Sunday 19 September 2010

The Proms, Jerusalem and England's Green and Pleasant Land

In Britain, every September, there is a Last Night of the Proms - the end of the summer season of promenade concerts of classical music - and the tradition is to play Hubert Parry's 'Jerusalem', a setting of William Blake's poem. It is now something like an unofficial British national anthem. The poem speaks of

I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
'Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land

With an inversion - and bearing in mind, to put it mildly, the tensions and troubles in the Jerusalem of the Middle East - bearing also in mind the famed toleration of Britain - a radical muse would be that of Britain, ideally as a secular state, retrieving some authority over Jerusalem, providing a relaxed and easy home for Jews, Christians and Muslims, to
whom the city means so much, building indeed a Jerusalem of peace.

And, if we would like to speculate further, let that city in the Middle East be part of Engl
and's green and pleasant land.

True, few may support this wild speculative idea....
but wild speculative ideas may be required.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Whose money

There is much ministerial and public indignation - understandably so - at public bodies having wild and extravagant expense accounts, with higher management being taken on luxurious jaunts, staying at five-star hotels - and often receiving large salaries and larger bonuses. After all, the money is 'taxpayers' money'.

The same indignation is rightly held when confronted with certain bankers and investment managers receiving large bonuses and pay-offs.

Curiously, though, the vast number of commercial bodies escape censure. Yet, of course, many large businesses cover the expenses of directors and upper management, expenses when staying in the top hotels, taking lavish meals, travelling in luxury. Why the difference in attitude?

'Ah,' it may be said, 'the money being spent is not taxpayers' money.'

But, hold on, where does the money come from? Well, from consumers - and much of the consumption, in practice, is not optional. Further, many, many consumers are far less well-off than those with their large expenses - indirectlly being paid by - those consumers.