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A farmer laments

This essay, which I found while browsing the excellent website of Stephen Hicks, will resonate on both sides of the Atlantic.

As a farmer’s son, I sympathise with its message, but more optimistically, I’d argue that in some ways, life in the countryside is still a lot less regulated than in the towns, perhaps rightly, since when people live in close proximity and have to get along, more rules are required, if only tacit, rather than written, rules. But the sort of restrictions this farmer writes about are not caused by that sort of issue, but by the ongoing move by the state to regulate agriculture.

Cynics may argue that farmers have signed a Faustian pact with the state; they have accepted massive subsidies and can hardly be surprised if the providers of said increasingly demand to control the actions of the recipients. I agree with this. The sooner that the Common Agricultural Policy and its equivalents are obliterated, the better.

34 comments to A farmer laments

  • Nick M

    The UK ones didn’t sign a Faustian pact with the state. They signed a Faustian pact with the EU and they weren’t given any choice in that.

    But, hey they got fucked-over less than the fishermen so what they got to complain about.

    I once, briefly-ish, temped for Defra. Every last staffer in there should’ve been forced into feudal servitude working strip fields by hand. It would’ve achieved more. Although, to be honest the country probably would’ve been better off if the whole bally-lot of them had been on the rock & roll.

  • Cynic

    I suppose Britain’s farmers are not as swinish as they are in a lot of other countries. But I think a fair few would start complaining if the subsidies were eliminated. And all this organic nonsense and pseudo environmentalist buy local scams are just some new attempt at protectionism.

  • Paul Marks

    I once sat near a Defra person on a train – he was boasting (to anyone in ear shot) about how he messed farmers about.

    So it is not just uselessness.

    It is time for a New Zealand solution – and end of regulations and an end to subsidies.

    “But British farming could not stand a free market” – people who say this have the interwar period on the brain.

    Actually before the First World War British farming had adapted to the competition of exports from the United States and other nations.

    British farming was not dying in the years just before the First World War – it was recovering (it had been recovering for about twenty years).

    There is no holy law that says “British farming is a joke that can only survive as a theme park paid for by the taxpayer”.

    If the REGULATIONS were done away with farming would recover.

    For example, there would be a return to local abattoirs (destroyed by the regulations, regulations that have made meat less safe not more safe) and they would sell meat to local butcher shops (sometimes owned by individual farmers – as they used to be).

    The environmentalists would love this – local supplies (less transporting of livestock). The same is true of milk (where the farmers get messed up – because they can not just sell their milk locally, direct to customers).

    The regulations even make local supply of vegetables impractical.

    The whole distribution and retail network has been distorted by the regs.

    People complain about how everything is centralized in the hands of the supermarkets – but it is not some wicked plot by Tesco and so on, it is the regulations that have done this.

    The old relationships between shops and local farmers are de facto illegal now (as they can not deal with all the expense and red tape).

  • Paul Marks

    Some people talk of the effects of the “free” (taxpayer financed) road network on food supply (subsidizing food supplies from further away).

    However, a real private rail network (not the unionzed and regulated one we have now – with its government owned “Network Rail” and “franchises”) could bring in food supplies to towns and villages also.

    Indeed if people no longer had to pay for such things as fuel tax, private roads would be profitable via tolls.

    Even environmental objections could be got round without great difficulty (assuming much lower taxes and regulations).

    For example, electric trucks (the power supply being generated by nuclear power) or hydrogen feul cells (the hydrogen being got from sea water – the sea water being “split” by electricity, the electricity being generated by….).

    There are no great problems that could not be solved by the wit of human beings – if it was not for statism of course.

