Goodbye to all that; 27 steps away from the yellow Brick Road for the next decade
The image, which is a beautiful one, comes from a site called 'stilettos on the run'. It is not concerned with the Neapolitan dispute resolution instrument beloved of earlier Sicilian generations, but rather with impractical footwear that make women look even more attractive. In Dubai.
There are times when things are set, and times when they can be changed. Tomorrow, a vast Asian free trade bloc will be consolidated by the entry into agreement of China and Asean. Last week, Russia announced the completion of pipelines and ports that massively enhance its bargaining power by giving it the capacity to feed energy west or east. Peak oil went mainstream just before the announcements.
Earlier this month, the United States admitted that it had no more money for any second stimulus, but moved towards a vast and complex healthcare bill that will cost over a trillion and which benefits the insurance lobby almost more than anyone else, for a marginal practical gain.
The British plunged into debt that will soon be worse than that of Italy, whilst the media encouraged people living on the edge of a credit abyss to spend, spend and spend again in sales. The War on Terror, that distinctive twenty-first century mania, escalated and began to assimilate yet another civil war. A fire whether deliberately set or not, after all, uses all available fuel and adds all others to its own. The gains to establishments everywhere intensified as full-body scanners and identification technology united with another argument for their ubiquity.
Despite the growing cold, and the collapse of global warming's intellectual case, governments plunged towards the creation of a carbon trading market that has already cost jobs and that fraudsters are already lining up to perpetrate. A second and serious credit crunch in the eurozone, complemented by vast north-south tensions, completed the feeling of a now ineluctable combination of forces that will make 2010 a terrible and historic year. Remember, the wall street crash was in 1929; the banks didn't fall until 1931; the worst years of the depression were long after it appeared.
In the face of it, a fellow could despair. But, we have reason and I have faith, so let's not. Dragons are there to punch on the nose, following all necessary precautions. And possibly to eat. The blogosphere is often accused, rightly, of being negative and disengaged, so all good bloggers should use this opportunity to say what they would actually do.
Here's what we are going to have to do in the UK, as ever in my 'little list' form.
1. Abolish whole ministries, like the Departments of Business, education, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and communities
2. Set universities free to sink, swim or consolidate into one, flexible national university
3. Institute lower, flatter taxes on all economic agents, rather than complex systems that allow the rich and corporations loopholes, and consider swapping income or profit tax for a land value tax
4. Abolish charities and create a new non-profit status
5. Move to individual health accounts
6. Abandon the carbon credit system
7. Hold an EU referendum and primaries for a massively slimmed-down parliament
8. Abolish about two thirds of local council seats and around half of all local council activity, and make councils actually collect rubbish and repair roads
9. Make London a city-state and give England some form of self-government
10. Find some way to remove the useless Conservative, Liberal Democrat and New Labour parties
11. Use the Council of the Isles as a way of redefining the British Isles
12. Create some form of non-profit ownership of railways paid for by customer investment and bonds
13. Create genuine national insurance, ring-fenced and protected
14. Institute school vouchers for post-16 education, with private providers allowed in a regime of minimal state regulation and no national curriculum
15. Abolish the Crown Prosecution Service
16. Set up an anti-quango regime that progressively downsizes the state
17. Institute Asian language teaching credits and university exchange programmes with Indian Ocean countries
18. Rebuild apprenticeships and manufacturing industry
19. Allow 'big sport', 'big media' and 'big science' to face the market and collapse if necessary
20. Pay off debt and build up ties with countries that share interests on an ad hoc basis; this almost certainly involves changing financial, extradition, and security arrangements to the disadvantage of the US-UK relationship.
21. Decide whether we want a modern armed service and pay for it properly.
22. Allow religions, communities and individuals to provide whatever schools or social services they wish.
23. Give all citizens a shot at secure regulated tenancy and the ownership of assets, and protect that property from invasion or regulation by government officials unless absolutely necessary.
24. Stop using the interests of children as an excuse for the regulation of society, the power of social workers, or the increase of abortion.
25. Make it clear to big businesses, retailers and bankers that they exist for us, the people, and not the other way around by subjecting them to a rule of automatic co-operative ownership, decided by vote, once they reach a certain size.
26. Consider a new monetary base and some form of global monetary arrangement predicated either on the effective abolition of central banks or a new international standard; either would stabilise currency values and allow currency to reflect reality better than the present arrangement.
27. Build more prisons and put more people in them whilst slashing the number of things people can be arrested for and return common law powers to a less regulated but reformed police force.
Alternatively, we could just stay drunk and watch the country burn. I am confident that we will not, but then again, I have a plan to escape to Korea.
Here's Mr Elton John with some muppets.