Friday, 21 November 2008

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

I'm proud of my heritage and the rich history of the country I grew up in, but I now despair for a country that I believe is quickly going to the dogs - and forgetting the lessons of history and the very things it fought against decades ago.

The current UK government has been planning to introduce a national ID card scheme for some years now and although I haven't been following the debate closely, since I no longer live there, I found this article on the BBC site very disturbing.

Although ID cards will not be compulsory initially, they soon will and you'll have to pay a fee to get one - simply another tax on the already farcically over-taxed UK citizens. Then, if you forget to report a lost card or fail to update your details held on a government database, almost certainly a vulnerable one given this government's history, you will be fined £125 to £1000 (roughly US $190 to $1500). The government then have the gall to say:

"Civil penalties are not intended to be punitive or revenue raising as it will be in an individual's best interests for their information to be accurate."

Not intended to be punitive? This is a joke, right? Of course it will be in an individual's best interests to keep their details accurate otherwise they'll be punished.

To top it all, homeless people will be able to list as their residence the bench in the local park or a bus stop!

I often feel blessed to live in the USA. I know some freedoms have been lost since 9/11 and there are certainly things I miss about the UK such as a national health system, but the US people, and for the most part their elected leaders, still firmly believe in the rights and freedoms given to them by their written Constitution and its Bill of Rights. The UK, of course, has no written constitution.

Not too long ago I rediscovered an old Waterboys album of mine. I don't know if this group was well-known in the US but they were one of my favourite bands when I was a student. This album has a song I adore, "Old England", and I've been playing it in the car during the commute the last few days.

A man looks up on a yellow sky
And the rain turns to rust in his eye

Rumours of his health are lies

Old England is dying


His clothes are a dirty shade of blue

And his ancient shoes worn through

He steals from me and he lies to you

Old England is dying


Still he sings an empire's song

And he keeps his navy strong

And he sticks his flag where it ill belongs

Old England is dying

[...]

4 comments:

Protege said...

Tom, I share your sentiments in this matter. There is something about the US that always struck me as "the ultimate freedom". I lived in North Carolina for 8 years and it was one of the happiest times in my life.
With that said, I think today I can never leave Europe again, as this is where my roots are.;))

Beep said...

I'm glad someone likes it here :) It's good to hear that there are folks who come here from other countries who enjoy their time in the U.S. I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to live here without having life be completely dominated by the struggle to obtain and to pay for health care, and maybe it would be a fun place to be, at that. But if you ever show signs of developing a chronic illness, leave while you can, all of you. The health care system here kills 25,000 per year who never got or who lose insurance coverage. I'm so tired of doing nothing with my life but fighting to not be one of them that I've considered just giving up. There are still things about my country that I admire but for decades now it has just been way too over-the-top plutocratic for the health of the citizenry...and, as I think a lot of people are seeing now, even for the health of the economy

alice said...

The song your post brought to my mind is Ian Hunter's “Letter To Brittania From The Union Jack," which also expresses an ex-pat's ambivalence toward the beloved mother country...

Tom said...

There are other people who feel the same way, such as the excellent Theodore Dalrymple.