THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Of sheep and cyclists
Of petrol, pasties and the rape of Liberty

Of sheep and distemper

From comments to my previous post, some readers seem to think I am pessimistic and gloomy - even 'distempered'. Not so. Despite my personal sadness about losing my wife, I am generally quite happy and optimistic. I certainly don't share many commenters' fears about the decline of the West, for example, but more of that in some future post.

It has even been suggested that I might be happier living elsewhere. Perhaps so. I lived abroad for 20 years and have no fear of the cosmopolitan life. I am quite good at it, actually. I can certainly cope with (if never quite master) foreign languages and have friends in lots of interesting places. I am also curious about other societies and how they work (or, often, don't). However, I promised the late Mrs P I would live in London to be near our daughters. They are fine, independent young women and don't need me much, but it's a joy to see them often, so I am happy to keep my word.

I admit I am gloomy about Britain's civil liberties (many little-read posts passim) and her economic prospects. All the more so because I am seeing up close and personal the deadening effects of envy-driven taxation to fund an out-of-control payroll vote. I worked hard for 30 years, built businesses and created jobs. I am ready to get back to my life now and looking about myself for something to do, but here's the rub. If I go back to serious work, the government would keep half of what I earned, a big chunk of what I spend (in indirect taxes), half of whatever interest I earn on what I don't spend and then keep half of whatever is left when I die. That's really quite absurd. So I am just looking about for odds and ends of paid amusement to keep my brain ticking over, my bills paid and to contribute to the fund for my next car. My (much discouraged by the government) love of motoring is, amusingly, the only counterbalance to its relentless campaign to persuade me to relax.

Nor am I alone. Other members of my family have closed their businesses rather than work most of their time for the government gangsters. They are planning to spend their savings steadily so as to leave as little as possible to be stolen from their families when they die. Better use the money to have fun with them now, they reason, than to have it stolen from them later and (mostly) wasted. Atlas has shrugged already, because (a) this "Conservative" and "Liberal" government confuses corporatism with capitalism and (b) the Labour Party is waiting in the wings to douse the economic flames even more vigorously.

Britain is not 'open for business'. Every action of government (as opposed to its irrelevant utterances) screams that Britain hates business, or at least the successful kind. George Osborne may find tax avoidance 'morally repugnant' (as does any gangster denied his protection money) but the simplest form of it is to work less and - unless he is prepared to expose himself to even his most ovine voters as a slave driver - there ain't a damn thing he can do about that.

Someone asked a famous scientist what he had learned about God from his work. He answered "He really seems to like beetles." If we ask ourselves what we have learned about the British Government, the answer must surely be "It really seems to love idleness."

I have never been an idler before, but I can get used to it. I am happily planning trips to Scotland and Italy (two this year, for 'pilot' training on Ferrari's test track). There are books I want to read, people and places I want to visit and courses I want to take. So please don't confuse my concern about my country's future with unhappiness about my own. If relaxation after 30 years of effort palls, there are always Big Society things I can do to keep me amused without feeding the tax dragon.


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I am optimistic about the West, economically, James because we are going through the best time in human history. 300 million people came out of poverty in China alone in the last 10 years. There are more than a billion more to go! Similar progress is being achieved in other "growth economies" in the BRICS and beyond. That means our political influence will decline. That's fine by me, our time is over. But Switzerland and Luxembourg have no political influence - and they are still richer than us (and than America).

The demography of this is marvelous. We can (if we stop agonising about our loss of political clout and just get on with it) get richer than ever selling goods and services to the newly-unpoor (and a few newly rich) in these countries. So apart from the sheer joy of humanity emerging from poverty faster than ever before (thanks to the capitalism that the idiot readers of the Guardian tell us isn't working) we can also glory selfishly in new opportunities for trade.

What's not to be optimistic about, at that macro level. Where I am pessimistic is about specific issues - like the British public not caring about civil liberties - and therefore losing them at a rate of knots. Or the massive debts incurred by a largely unfunded Welfare State in Britain (and some other Western countries - but not all). There is more pain to go in that respect, sadly. But the future is still bright. I thought myself lucky to have a career in the glorious post-communist times after the fall of the Wall. I think my daughters will have careers in even more exciting times!

SIPP investment

Awesome post. What about living for awhile in a warm climate with no tax and a healthy respect for free enterprise. Maybe Dubai?


