Category Archives: economy

The vice of outsourcing everything to China

Dalrymple notes that Wuhan flu and its consequences have been rather revealing about the West’s condition. On the matter of supply chains and interdependence,

the economy, as we have constructed it, hangs by a thread.

Western folly

The speed with which so much unravelled came as a surprise —

untune that string, And, hark, what discord follows!*

If we had stopped to think,

we might have realised how unwise it was to outsource production of almost everything to distant and not necessarily benevolently-disposed foreign powers.

Ponzi scheme

Yet, says Dalrymple,

our habits — spending more than we earned for decades — required it. To maintain the illusion of solvency, money had to be created and interest rates kept low. But to avoid the appearance of inflation, prices (except for property and financial assets) had to be kept low. The only way was to outsource manufacturing to low-cost economies, and voilà, with the able assistance of the coronavirus, the economic situation that we are in.

Will we ever learn?

We discover when shortages arise that

most of the things of which we go short are not necessary to our happiness; materialism, that the good life is ever greater consumption of material goods, whether refined food or sophisticated electronics, is false, and we have run after false gods.

But

as soon as normal service is restored in the form of endless supply and huge choice of material goods, we revert to our materialism.

We were probably sincere in declaring that consumption of material goods was not all-important or necessary to happiness. It was just that

the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

*Troilus and Cressida act I, sc. 3
†Matthew 26:41

The secret of the British economic problem

English cuisine

Emetic: English cuisine

A service economy without the service

The British no longer have the faintest idea how to prepare or serve food, either in establishments they are pleased to call restaurants or in their own homes. According to W. Somerset Maugham, the only solution when in England is to eat breakfast three times a day. But the English can no longer manage with minimal competence even to prepare a halfway-decent breakfast.

British eating houses, bar-grills, cafés and other places where dining (of a kind) goes on, from the humblest truck-stop to the most exalted, starred restaurant, are easily the worst in Europe. It is better, for example, to go to bed hungry than to risk an evening meal at, say, an English public house.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 09.59.02

Suburban Tudor

The Moon Under Water it isn’t

Dalrymple is reminded of this when, hungry one evening and with no other dining establishment in the vicinity, he enters a pub (which, like many from the 1920s and 1930s, is built rather pleasingly in the suburban Tudor style), and is greeted by

the flashing lights of fruit machines

and

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.45.20numerous large flat screens disposed in such a way that it was impossible to escape them. It was as if one had a duty to watch.

Drivelscreens

At least, he says, they

were all showing the same thing — a football match, football being a 24-hour activity.

Dalrymple dare not complain. British popular culture is

crude, unpleasant and inescapable; if you criticise it, you are taken for an enemy of the people.

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The Codfather. Bon appétit!

The smell in the pub

was of stale beer and even staler fat in which standard British prolefood had been fried.

He peruses

the grubby menu, a triumph of quantity over quality. The fish dish was called The Codfather, size trumping taste. Everything came with chips, of the frozen variety.

Soupe à l'oignon

Soupe à l’oignon à l’anglaise

The table is

sticky and long unwiped.

Dalrymple orders soup. It is

packet soup which had not been properly dissolved, so that it had little balls in it that if bitten exploded into a kind of salty dust.

He orders steak, and asks for it to be rare. When it comes, it

would have been regarded as incinerated in any other country.

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

Fried mushrooms: at least their own weight in fat

The fried mushrooms

contained at least their own weight in fat of some type.

The next morning

I woke with a strange and unpleasant taste in my mouth.

The meal

The flashing lights of fruit machines

The flashing lights of fruit machines

wasn’t even cheap.

This is the vital point. British food is not just atrocious — it is execrable value.

During the meal,

the man who had taken my order came over to my table.

Everything all right?‘ he asked.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 11.02.01‘Yes, very good,’ I replied.

Dalrymple concludes:

The slovenliness, the bad quality, my pusillanimity: voilà the secret of the British economic problem.

Halt! Ihre Papiere, bitte. Schnell!

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.03.13Pax Germanica

It is not something the Germans have sought, writes Dalrymple. It has been

thrust upon them by their diligence, industry and constant application of intelligence to the real rather than the virtual economy, by their willingness to get rich slow.

The Germans do not want to throw their weight about, demanding every country’s

Papiere, bitte.

Yet they

do not want to be responsible for rampant inflation or for the breakup of the euro, either.

Whatever is decided,

love of Germany in Europe will not grow.

We are all guilty!

Scan 1

Kiosk, by ffolkes

This was the cry of Dr Heinz Kiosk, the eminent social psychologist and chief psychiatric adviser to the Meringue, Éclair and Profiterole Authority, in Michael Wharton’s ‘Peter Simple’ column in the London Daily Telegraph newspaper. It is also the heading atop an article on the Western economic mess in which Dalrymple makes the point that

it is not only governments that have been improvident and have spent well beyond their means; millions, scores of millions, of perfectly ordinary people have done so as well. Our banks were no good, our government was no good, and we were no good.

Scan

Wharton

Dalrympleland

Britain: home to the world’s most charmless people

Dalrymple on his country’s parlous state

  • Creeping Sovietisation

Large areas resemble the Soviet Union with takeaway pizza. The only ‘private’ enterprise consists of retail chains that recycle government subventions to the unemployed. The middle class is composed of public employees who cater to the problems created by mass unemployment.

  • Circumambient criminality

At the start of the deutero-Elizabethan age, Britain was one of the best-ordered societies in Europe. Now it is the most crime-ridden. Social disorder is everywhere. A curfew has been imposed on old people by the drunken disorder that appals and disgusts foreigners.

  • Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 16.16.18Pervasive squalor

The ugliness perpetrated everywhere by post-war architects has been matched by an ugliness of soul and society that is so obvious to visitors.

  • Fraudulence at every level
Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 22.39.05

Seth Pecksniff

The country has become deeply corrupt, but in a British way, that is, hypocritical and underhand rather than worldly and cynical, Pecksniff rather than Talleyrand. Corruption and irresponsibility have been legalised: £12bn, for example, has disappeared (except for some consultants) on a scheme to provide uniform medical records. No crime has been committed, but the money has gone.

  • Cock-eyed, increasingly useless policing

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 16.20.44Our police, once a model to the world resemble an alien occupying army, festooned with the apparatus of repression, who inspire fear in the innocent and are bullying yet ineffectual.

  • Institutionalised idleness

Some 2.9m people claiming to be so ill that they could not work: the British benefits system performed the miracle of causing more invalids than World War I. Policy has been to suck in large amounts of unskilled foreign labour while maintaining high indigenous unemployment.

  • Economic collapse

Economically on a knife-edge, per capita private debt among the highest, huge commercial deficit, budget deficit among the highest.

  • Gracelessness and sordor

    Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 16.25.27

    Fuck off!

Many grow into profoundly unsocial beings of whom others are afraid. A population has emerged that is the most charmless in the world.

The rotting euro

More economics commentary from Dalrymple, who here outlines his theory of what he terms mutually assured worthlessness.

The UK economy: a painted corpse

Britain would resemble Nigeria more than the US in the way in which it responded to the gift of [shale gas].

Britain under the spell of spivs

The scurrying displacement activity exhibited by successful members of the political and administrative classes.

Where everything is over-controlled, the spiv emerges…