  • RAB

    Yes indeed it is the regulations that put us in the mess we’re in.
    My father was a butcher, with his own abbatoir and many of my relations farmers. He would buy our relatives animals, slaughter them and sell the bits back as and when needed.
    Worked a treat. The furthest he ever had to transport livestock was from Hereford Market or Cowbridge (Gee I wonder how that place got it’s name?) only about two hours travelling even in the 50s. They were then popped into a big field next to the abbatoir and left to enjoy themselves until dad came to make them into steaks etc.
    I believe it to be a fact, as did my dad and relations, that meat tastes better if it hasn’t had the shit scared out of it on long pointless road, boat and air journeys.
    But regulation is doing that to our food.
    It’s not a protectionist scam Cynic. Food can be produced much more easily at a local level, with benefits to everyone, the farmer the butcher, the consumer and the animals, but the regulations wont let us.
    After nearly going bankrupt because of over regulation, my father got out of the business altogether and bought a general stores in Cardiff. My farming relatives moved from mixed arable to pick your own fruit operations and others from Dairy (oh lord god the MMB!) to opening stud farms. This was in the early 60s so nothing to do with the EU. The Ministry of Ag was well into fucking up our farming industy long before Johnny Brussels came along to give it a hand.
    I’m afraid the only agricultural link I have close to hand now is my neighbour John, who is the vicar in the Archers!

  • Midwesterner

    if it hasn’t had the shit scared out of it

    If you knew how literal this is, RAB … I once rode to the market with a neighbor as he sold his year’s herd of steers. Sure enough, they all “had the shit scared out of” them before they crossed the scales. At a few pounds per steer, it added up to some money. And of course, they had been without water for quite a few hours by then.

    Paul’s description with a couple of sentences struck could be the US.

    I have one thing to add that is not obvious to non-farmers. Speaking for myself and the farmers I knew, we did NOT want the subsidies. The way the racket works is this. The government busybodies want to tell you what to plant, where to plant it, who to sell it to and for what price. But they can’t get a lever on you. So they (the government busybodies) subsidize every crop you could grow until the market price is below cost of production. Then, they offer subsidies to YOU if you will do things their way. Since the alternative is often to lose the farm, the busybodies hold several consecutive generations of life savings for a hostage.

    It is not greed for a free ride by farmers, it is greed for control by regulators who use it to compel farmers to obey their edicts.

  • What is a scam is to have the regulations, which make it cheaper to import than to grow, to deal with less regulated foreigners then more regulated countrymen, etc, etc, and then to expect people to pay even more to avoid imports and deal with their countrymen.

    Keeping the regulations and importing is the middle of the road.

    The honest solution is to repeal the regulations.

  • Jim C.

    From “Screwtape Proposes A Toast” – “Hidden in the heart of this striving for Liberty there was also a deep hatred of personal freedom. … Even in England we were pretty successful. I heard the other day that in that country a man could not, without a permit, cut down his own tree with his own axe, make it into planks with his own saw, and use the planks to build a toolshed in his own garden.”

  • Sunfish

    Paul:

    The environmentalists would love this – local supplies (less transporting of livestock). The same is true of milk (where the farmers get messed up – because they can not just sell their milk locally, direct to customers).

    Dairy farming, in the US, is an especially-nasty patch. The editorials in the dairy trade journals read (hat tip to P.J. O’Rourke) like Bulgarian newspaper editorials from the bad old days. Regulations requiring that milk be handled and packaged in expensive sanitary facilities are one thing: They may or may not be pointless exercises in statism but at least I can see what problem the regulations are meant to alleviate. Paying farmers to destroy product to keep prices up and then paying other people for being too poor to buy the price-supported groceries in question is like masturbation only without the happy ending.

    RAB:

    I believe it to be a fact, as did my dad and relations, that meat tastes better if it hasn’t had the shit scared out of it on long pointless road, boat and air journeys.

    Among hunters, that’s somewhere between well-known and folk wisdom. I suspect that there’s a certain amount of truth to it. Fear causes a hormonal reaction in mammals (and chickens too, for all I know) and I can believe that the hormones may taint the meat. I’ve noticed a slight difference between deer who never knew what hit them, and deer who got spooked and then ran. It’s certainly plausible that the same applies to sheep and cows also.

    Jim C:
    If there’s a critical difference between that quote of yours applied to England vs. the USA, it’s probably that you may not need a permit in the USA, but by God you WILL pay the property tax on the improvement that is the toolshed!

  • I hope everyone reads the linked essay – unbelievable.

  • Sunfish

    What’s unbelieveable about it? The regulations protect us from impure food!

