Breakfast in the Ruins
On ITV and BBC they talk about the curse
Philosophy is useless; Theology is worse
History boils over there’s an Economics freeze
Sociologists invent words that mean — industrial disease
– Dire Straits, Industrial Disease
Don’t know whats up with me, I mean here I am witnessing the global economic meltdown I have been prophesying for nearly a decade, and feeling completely exonerated on my prediction that the house price spiral was an inflationary bubble based solely on the availability of cheap and under secured credit. I argued about this with Axel a couple of years ago when he was last in England – now I have been thoroughly vindicated, and as the Jones come crashing down to my level (and there is plenty of room in the underclass – always room for one more!) I find it hard to gain any pleasure in seeing others ruin. I must lack a healthy sense of Schadenfreude – I seem unable to gain much delight or satisfaction in being right.
I’m watching the economic bail outs with wry amusement – “capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich” as someone said – I wonder if Thatcher had thrown this kind of money at subsidizing the miners here in the UK what would have happened? Of course pits closed in the 80’s as unproductive are now productive again, as price changes make the market economy driven policies of the 80’s look as short sighted as ever.
0.5% interest rate? Great if you have mountains of debt or a mortgage, but for someone like me with neither it means absolutely nothing. A bail out for middle class home owners, and working class home owners – but of course anyone who owns a house is middle class these days, right? For tenants who have tried to save (with no luck – I own about a fiver in the world right now) and who have no credit cards, no overdrafts, no hire purchase agreements and hence no real credit history and no chance of ever getting one, well what’s so great about a cut in interest rates? It punishes savers and the very rich, and rewards those who have homes with mortgages -which is good if they can then spend us all back to prosperity.
To me – it makes not an iota of difference. Cheese on toast, yesterday, today, and forever.
The Universities Get Away With it
Still good news is university applications are up again. I was constantly astonished through the 90’s when the expansion of the universities continued, with larger and larger student intakes and more and more investment in teaching facilities and buildings (and amusingly in houses in the buy-for-rent market aimed at student housing) while a clear disaster loomed. The University of Gloucestershire probably faced the disaster early – they had about 50% mature students, meaning over-21 in the case of that institution, but once they had run out of people who missed out on the chance to do their degree in the 80s, mothers thinking of returning to work and people wanting to retrain and who lived within 50 miles of the campuses, well they were going to face declining numbers and need more of the 18-21 years olds who drunkenly riot most night of the week through the towns. Yet they continued to build and plan for expansion. So why was this a move of astonishing confidence?
Demographics. The baby boom years have ended, and there are significantly less people in the 18-21 year old generation than there were a few years back, and its going to get less (Which is just as well, as the Daily Mail or somesuch today claimed they were all lying thieving murderous vagabonds or the like, something I might have taken seriously if it were not the Daily Mail. Perhaps my joking endorsement of slaughtering teenagers and putting their heads on pikes last week was really a prescient sound policy for a happy Britain? :))
So in the face of the fact they knew they were going to have less 18-21 year olds, and have known for, well 18-21 years, the continued expansion of the universities struck me as, well, dumb. Fortunately the economy is now so far down the pan that they have got away with it – not cos of pesky kids, but because no 18-21 year old alive stands the slightest chance of getting a job this side of old age pension, or so it seems, so they might as well get some nice qualifications as they prepare for their life on the scrap heap of society. A bit in fact like the generation who graduated in the last downturn, like, well me. By the time things pick up you are a few years out of uni, and the uni leaver jobs go to the bright shiny career fair kiddies, while you crumble on housing benefit and a series of non-degree level appointments, or worse, try to make it as a jobbing academic.
As someone who tried it my advice is take the HB and JSA route. Sure you will go mad, but it will be less frustrating and miserable to just resign yourself to defeat now than actually strive and fail. If you are one of the class of 2009, honestly, look at a few people in their late thirties who graduated circa ’91/’92. Grab some donuts, take a Homer Simpson attitude and resign yourself now. “There’s no future/In England’s dreaming” as the Sex Pistols put it.
OK, I’m joking, but it will be tough. Some will make it. Work hard, don’t get drunk and throw up on my doorstep, and hell I might even spare you some loose change if I myself ever get a decent job again!
“He wrote me a prescription he said you are depressed”
So I’m depressed it seems. Well why not as the whole country hurtles head long in to a different kind of depression? In my case I have spotted the symptoms, and I’m lucky in that a week or two of prescribed pills usually kicks my brain chemistry back in to order – in about a tenth of the time that antidepressants would take to work. I can’t be bothered with any at the moment, but I have noticed that my utter misery and annoyance at my bike turning out to be a disaster is way outside the norm, so I’ll go see the quack if I keep getting worse. I knew the gears were so bashed they were interlocked and it only worked in 4th, but I replaced the inner tubes, fixed the brakes, sorted the chain and then next day found the spokes had gone straight through the new inner tube. Bike shop bloke says would cost more to repair than to get another bike, so I went home and became thoroughly miserable, swelling on it in an unhealthy way.
Not like me – so I worked out I’m getting down – well that and my seeming inability to eat or sleep or concentrate, and the fact I feel like everyone is picking on me. Bah! Unfortunately the pc Andrew gave me has stopped working at all – well I’m not sure if it ever did, the monitor works but the power supply unit appears to be dead, as nothing at all. Hey I still have this one to work on…
Maybe the misery over the bike was not really misplaced – I foolishly spent all my disposable income for the month on fixing it up, only to find next day it was broken beyond repair. I think that might upset most people – it’s juts in most peoples cases it’s cars which form the black hole that eats their money. So I’m eating cheese on toast – Richard gave me some M&S ready meals but they were a couple of week past their freezer life and have long since waved farewell to their sell by, and so that was a disappointment – but I can’t help feeling my response was disproportionate.
Becky sent me an Amazon certificate, so I could get some books for the a PHD bursary I probably can’t go for, well I can but I’m not sure it’s practical but I may as well try — and it turned out my Blueyonder email had been down since February 16th, so it is lost, and she has to chase it up with them and is really annoyed. I’m just having one of those weeks – by no means as bad as my worst ever, which I will moan about one day -that is a rather splendid black comedy actually of cancer, betrayal, houses burning down, houses flooding, houses falling down, bereaved and arrested friends and bizarre messages seemingly from beyond the grave. Yes, it is blackly comic, but compared with that week of my life, back in the late nineties, anything looks good!
Anyway, I have moped enough for one day. I shall go and lie down and have a rest, then return to the work I have been struggling with all day, that will lead to recompense at some distant date, sadly not this year. Another warning for any bright eyed graduates out there – if anyone suggests freelancing or writing as a career, just shoot them.
A brief flicker of light
Councillor Paul Wheeldon ran a charity pub quiz last night at The Cotswolds, and I saw some of the celebrations and the raffle. With the generous support of blonde Lisa the barmaid, Fowzi and Sandra who own the pub and the punters Paul raised £300 for a hospital in West Africa – bloody good news, and we must not forget Paul gave up a days income himself to do this. I rarely say this, but bloody well done Paul!