I think we’ve reached a point where political party affiliation, or political leanings, doesn’t matter anymore. Right or left, Labour or conservative or even Liberal Democrat; it’s all moot. We let the Libertarians take charge, and now we all have to be Libertarian. Not because we agree with them, not because we want to, but because they leave us no choice. We are Libertarians by Default.
I think it started a few years back with David Cameron and his ‘Big Society.’ And, on the surface, it didn’t sound Libertarian. He waxed lyrical about communities coming together to provide what that community needs. Here’s the catch; people would provide services Voluntarily. Things like libraries and community centres would staffed by volunteers and funded by local fundraising, because the government wasn’t going to do it anymore. If you couldn’t raise the money or find the volunteers, obviously that service wasn’t of value to that community. They were letting the people decide.
Of course, at the same time they were pursuing a policy of Austerity, so people couldn’t donate because they had no money to spare; and couldn’t volunteer because they had to work two jobs to support a family.
At least then, they still put in the effort to appear caring. Compassionate Conservatism was the term. The veneer of compassion is gone now. The message from the government and corporations is ‘You’re on your own.’
Britain is facing a cold winter this year. We’ve already had a some major storms, lots of snow in the North and in Scotland, and London regularly threatened with enough snow to shut down the city (about 2 inches). It hasn’t happened yet, but it likely will. At the same time, Energy companies are in crisis, with nearly 30 companies folding in the last year. People are worried about heating their homes this winter. The Energy suppliers have offered some solutions; Cuddle your pets for warmth. If you don’t have a pet, try doing some star jumps. I wish I, or they, were joking.
This winter, many people are facing a basic and horrible choice; Heat or Eat? Let’s assume you’ve taken the energy company’s kind advice and are doing the star jumps to keep warm, you also have to be careful what you eat, as food suppliers are phasing out the ‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ dates on food. They say people should use the ‘Sniff Test.’ I have a couple of problems with this. First, I don’t always know what things are meant to smell like. If uncooked meat and poultry have any aroma at all, I will think they’ve gone off. Also, there’s this virus going around, you may have heard about it, where one of the main symptoms is loss of taste and smell.
And I think most people already use the sniff test and some common sense when it comes to food, but the Use By date was a good guideline. Eliminating them is just another way we’re on our own.
Boris Johnson’s government has had a policy of ‘Every man for himself’ from the beginning, starting with Brexit and it’s isolationist aims. But it’s been highlighted by the approach to the pandemic. The government has laid down rules, but there’s been no consequence for breaking them. Especially as it’s the government officials themselves who are breaking the rules. (Parties at 10 Downing St during lockdown, Dominic Cummings trip to Durham). Rules have been diluted to ‘guidelines.’ Work from home, if you can. Try to social distance and limit social activity, but don’t worry if you do go out, as there are no restrictions on the pubs and restaurants.
It’s up to each person to test regularly for covid, but you will have to buy your own tests, as the government is ending the free ones. But it’s your decision to test or not; to isolate or not. Ignoring the fact that it’s really a financial decision; Can I afford the tests, Can I afford to stay home from work and isolate? If the answer to the first question is no, the answer to the second question is also no. We will finally see a fall in the number of Covid cases, because fewer people will be testing. We will just have more inexplicably sick or dead people.
Even masks, which are legally required indoors, can be circumvented with the phrase “I have a medical exemption.” They are not required to provide ANY proof, like an NHS badge or a Doctor’s Certificate. They just have to say the magic words. And why would anyone lie about a thing like that.
It’s up to each person to decide, and if what they do is harmful to their own or the public’s health, it’s on them. You can’t blame Boris. Except you can blame him, because he does, technically (theoretically) have the power do something about it. To make rules and ENFORCE them. To make rules and follow them himself would also be good.
The worst part of this rise of Libertarianism is the government’s abandonment of the people. Corporations are going to do whatever they can to maximise profit. They really don’t have an obligation to care about society. That’s what the government is for; to protect society from the rampant greed of corporations. When the government cares more about protecting the corporations, or starts following their profit driven template, society starts to crumble.
Who protects the people from the rampant indifference of the government?
Right on the mark. And to the point.
Always a good read, already looking forward to seeing what you have to say next week after today’s PMQs.