    I’m inspired. When I work this holiday weekend, I’m going to harass children with lemonade stands about their lack of a sales tax license and the cleanliness of their paper cups.

    They need to learn that society has rules and structure. They’re a part of society and need to comply with society’s norms, and society’s norms dictate that food will be produced and sold in a certain clean and consistent manner. If they’re selling home-made lemonade out of their own parents’ pitchers without even providing a proper restroom for their customers, then they obviously are not providing a safe and sanitary drinking experience.

    I mean, when Mom needs to make more lemonade, how will she know to wash her hands before mixing the “Country Time” crystals[1]?

    And they’ll take in, maybe twenty bucks in a good afternoon? They need to pay their own fair share of the cost of operating a society! I mean, how will they ever get customers if it weren’t for the sidewalk that the city built for them? They should pay their share of the cost of that sidewalk! And the trash disposal for the (probably un-recyclable, given the proclivities of pre-teen capitalists) paper cups is also an environmental cost that they’re not making up!

    It’s almost like that jackass who posts to some “sammy’s data” site who named himself after a bluegill who makes beer in his garage. He’s obviously not complying with the same quality and purity standards as Anheuser-Busch or Molson-Coors. Why, if he were to give some to his friends, they might be poisoned!

    It’s almost enough to make me start smoking again.

    [1]because using lemons and honey to make lemonade is disgusting and leads to inconsistent product quality and is something that dirty hippies do.

  • I believe it to be a fact, as did my dad and relations, that meat tastes better if it hasn’t had the shit scared out of it on long pointless road, boat and air journeys.

    The meat packing companies in the US are finding this to be true, which is why Temple Grandin’s humane and efficient abbatoir design concepts are sweeping the industry. McDonalds will not buy beef from a company until their operations have passed her audit.

  • RAB

    Nice one Sun !
    I’ll take a crate or two of the hooch
    I sounds like good stuff!

  • Paul Marks

    The only positive side of all this is that New Zealand shows that it is possible to do away with subsidies and a lot of regulations.

    Many people denouce pro freedom people for being “theorectical” (and in economics I am a supporter of using reason – i.e. the “a priori” approach), but New Zealand (a country of several million people) is at least an “empirical example” we can point to.

    RAB – does cider go with beef?

    A bit of Hereford beef with some Hereford cider sounds (at least in theory) interesting.

    Of course these days it would not be prepared in Hereford itself.

    Well the beef would not but the cider still would, proper oak cider (not the lead of Devon that led to Devon madness).

    Rich Paul – agreed.

    Sunfish – agreed.

    What more is there to say?

    Jim C.

    Yes C.S. Lewis had the truth of it (as so often). Perhaps a small garden shed might escape the rules (as long as you obey the golden rule and DO NOT ASK ABOUT IT – if you say “is what I am doing in line with the rules” you are asking for trouble), but not much else does.

    I will be on planning subcommittee A on tuesday night. It would not be ethical for me to mention any of specific issues, but I am not looking forward to it.

  • I pity the ‘feul’ who drives to Cardiff up the A37 for a weekend with the new New York family(on a trip here); especially if they don’t stop at Gaynor’s Cider Press.
    It is commercial grog, to be sure, but the place is huge and there is a factory shop!

  • RAB

    Well if you are currently in the Cardiff neck of the woods Pietr, with the family, then for heavens sake try St Fagans welsh folk museum, just outside Cardiff. It will blow their socks off.
    Also Castell Coch, which like Cardiff castle, is a semi fake but magical. The orgies Edward VII went to there!
    For the real thing. Caerphilly castle. You will never see a better preserved one than that.
    Paul I replied to the cider thing, but on the wrong thread! Dont ask!! If you want the recipe, it can be arranged. Nothing like my wifes beef stew, slow cooked after a long and frustrating council planning meeting, washed down with a few of Sunfish’s beers hopefully!

