Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Lucy Locket Lost Her Pocket...

Kitty Fisher and parrot - by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1764) - public domain, via Xn4 at Wikimedia Commons ...Kitty Fisher found it.

Probably because Kitty Fisher had lots of friends in the circles that get to pick folks' pocketses, whereas Lucy Locket is only some poor working girl about whom nobody important knows or cares.

These thoughts are inspired by a killer Goat Quote from Guido Fawkes today (hat tip: Samizdata.net), concerning the current UK hoo-hah about large numbers of perfectly genuine charities being in danger of closing, due to... a withdrawal of their Government funding? Say what? Sez Guido:
A charity that relies in the main part on taxes is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend.
Well, quite. "Give me money or go to prison!" can be called many things, and may be defended in many ways. "This is charity!" belongs under neither heading.

Guido is, I think, quite at sea with his Tory-friendly interpretation of Big Dave's Big Society buzzword. I remember his beloved Thatcherism rather well, and whilst many of Mrs T's criticisms of state socialism still ring true today, so do no few of Cheerful Charlie Marx's criticisms of free-y industrial capitalism; and he can whistle for my sympathies, too. The Thatcher regime in its day had no objection at all to a Big State where it came to the Big People's interests, and was often almost commendably open about the matter. I have considered including such a commendation herein, but unfortunately this pixel is too large to write it on with any pretence of good housekeeping.

If the Tory Party really wanted to promote charity, it would be getting the hell out of the way of it, and knocking down some of the costs and prohibitions and privileges the State currently puts there. Stupid Planning Tricks; long waits for permission for public action, combined with onerous fees for asking it; and taxing everyone for community facilities so as to hire them out at 'market rates' to those who can either afford them or blag yet another big grant from everyone's taxes for the purpose, all come to mind as candidates for the Big Society's Big Chopper.

But sweet charity is not what a ruling elite wants. There is small gain in being Lady Bountiful when every rag-tag-and-bobtail is overflowing with bounty too. They want Edmund Burke's little platoons indeed - so long as they deploy themselves according to the commands of the Great General! Little bands of bolshy merry men, roistering maenads, and holy fools sharing bread with the hungry without first cutting their lords' spawn a generous slice, are and will remain wholly surplus to requirements.

The good hope for the Little Platoons is not that they will rally behind the Great General to help him win the War on Everything - but that they might be emboldened to mutiny, for love of Lucy Locket!

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