How do these things happen? You turn your back for 5 minutes and just because the odd bank has fallen over people decide to raise up again two of the more scabrous ideas from the horrors of human history. What is it about testing times that makes people suggest that we give up civilisation?
The first of these little things is the fuss over the pension arrangements for Sir Fred Goodwin. Yes, it's a huge pension, yes he was at the helm when the bank ran aground and no, I'm not all that chuffed with the idea that he'll get just shy of £700,000 a year for life either. But it is a contract. Perhaps it's a contract that shouldn't have been signed, that we wish hadn't been signed, that if there's a legal loophole in it we might exploit such, but as matters stand as I write it's a legal contract which was, amongst others along the way, signed off by a Government Minister.
To repudiate it because the populace, or the more populist of the votestealers in Parliament, desire such is simply the rule of the mob. The antithesis of one of the things that makes up civilisation, the rule of law, the sanctity of contract, call it what you will. We are not and should not be ruled by the whims of men but by the arrangements which we have signed up to beforehand and if we regress from that to doing whatever tricks the jeering crowd would call for inbetween their Hogarthian quaffs of gin and window breaking then we might as well give the whole thing up and go back and live in the trees.
The second is this extremely strange idea about compulsory national volunteering. Leaving aside the oxymoronic nature of the phrase I suppose we can at least use it as proof that there's none so illiberal as liberals imposing their pet schemes upon the hoi polloi. Other than that it's a nonsense, a truly horrendous idea that any civilised being should be ashamed of even considering, let alone publicly advocating.
Whether it's the melanin enhanced being shipped across oceans to pick cotton for Massa, the men of the country being impressed to die in the wars of their elders or the young being forced into servitude to the state by wiping said elders' bottoms there's a very simple reason why such things are repugnant. They're slavery. They are, in the end, the use of the power of the gun to force people to labour as you would wish rather than as they would wish, that they should spend some or all of their lives satisfying your desires rather than their own, something which has no place at all under even the farthest penumbra of a civilised society.
What is it with these people? At the moment it looks like the economy might return us to the living standards of 2006 and the truly pessimistic are suggesting 1990 or even 1980. So the suggestion is that we should regress in moral and legal terms to somewhere around 1800 to compensate? Seriously, what is going on?