Thursday, 4 March 2010

I've got a good idea

In fact I have several good ideas, honed and refined in Professor QO's laboratory and workshop over many years. By 'honed and refined' I may just mean 'stolen from someone with more insight' but you'll just have to decide that for yourself on a case-by-case basis.

OK? Right, let's begin.

• Let's abolish marriage. No, let me be more precise. Let's abolish legal marriage. If two people with common beliefs wish to share a standard form of ceremony, approved by a church or other belief-based organisation, that's entirely up to them. But why should the State have any say in marriage? We can all see what a pig's breakfast the State makes of law-making; what competence has it in matters of love?

• How about, just as an experiment, we forbid men from having any position in local or national politics? We'll let women have a proper go, with no interruptions. Let's say the experiment will last 100 years, then we'll assess the results. Mind you, that's a bit interventionist, isn't it? OK, how about we'll say that no male may have a penny from the taxpayer if he wishes to practise politics (the filthy swine), nor may he occupy any of the senior positions in local or national government.

• While women are running the country, let's insist that all men take some part in responsibility for defending it. Unless he is so handicapped that 24-hour care is necessary, every adult male will serve at least two years in one or other of the military services. And I mean at the sharp and sweaty end, where bullets and bombs may be involved, for at least part of that time.

• What a silly system our current democracy is. One person, one vote - as if everyone's vote was of equal worth. Why should the feckless, ignorant wifebeater, whose drink and drugs habits mean he can't string three words together, enjoy the same mandate as a doctor who owns property, has children, has paid lots of tax and has very much more to lose if the country is poorly run? No. Here are two much better alternatives, and I will acknowledge Nevil Shute for the first (though I've buggered about with updated his notion somewhat).

• If you insist on having an electoral system, let's make it reflect people's commitment and worth to the community. You get your first vote for either gaining a degree or vocational equivalent, or paying tax from employment for three years. (The latter will also apply to immigrants; there will be no other requirement for their first vote.) Another vote for being a parent who's contributing to the child's upkeep. Another for having a certain value of cash and/or assets - say, £100,000. No problem if you inherit, you still have a stake. Pension funds will do nicely, sir. Various other votes for services to the country. Convicted criminals who manage to go five years with no further convictions will be awarded an extra vote. Anyone who appears on The X Factor or Big Brother will be docked a vote. Anyone who fails without good reason to vote in two elections (local or national) will lose all their votes, but may earn them back by achieving the above targets afresh or carrying out unpaid community work to a value of £10,000.

• If you can accept leaving this notion of democracy behind, instead of electing our leaders, we'll appoint them - and strictly on merit. Imagine the application form! 'Evidence your experience in running a large economy... give an example of an occasion on which you averted a major land war in the Middle East'. The dozen or so Cabinet members appointed will get a good salary, but final income will to a large extent reflect national wealth. They will agree to serve a term of five years with a possible extension of a further five. If their performance fails to meet agreed targets, they will be removed from office, and the members of the appointment committee will become personally liable for repayment of salary to that point. Should encumbents be impeached for any reason, all monies paid over to them will be recoverable.

• Providing homeopathic treatments to others for reward will be perfectly legal and will not require any form of licence. However, those who do provide such treatments will not be entitled to free care under the National Health Service.

Well, those should provide some food for thought. Wouldn't it be interesting to see how things worked out under those systems?

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