Sunday, November 26, 2006

Contract Killer

We have a government displaying alarming signs of fatigue and frustration and a Prime Minster terrified of losing his grip on the place in posterity he truly believes he deserves. But is the outgoing party leader planning a last ditch offensive against an ungrateful populace or maybe its just pure, unadulterated revenge. The Guardian reported yesterday that Tony Blah Blah Blair, plans to get us to conform through a new ‘social contract’,
‘A new contract between the state and the citizen setting out what individuals must do in return for quality services from hospitals, schools and the police is one of the key proposals emerging from a Downing Street initiated policy review’. The Guardian (24/11/06).
The Guardian goes on to speculate on what this might entail,
‘Examples include an expectation that a local health authority will only offer a hip replacement if the patient undertakes to keep their weight down. Parents might also be asked to sign individually tailored contracts with a school setting out what the parents must do at home to advance their child's publicly-funded education.’
Oooo, I’m so scared. There is no point in getting too worked up about this because the more loony these proposals become, the easier it is to see ways of just ignoring them. There is a good deal of comfort in knowing that most ‘New’ Labour proposals now go straight from press release to office shredder via a day’s media exposure before becoming chip wrapping. See me going in for my hip replacement,
Doctor (sternly) : We will only give you a new hip if you promise to cut down on the Green & Blacks Maya Gold Ms Lee.
Me (sincerely) : Of course Doctor!
Cut to six months later after my hip replacement.
Doctor (very sternly) : Ms Lee, you undertook to keep your weight down.
Me (cheekily) : So I did Doctor. Wanna see me break dance and eat chocolate at the same time?
Conclusion – Doctor is crap at game theory. Besides, even Homer Simpson could mount a credible legal challenge to being denied a statutory service on purely subjective and highly judgemental grounds. Doh!
When Jean-Jacques Rousseau penned his famous treatise ‘The Social Contract’ back in 1762, he began with the universally recognised,
‘Man was born free, but he is everywhere in chains’,
If Blah Blah is so intent on nicking his sound bite, he might have done Rousseau the courtesy of reading on to the next sentence which goes,
‘Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they.’
In our modern parlance, ‘What goes around comes around.’ Blah Blah’s time will come.
What I wonder is WHY?
Our antecedents went to a lot of trouble to develop logic and linguistics, semiotics and semantics so that we could accurately communicate our desires, intentions, displeasure and concurrence to each other. So why is it that a bunch of Oxbridge educated lawyers can’t muster the collective skill to complete a concept, or even a sentence for that matter? If they really knew what they were doing, they’d get it across to us, wouldn’t they? It’s not as if we’re stupid.
There are so many Blah Blahisms now that someone is probably already preparing a large volume. Here’s one of my favourites. He began his conference speech in 2004 with a kind of mad jumble of desiderata, exercising his usual refusal to confine himself to a standard sentence construct. That was the year he pledged to protect the rights of ‘hard working families’ and came out with this er, vision,
The values require steadfast conviction but the future requires restless courage to know and act upon the coming reality…”
What is he on about? Blah Blah’s premiership is carpeted with these cringing non sequiturs and, usually, an accompanying gloomy visage that screams, why aren’t you people getting this?
Answer – it makes no sense you tosser.
The flurry of intimidating activity intensifies as the retirement party inches ever closer. You feel a Nazi-style scorched earth manoeuvre in the making. If I can’t run the country my way, I’ll burn the blighter down. Arrrgghhh!
Of course it is far too late for this government to build a trust-based relationship with the public now, as its tactics increasingly resemble those of a mobile phone company whose greed is only matched by its incompetence (hello Talk Talk). For the record though, the most basic game theory which has been computer-tested and proved effective is one called tit for tat. It works on the principle that humans are wired to respond in kind. So, if you make a positive gesture, it will be returned with a positive gesture and vice versa. This is why we have elections. A group of people offer us a package of prosperity. We vote them into power so they can give it to us (as opposed, say, to their friends who pretend to live on their motor yachts in Monaco). Then, crucially they give us what we asked for. Or they don’t and we tell them to bugger off. How hard can it be?
Anyway, we can take comfort in the knowledge that all we need to do is ignore Blah Blah. He will go away…

Photograph by Syed Jan Sagawoon published by The Guardian


Groucho said...

Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?

Grungegirl said...

You guys seem to have it as bad as we do in the US.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was just me that doesn't understand what their going on about. Is everyone just making out they know whats going on but they really don't?