  • RAB, can’t you tell, I was born in Cardiff within sight of the Gaol.
    Last week we all went on the open-top bus tour.
    Fascinating history.
    The Butes invented Cardiff.
    They got rich exporting coal(which died in 1964 thanks to Notionalisation)from the docks they built.
    There are still 600 ships a year to Cardiff Docks, although in the Bute’s days it was 600 a month.
    There is still a (Spanish-owned) steelworks near the docks, palled up with the one in Newport.
    The third Earl Bute rebuilt the castle with some of the huge fortune he inherited(by huge think the Microsoft of Coal).
    When everything was notionalised in 1947 the Butes sold up, gave away the castle, and returned to Scotland.
    They knew when they weren’t wanted.
    But prior to that, they had lived in it proud as punch in the city centre.

  • Paul Marks

    I once visited Cardiff (when I lived in London such things were less difficult – now it would be “one day to get there and one day to get back” thus meaning a trip of three days minimum).

    I remember a nice park and church.

    I have heard of both Cardiff Castle and of Castle Coch – but I have been to neither. The third Earl of Bute sounds like a remarkable man (even rebuilt a bit of the Roman fort I hear – God bless Victorians who ignored “it is not possible” and went, with their own money, for their dreams).

    Of course closer to our own day Portmeirion (another place I have never seen and never will) was created by Clough Williams-Ellis (although it amuses me that the man capaigned for the Town and Country Planning Act and then was a victim of it – did he think everyone else would be “under socialism” whilst he was on top of it?)

    I have not been to Caerphilly castle either – but it sounds like my sort of place (a lot of water defences – thus making digging tunnels a dangerious tactic).

    Sadly I did not go to the folk museum – indeed I did not know it existed till you mentioned it.

    I have been to the coast South Wales and I liked it – but I have never been to a coast that I did not like.

    I do not often cook (at least nothing difficult) – but you have inspired me.

    Send the recipe to paulvmarks@hotmail.com and I will have a go.

  • RAB

    Good Evans!
    Another Welshman!!
    Well two things that threw me about you being Welsh Pietr Butt-
    Your website says your location is Sheffield and you talked about going up the A37 to Cardiff. I think you mentioned in a thread that you had re-located to the south west, so I assumed that you were in Taunton or somewhere. I would have said A37 to Bristol then M4 to Cardiff….Still.
    So within sight of the prison eh? I was born in Gordon road, just round the corner from the Mayorial Mansion (looks like a council house compared to Bristol).I shouldn’t have been but the Miners Hospital in Caerphilly was full when mum decided the time had come and she was rushed to Cardiff.
    Ah the Butes! Yes your right they pretty much single-handedly made Cardiff. My Gramp had a good relationship with them being one of their Colliery managers at Bedwas up till Nationalisation.
    He hated Nationalisation. He told me much later as an old man, that he knew right then that it was the end of the Coal industry. He didn’t retire until he was 70 because he was pleaded with to stay on and see them over the transision. He told me he despaired of the brain dead socialists he was handing over to.
    I will send you the recipe Paul. I’m no cook either but this one is dead simple and delicious!
    I also send various folks who post here photos of trips Ness and I have made. I am going to Caerphilly castle again soon, so I will pop along a few to you if you like.
    It was one of my playgrounds as a child. Well tourism hadn’t started back then. There was one old bloke taking sixpence for admission, but we would walk down town from Mountain road and easily avoid him!
    Well Sixpence was a lot of money for an eight year old back then! You could get a sack full of Blackjacks and fruit salads for that.Then we had all of this amazing place to live out our Robin Hood type childish fantasies in! We’d be there for hours and hours every week.
    I’m a lucky man. I had a magical childhood!

  • Nick M

    Lordy!

    The Welsh seem to be massing on the border…

    I can almost hear “Men of Harlech”…

    a sack full of Blackjacks and fruit salads

    I love the old sweets (my Gran’s influence). Now I’ve found a good place for some (Stockport market) and a great place for a lot more (in Keswick) but there is one thing from my youth I crave. Does anyone remember those little (maybe 7cm long, 5mm wide), very hard, very brittle, very shiny sticks of liquorice? You used to be able to get them in mainly in chemists shops. More important, does anyon know where to get them?

    Modern sweets are crap and it’s nearly all bloody chocolate. Nahhhhh!

