Saturday, 12 July 2008


Old Holborn is not the author of this post. That honour belongs to Farkinzarquads over at Grumpier Old Men

When does a luxury become a necessity?

In the current climate of increasing energy prices, rising taxation and commodity prices, a credit crunch and the collateral fallout to the economy the majority of people are obliged to assign a greater proportion of their disposable income to core costs.There’s really only two ways to offset these costs without developing further income streams.

Firstly you either (and quite naturally) look towards cutting back on the luxuries of life in order to service non-negotiables such as food, shelter, energy,clothing, water and toiletries.

A less orthodox strategy may be to peel back the core or non-negotiables to the bone by cutting back on energy use, taking a long stare at frivolous food purchasing, shopping in Lidl and perhaps Primark or Asda ‘George’(which when pronounced with a soft first G and a hard second G ala ‘yeorgee’can soften the blow by making it sound exotic or at least Balkan if you wish to fecklessly delude yourself). ‘Reduced’ similarly may become ‘Red- ooo- ched’ aka Red or Dead etc.
Either method or perhaps a combination of the two is what most of us without much in the banking pantry will adopt sooner or later. My grump is where we place the line between luxury and necessity. Before continuing this diatribe it’s worth pointing out that I put my hands up to being complicit in this myself and do not stand on some sort of smug moral high-ground looking down with any sort of self satisfied vindication I assure you. I’m just as much a greedy fool as the next person – but anyway.

I was born in the early 70’s and grew up as what may be described as one of Thatcher’s children. It may therefore be argued that having no empirical comparisons to make I couldn’t be aware of the context of the shift in paradigm that was taking place in Britain at that time until I had a later alternative with which to compare it and thus it was.

However, I do remember clearly having a pretty good idea of what most people had and didn’t have. Perhaps this was swayed somewhat as I came from quite a frugal if loving background but the media, current affairs, popular culture and being a part of a quite unique vogue for ‘progressive’ early schooling, with a wider cross section of economic classes than I might have expected to encounter, gave me ( I believe ) a fairly balanced framework.

The truth is that people from my economic background didn’t, for example , generally own cars, houses, sophisticated communication equipment, drink alcohol to excess daily (with obvious exceptions)or expect anything other than hard prison for legal transgression.

Even some of the more wealthy people I was at school with in those early years had successful parents who maybe had a lived-in Range Rover, went to America on business and had a town house in Islington or The Docklands – thing that would be quite unremarkable by today’s standards and certainly, for a much wider cross section of society, something realistic to expect or aspire to. My grump essentially hinges around this ‘expectation’ that many have.

If you’re wealthy then these trappings are just the baubles of that wealth and that’s how a free market economy rewards and encourages hard work, luck and innovation- no problem with that. It’s always been that way and like it or not it will always, in form or another, be that way.

What I farkin ‘ well do have a problem with great tranches of whatever passes for the lower middle classes, what remains of the working class and in particular what we now label as the lower working class or indeed the ‘not working at all class’.

For these groups the line between luxury and necessity has been distorted out of all proportion in the last 30 years, willingly ignored in the dash for the tangible trappings of a seemingly god-given right to up their game. When will these people realise that you simply cannot ‘have it all’ on a modest £12- £30k a year? Where has the idea of cutting ones’ cloth according to ones jib go? I suggest that it disappeared at about the time credit became cheap (both plastic and mortgage) in combination with an emerging culture and New Politics convincing us we can have it NOW.

If you earn this kind money then here are some suggestions:Don’t go and get a mortgage for 27,000 times your combined salary and then whinge when it all goes t1ts up – you weren’t meant to own a property on that kind of money. You’re meant to SAVE a big deposit first and forgo everything else. This should take, very roughly, your entirely life to execute – about the same amount of time as you will have the property to live in.

No sympathy.

Don’t knock your girlfriend up, have 14 children ,THEN borrow 27,000 times your combined salary in order to house them and then whinge about it. Put your d1ck in your pants, travel the Bourneville highway, spank the monkey a lot – doesn’t matter. Until you’ve SAVED the deposit , got the house and budgeted for the repayments don’t start a family.Oh, and if you do get married then s@unking 14 grand of your parents (or banks) money on a wedding so that auntie Gertrude can have a sherry and a slice of cake does NOT make for a sound fiscal strategy.

No sympathy.

A wide screen 42” TFT television , a new computer, a Bang and Olufsen media centre, an American walk-in refrigerator a Nokia abc123, the latest games console, a Dyson whirly Hoover or any other of superfluous gadgets and durables should NOT be considered necessities in an economic recession. Tough sh1t.

No sympathy.

Missing two weeks in Fuertovetura, Florida or Ibiza throwing lager down your throats, plucking the spiders legs from the bikini area and talking twaddle on a beach to equally pig-ignorant plastic neds is not actually going to kill you this year… or in fact ever. Don’t whinge when you can’t go (again).It certainly does not constitute a crisis worthy of divorce or the plead insolvency.

No sympathy.

A second , third or fourth car and the lack thereof is not a reason to plead poverty believe it or not.No matter how nicely the man at Easy Car Credit was and no matter how kind it was of him to throw in some re-tread rubber foot mats, the dog does not need it’s own second car…and neither does your pet canine.Furthermore a BMW X5, a Mercedes, a Lexus and similar marques are not ‘good cars’- they are absolutely frickin’ EXCEPTIONAL cars and something you would have been lucky to be run over by if they had existed in their current form in the 70’s so stop whining when the tax is due, it drinks a lot, needs servicing or doesn’t somehow clean itself. Own it, enjoy it and if you can’t afford it- sell it.

You weren’t meant to have it. That’s life.

Similarly Ford, Toyota, Renault, Mazda, VW and such marques are not ‘sh1t’ cars but GOOD cars by the same sort of argument. If you can’t deal with the loss of pride that shift of thinking entails then you’ve lost the plot.

No sympathy.
There are endless other examples I could introduce of whinging, feckless, inappropriate and largely misguided thinking going on in Britain at the moment and much of it from people of a similar age and background to me that unless lobotomized really should know better.

Perhaps the way forward under the circumstances is to try and regain some of this seemingly elusive perspective, be thankful for small mercies, and just f@cking -well get on with it. The idiots that have been smoking a bongful of credit for the last 15 years will be forced to sober up and suffer ,the banks will have their fingers burnt but the trappings of a good life may return to be the things we aspire in a more measured fashion and give them greater meaning and pleasure in their acquisition which might just make us better people in the long run.

Recession? Can’t come too soon.

1 comment:

max the impaler said...

Couldn't agree more.The shear frustration though,of not being able to live like David Beckam is the cause of most youth rage and dissatisfaction.Starting your own business in todays anti-capitlist,socialist loving, brain dead, overegulated country is nigh on impossible.And if you do actualy get cracking, the tax regime will make dam sure there's never any 'fat'for a rainy day.
The ethical and moral collapse of the feral youth of today, is rooted in just the scenario you describe.

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