be asking: “How come, if we’ve had a new government for the last couple of years, that this blog-based communication seems to be written by the same person as before the election?” This is most observant of you and, rest assured, your perspicacity has immediately marked you as someone to watch. And possibly assassinate soon. Not that we do that. Ahem.
Many of you may have formed the impression, under the previous administration, that social well-being was being put second to the Machiavellian schemings of a shady group of worryingly right-wing figures held in thrall to the interests of the rich and influential. Now of course, we have a Conservative led coalition and several key features of the previous arrangement will be scrutinised and very possibly presented in a slightly different light. Oh yes.
However, we write today not to assure you that it’s business as normal in government but to give some advice about basic fiscal responsibility. Times are hard and we are in a period of austerity that will profoundly affect us all. You, the people, will naturally find it difficult to find a respectable place to live, to feed and clothe your children and to continue to lead lives comforted by the most basic amenities whilst we, the government, will find it increasingly difficult to disguise our burgeoning portfolios of multiple properties, private health care, well-stocked pantries and helicopters. We are sure that you, the public, can fully appreciate the strain that this can put one under.
So we must all pull together to save money where we can. This, however, is a very different process for people and governments.
For example, should your driveway require resurfacing, you, the public, would be ill-advised to hand over a big brown envelope full of cash to a shifty looking geezer who turned up at your door and then wait while he failed completely to do any work on your drive.
This differs from governmental policy for resurfacing roads; which is to hand over a much larger envelope full of cash (provided by you, the public) to a shifty looking civil engineering firm who sent a shiftier-looking lobbyist to the door. They then hand some of that cash (that part that hasn’t been creamed off to pay shareholders and directors’ bonuses) to a shifty-looking subcontractor who cones of thousands of miles of the roads in question and fails completely to do any work on them. A small part of that money will in time be diverted to pay the shifty looking geezers who have previously turned up at your door to stay well away from your driveway and instead stand around in small gangs in the cones at intervals of roughly six miles to smoke roll-ups, read the Daily Star, snooze in the cabs of lorries or, on particularly hard-working days, peer disinterestedly into holes in the road whilst scratching themselves and failing completely to do any work on the roads.
You, the public, will be relieved, we are sure, to notice that this policy is still being vigorously pursued: you can drive through literally thousands of miles of coned off road works and we are confident that you won’t see more than two or three people actually working on any given day. This is good for something that we call ‘the economy’, which is a complex system for taking money from you, the public, and giving it to fat men in Jaguars who went to Oxford with us, the government in a process that we call ‘generating wealth’. And for us, it certainly does. Jolly good.
As a second example, it is generally good practice for you, the public, to try to keep yourselves healthy. Thus we, the government, will plough literally thousands of pounds a year into condescending television advertisements and inconsistent, obfuscatory food labelling regulations to warn you that products like doughnuts, lard and fat are high in fat. Many of you might think that it would be logical to tax unhealthy food products more highly, to encourage food producers to offer more healthy alternatives and you, the public, to cook things like vegetables (instead of behaving like them). This, however, does not generate wealth, which we think that we’re all agreed is jolly important, because the profit margins on processed, unhealthy foodstuffs are far higher than on carrots, which we’re led to believe that people could simply grow for themselves if we allowed them to own land – so you can see why we can’t be having that. As well as generating wealth, the production of a generation of morbidly obese citizens has the added effect of providing stimulating work for our country’s underworked health professionals and ties up hours of appointment time that would otherwise have to be spent with people who have contracted genuine, non-preventable diseases. These diseases are most commonly suffered by people who have got out of their armchairs for long enough to go out and engage with the world and the longer we can keep the likes of them quiet, the better.
As an added bonus, the morbidly obese are usually too unfit to take part in large scale social unrest or, as some eccentrics insist on calling it, democratic protest.
Finally, many of you may be thinking that the several hundred pounds per year per head spent on your children’s education is doing precious little to turn them into articulate, free-thinking citizens of the future. You may be wondering if you’d get better value by educating your children yourself and demanding a commensurate rebate in taxes. This is a very bad idea. This country already has a fine system of private education from which many of our most celebrated (until they’re caught with sticky fingers in tills, rent boys etc.) politicians hail. This may be monstrously expensive but this does help to maintain the staus quo, oops, I mean, stability so important to this country by keeping out the riff-raff – ie, the likes of you. Just imagine the chaos caused by free-thinking individuals from all walks of life attempting thoughtful political intervention – we’d never get anything done and the flow of cash from poor to rich, which we call ‘the economy’ would be severely disrupted. Thus the value of education needs to be carefully controlled.
So, as you can see, though many of you, the people, may think that it would be a good thing to have money, a dignified place to live, healthcare and a government that doesn’t actively undermine its own campaigns, it is clear that we, the government, need your money – not simply so that we can, to use your charming street vernacular again, ‘live it large’, but also so that we can continue to deploy those funds to keep you ill, snarled in traffic, poorly-educated and generally too busy to scrutinise your government, thereby minimising trouble. And we don’t want trouble, do we? No indeed.
So, to summarise, by far the most important thing that you can do to ‘save money’ money is to hand as much of it as possible over to us, the government, and rest assured that we’re using it well. If you find, after this process, that you have a little extra cash, you should use it to buy frivolous nonsense from hideously wealthy friends of ours who will pass some of it on to us in return for tax breaks, beneficial legal precedents and turning a blind eye to child labour, pollution and the occasional minor genocide. If you can’t afford to do this, then you should borrow. After all, what can go wrong when you borrow money? You must speculate to accumulate, as the saying goes, so it follows that the best way to save money is to spend it.
With this resumption of normal economic activity we’ll soon have everything back on track and humming like a well-oiled machine, such as a weapon of mass destruction which we can sell to a lunatic dictator, thus generating low paid jobs for you, the public, and great wealth for us, the government. See how it works? Lovely. Now, don’t you have a cheque that you should be writing?