While many things in the eurozone are imponderables wrapped in a flexible concrete cover of uncertainty, some things never change. I’m told that two of the biggest sticking points in the haggling still going in Athens this afternoon between Yannis Stournaras and the Troika were (1) Civil service cuts and (2) legal profession deregulation.
The poor will always be with us. So too will lazy, inefficient and hopelessly muddled Mandarins and Legals. And just as the poor will put coal in the bath and X-Factor on the telly, so too the administrators will put rails in a different company to trains, and the lawyers will place ambulance-chaser ads on the telly. These are all idiotic actions, but then this is what idiots are prone to.
The one thing that will never change is that there will always be idiots.
Much of life is about taking account of the idiots. This was my father’s approach to driving: assume idiocy on the part of everyone else on the road. It was certainly my assumption about some of the clients with whom I dealt during the period 1969-2003. We used to have a retailer on this side of the Pond called Fine Fare, and my main client there was a former store-manager we called Turkey. He always wanted the prices bigger in the ads, perhaps because he seemed largely unaware that he had left store-managing behind some time ago.
We were once in the company’s enormously long and narrow boardroom. I showed him a press ad, and he proceeded to go to the far end, pin it to a wall-board, and then triumphantly ask, “Can you see the prices?”
“No,” I replied, “but then I don’t nail my newspaper to our apple-tree while sitting in the lounge”.
I promise sincerely that this is not designed to make me look clever. It is designed solely to illustrate the irrefutable reality of mass idiocy. That, and the fact that somehow the idiots (who are clearly in a minority) seem to land terrific jobs, float massive companies, and make grand entrances into Ten Downing Street and The White House.
David Cameron is a massively high-IQ chap, but at base camp he is an idiot….because he cannot grasp that saying one thing while doing another is profoundly unconvincing. Barack Obama is a stylish, well-educated and highly intelligent dude, but beyond the neat confines of his left frontal lobe he is an idiot….because he cannot grasp that lies about the economy, the deficit and unemployment will one day catch up with him.
The media are full of the buggers. A right-of-centre tabloid told website visitors today that David Cameron’s conference speech showed he had ‘discovered the true Tory within’. The BBC more sensibly pointed out, ‘It is extraordinary that seven years into his leadership of the Conservatives, Mr Cameron is still having to define himself and tell his party what he is about’. Quite.
And perhaps that’s what – via the B7029 to Chipping Sodbury – I’m coming to: for every unprincipled idiot, there are two moral sages.
Yes, I do still think that this is, give or take a pillock, the real quotient within the populace. The problem resides in the ability of one idiot to make more noise than 20 sages. The author of ‘empty vessels make the most noise’ has been lost in the mists of time, and that’s a shame. Even worse, however, there is no correlation between wisdom and ambition. And this, ladies and gentlemen, helps explain why an over-promoted, over-privileged, gobby idiot is now in charge of the Health Service, but a quietly-spoken Delphic Oracle like you isn’t.