Yesterday the tyrant Mugabe was forced to resign his presidency of Zimbabwe and today Mladic the Serbian genocidal leader was consigned to a remaining life behind bars after behaving abominably in court. Two good results for world justice. There’s still much to do but it is encouraging that there is still a mechanism in world affairs to tackle such matters. Whatever Brexit brings we should always support the International Court of Human Rights.
Back home, in the political world, it was Philip Hammond’s day. His Autumn budget statement had lots of content but it made some moves to address some of the stress areas in the economy and our social structure. First time home buyers received a filip, the building industry also, tax allowances increased, universal credit was given an additional budget to sort out its waiting time problems and pledges to increase funding for the NHS and Brexit ‘no deal’ infrastructure were welcome. But - no relaxation of public sector pay capping and a forecast of lower economic growth cast a shadow of gloominess over the presentation. Hammond - not my favourite politician by any means - had little room for manoeuvre - he’s facing a low tax take and the prospect of having to fork out a very large sum to advance the Brexit talks - which all points to him having to go begging to international credit sources and borrow more and consequently increase our deficit and national debt.
There isn’t a panacea in any budget declaration. It cannot help everyone and we have become accustomed to wanting something for everyone - but that is naive. Our culture, our society has become tuned into an expectation of wanting everything it wants instantly but the reality is that the public, business and institutions need to take on some responsibility themselves and adapt their lifestyles, investment decisions and efficiencies to accept that there is risk in everything. It is not the government’s responsibility to hand on a plate everything the public wants, or what business wants or what vested interest groups want. We all have to weigh up risk in our lives and make decisions. The government of any democratic state is not there to eradicate risk or even failure, it is there to provide a political and societal framework within which we can take on those risks and decisions ourselves. In short, our way of life - both privately and corporately - has become soft and mollycoddled with high expectation of guarantees and assurances across the board. Life doesn’t work like that for long. We all, as individuals or businesses, need to accept risk as a characteristic of our civil responsibility and get on with making choices and decisions that are not underwritten by the government.
I’m no great supporter of either the present government or any other ‘in the wings’ contenders but I am sure that we have, as a nation, become less productive, less efficient and less content by virtue of these false expectations in what others will do for us. Let us all get real, some things we have to do for ourselves.