Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Monday, 1 August 2011

The greatest con trick in history.

BARACK Obama has wangled a last-minute deal to save the US economy and, by extension, that of the rest of the world.

Although the richest nation on Earth was going to go bust on Wednesday - unable to pay for its soldiers, civil servants, schools and countless other things - he managed to get an agreement to extend its debt in return for spending cuts.

The US debt ceiling is already at $14.3trillion, or in proper money £8,736,300,000,000. So that's a bit like me having massive negative equity on my house yet somehow convincing the bank to lend me more money in return for spending slightly less on shoes.

Obama did it because there's elections next year, and if he didn't the other side would get in. Fair enough because no-one in their right mind wants Sarah Palin in charge of plastic cutlery, much less a superpower.

Meanwhile the US government has just $73billion cash in hand, whereas computer company Apple has $76bn. But that's fine, because I already thought Steve Jobs was running the world anyway.

And here in the UK our debt is forecast to hit £1.1trillion this year. Neither Dishface and Gideon, or Miliminor and Ed Ballsitup, have any idea what to do about that.

Well, here's a clue because there is one country where the economy is booming. Growth is forecast to hit 2.3% this year, the deficit turned out to be lower than expected and inward foreign investment is up. There will have to be some spending cuts and national debt is high, but day-to-day Belgium is ticking along quite nicely thank you.

Yet for 414 days they have had no government. A coalition collapsed last April and since then the civil servants have quietly gone about their business and been quite good at it, freed from new legislation and taxes and election-winning stunts. They've chaired the presidency of the EU and helped out in the bombing of Libya and nothing's gone too wrong.

Do you remember the general election last year? No government for five days while politicians did their deals for a coalition, and actually not much governing going on for the six weeks before that because they were campaigning. There was no looting, everyone paid their taxes, and no-one much minded that the Queen was in charge of everything for the first time since 1642.

So that means it must be the politicians making a mess of everything. Who'da thunk it?

I take my hat off to them. I always thought Parliamentarians were pretty dense, mostly fat windbags of not much use. Turns out it's all a ruse and they have very cleverly persuaded us we need them - while charging us £136m a year in salaries and expenses. We even give them a subsidised bar.

It's actually sort of impressive, if by impressive you mean 'wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire'.

"The correct position of a journalist to a politician is that of a dog to a lamp-post." 
H.L. Mencken