Some things reward in the short term and destroy in the long term. The UK and other western Governments are a bit like a crack addicts.

Labour scrabbling in the dirt for their next fix and willing to break open the kiddies christmas fund to pay for it. Conservatives are muttering to themselves that they really must cut down.

They have conditioned a whole bunch of people to put everything in their hands. "The government ought to do something about..."

Maybe the tide will turn, or maybe we will become some other civilisation's history. Maybe there will be some 'sustainable' (moribund and static) thing like old China. Or some horrible islamic theocracy like Iran over the whole world... maybe...

james higham

You say you're not pessimistic about the west and then you say, Tom:

Nor am I alone. Other members of my family have closed their businesses rather than work most of their time for the government gangsters.

That is where we're going. I don't call it pessimistic, I call it realistic.


Well we will have to agree to disagree about music, where I think the standards have dropped the most, almost to a primitive banging a bone on a hollow stump irrhythmically.

As to political thought, I find there is far too much, but very little action based on that thought.

Amongst other shortcomings in the West is a lack of able managers who can carry-out a course of agreed action in a timely manner while maintaining a budget.


Whilst I agree with the general tone of your comment, I'm not sure that there aren't some good and original artists and musicians around.

With regard to political thought, like science, once the truth has been revealed by one person, it cannot be re-revealed. What does need to happen is that the truth needs to be emphasised over and over again-because it is forgotten (which is the intent of our rulers presumably).


I consider the time invested in my previous post well invested, the old Tom is back. I had feared he left when I read "I occasionally try to exert myself with my old enthusiasm, but it's gone. There's no denying it."
For the avoidance of doubt, my use of the old english word distemper was in the context of the meaning- ill humour or testiness- which a re-read of the previous article concerning cyclists I think is accurate.
Now Tom's rebuttal of my suggestions are cogent, he obviously enjoys the company of his daughters and the use of his vehicle as a means of enjoyment. However I believe he makes my point when he relates that it is necessary to travel to Scotland and Italy to fully enjoy the Ferrari, and the political situation in yUK is so bad that he would not consider investing his savings in any new venture. Effectively though he does not say it-he has gone "Galt". Readers of "Atlas Shrugged" will be aware of the concept where successful entrepreneurs remove themselves and their assets from the governments reach. Tom confirms this, and indeed in my own small way I have the done the same to the extent possible. And thus my comment that we are witnessing a downward trend into mediocrity of western civilization. There are no great painters today, or musicians, no great engineering or architecture, no great thinkers (name me a modern day Thomas Paine?-an Essex boy after all). Politicians cannot even maintain a simple annual budget let alone run an empire, civil standards are returning to the barbaric, once cured diseases are re-appearing, the great invention of the nineteenth century-electricity will soon be in desperate shortage due to politicians worshipping at the altar of gaia, scientific standards (surely an oxymoron) are risible. Those are but a few examples, meanwhile your politicians fuss with gay "marriage" as though the dictionary did not adequately define marriage, the speaker, the archbishop of Canterbury, the prime minister and the president of the United States, once positions demanding respect are all occupied by buffoons occupying their minds with trivialities.
I welcome Tom Paine back, and long may he ignore ridiculous speed limits while driving well within the limits of safety in his automobile. Small but significant rejection of the nanny state should be exercised every day, reject your imbecilic political class.

David Davis

We won't manage the Osborne "St-Paulian conversion" referred to above. We are now at the point where, to avert civilisational disaster, a revolution, the tru kind, a turning back (which is what it means) needs to be done.

I don't know how we shall do one, for there are not enough people left who care who could make a difference, and also those who are left have no guns. Today's "British police" will fire on us without a moment's hesitation (they have been recruited recently and schooled now to do so, and were castigated last summer in the "riots" for no so doing, so they won't make the same booboo again) and the Army is being a Police force in several foreign countries in which we have no interest, even if one could rely on it, which is increasingly doubtful.


Trooper Thompson

I'd really like to tie Osborne down and get him to make an ethical justification of taxation. Whether or not a purely voluntary society is realisable, we should not forget that taxation is no more than a legal version of robbery at gunpoint. Keeping this in mind, we will not waste time trying to think of making taxation 'neutral', let alone just, or as our playground politicians say 'fair', and instead we can concentrate on slashing it across the board.

Not that such endeavours will gain much traction with the parasitical class, of which Osborne is one, who feed upon the stolen loot.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your leisure.

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