THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Bad law corrupts
Merry Christmas

In the deep mid-winter

Cranmer: Where is Lord Adonis?.

I am far too jolly to blog. My new job is going to be fun. It has taken a year to set up the venture I am going to head and my sense of achievement is deliciously combined with the glow of new challenges ahead (and the anticipation of Christmas cheer before it all kicks off). Perhaps I may even hope in 2010 for:

...the stern joy which warriors feel, In foemen worthy of their steel.

Time will tell. Certainly Shanghai seems a great place to live. My new home is splendid. I have been welcomed warmly, enjoying warm Canadian hospitality at my neighbour's Christmas Party on only my second night. Now I am off again to spend Christmas and New Year with my family in England. I am looking forward to it as I used to when a boy. Last year's Christmas was not cancelled exactly, but - with Mrs P. recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness - it was certainly muted. This year, the threat dodged (d.v.) we Paines are determined to make merry.

I found myself walking down West Nanjing Road today whistling a happy tune. I know that doesn't sound like the disgruntled, middle-aged libertarian you know, if not love. Bear with me, I am sure it will pass.

It's hard not to laugh, in such a mood, at the climate chaos in England, but there is a serious point. Pace those fools for whom the state can do no wrong, it is incompetence that has the country on its knees, not Mother Nature. For all the decades of my father's career in construction, the local authority had a deal with contractors that, in return for modest standby payments, they would agree to deploy their men and equipment to clear the roads when harsh weather struck. This saved the state the cost of maintaining heavy machinery that would stand idle most of the time. It provided supplemental income to local businesses (just when the weather prevented them from doing their usual work). In short it was sensible, practical and cheap. It was also an informal public-private partnership before that concept was lawyered to death.

The Health & Safety culture has put a stop to that. Untrained amateurs (i.e. the tough guys driving the trucks and diggers and manfully wielding the shovels) engaged in such operations might get hurt. If they got hurt, they might sue. Only operatives specifically employed and trained for such activities can now carry them out. So only designated workers using specialised equipment can clear the roads. It's far too costly to maintain fleets of equipment for such occasional deployment. So the economy grinds to a slushy halt. At a cost in GDP which (impoverished as we already are) we must try not to think about.

The only fools bigger than the fools running our country are the fools who voted for them. Except perhaps for those bigger fools who couldn't be bothered to vote at all because "it doesn't matter." Yes it does. These idiots are in charge because you idiots allowed it.

I may seem to have blogged the spring from my step and the song from my lips, but not really. I am jolly still and looking forward to my flight home. Ten or more hours in the air lie ahead and a man must sleep, so this may be the moment to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. Unlikely though it may seem with such clowns in charge (and clowns with different costumes warming up in the wings) I hope you also have a prosperous new year.

If you have been, thanks for reading. My blogging this year may have done nothing to aid Mrs P's recovery, but it has helped to preserve my sanity. Thanks for the therapy and here's to better times ahead for all - except those clowns.