A perfectly ridiculous post by Julian Huppert MP on the Spectator's Coffee House blog (recommended, btw) tells us much about our economic predicament.
Mr Huppert writes about cycling, currently much in vogue following a successful Olympics, and whilst saying that cycling deaths are surprisingly low, wants us to DO MORE. For those of you who don't understand government-speak this means taking money by force from hard pressed taxpayers and blowing it on some self-satisfying project. 'If we are to make a diference', Huppert smugly opines, 'we need £100 million to be invested annually in our cycling infrastructure....Every city should have a cycling commissioner promoting and advising on cycle safety.'
There is so much wrong with this, and by extension with Mr. Huppert, that it has to be tackled head-on.
First thing, Julian, is we haven't got any money. Remember? The wallet is empty and our debts are far, far too high. Your idea is that having blown billions on the Olympic Games, when something becomes popular we should chuck even more at it. Maybe instead we should instruct our athletes, like the Chinese and Koreans, to lose.
The second thing is that Britain is already struggling under a bloated state, which is stifling enterprise and initiative and you want to make it bigger. There would be more state employees taken on to administer the £100 million, managers, assistants, secretaries, lots of people can make a fairly good living playing with this kind of lolly. Then the commissioners. You don't think, do you, that this can be done without a little help? You must know what these people are like, Julian; there will be assistant cycling commissioners, deputy assistant cycling commissioners, local initiatives with more government employees travelling down to see how they handle this in Ashton-under-Lyne or Penzance.
Stop it, you idiot. Britain has got itself into a bad state by us listening to social democrat nonsense like this. No more. Mr. Huppert, your time is up.
Lastly I cannot help mentioning that whilst cycling has experienced renewed popularity, the people who are actually going out on bikes are people who would otherwise have taken some other exercise. The 'renewed popularity' is largely with overweight Brits sitting on sofas watching Bradley Wiggins on the TV while sipping beer from cans and eating pizzas.
They will probably like your idea.