    … Can’t you see the spear points gleaming…

    …Best armour up.

  • RAB

    I know the ones you mean Nick, but havent seen them for donkeys years.
    Given the time I grew up in, I thought that liquorice was an exotic foreign product.
    Imagine my astonishment when I found out that Pontefract cakes were actually grown and manufactured in Pontefract Yorkshire England!
    The stuff I really liked as a kid though was what we called liquorice root. This was a fiberous twig that was the raw material for liquorice.
    You just chewed it like a yokel chews a straw and to great satisfaction.
    Yes chemists sold it back then. But back then they would sell the ingredients to make a bomb without batting an eyelid to 12 year olds like me who were just topping up their chemistry sets.
    Gentler times eh?

  • Sunfish

    Paul,
    I hope you were agreeing with my first post and not my second.

    RAB,
    If you want real cider, it’s easy. And it may even still be legal on your green and pleasant isle. And if it’s not legal, what is HM Custom and Excise going to do, interrogate everyone who buys four gallons of unpreserved and unpasteurized apple juice?

    We really need another recipe thread. It’s been a while. And it’s the only (legal) way for my adult beverages to be available to wash down slow-cooked stew after mind-numbingly awful planning meetings. And God bless Paul for taking that one for the team, because I couldn’t do it. I’d probably set something on fire in the meeting room to change the topic of conversation away from The Rezoning of Forty-Third Avenue from Commercial Type C-3 (large retail mixed with residential) to Commercial Type C-5 (large retail mixed with toxic waste dump).

    (Yes, I’ve already ruled out smuggling. An island full of pale and bitter and porter and oatmeal stout and cider doesn’t need anything else that I could drop off on a barren and stormy seacoast in the dead of night. Putting a two-finger salute right into Gordon Brown’s eyes would be satisfying but it won’t balance the books.)

  • RAB

    Bless your heart Sunfish, there isn’t much you can teach us round here about cider!
    I sometimes pop in here to wet my whistle.

    http://www.cothamporterstores.co.uk/

    As for smuggling. I guarantee that you will not have finished your first pint before someone sidles over offering 50gram packs of Golden Virginia normal retail price £9.50 for £3.50
    A recipe thread is a great idea though.

  • Paul Marks

    Sunfish – I may be a humourless prig, but I can spot scarcasm and irony (well some of the time anyway).

  • Paul Marks

    My efforts to convince people I am not humourless might go better if I learnt to spell the word sarcasm.

    Bristol: another place I have never been (too far away from Kettering – town of the closed shops).

    I look forward to the recipie and to photographs of the castle.

    Although, of course, photographs can never really capture a place.

    As for farming – we have a “solution” to that in Northamptonshire.

    Housing estates (and roads and other stuff) built on the farms.

    “But where are all these people going to work”.

    Well some of them work in “distribution” (looking after and distributing imported goods), but there do not seem to be any other jobs (apart from government ones of course).

  • Sunfish

    RAB:
    I must be uncultured and badly so. I like my cider sparkling.

    BTW, Victory Gold? Is there something to it having the same brand name as all of the tobacco and coffee in 1984?

    Paul said:

    As for farming – we have a “solution” to that in Northamptonshire.

    Housing estates (and roads and other stuff) built on the farms.

    “But where are all these people going to work”.

    They’re on FARMS. If the unemployed and otherwise-homeless are going to be parked on farms, then by all means let them farm!

    Or better yet, let the farmers own the farms and buy the seeds, and if they want to employ a bunch of people, then let them. Or not. Whether someone works on Maggie’s Farm is really up to he and Maggie to work out. I suspect, though, that you and I are on the same page here.

  • Paul Marks

    Sunfish.

    After the housing estates (and so on) have been built on the farmland the farms DO NOT EXIST ANYMORE.

    So whatever these people are going to do – they will not be farming.

    The way things are going in Northhamtionshire there will be a mega city (but a city with no heart – nothing important or interesting in any part of it).

    Milton Keynes (in Buckinghamshire) will link up with Northampton – which will link up with Wellingborough (they are almost joined now), which will link up with Kettering, which will link up with Corby (that brings us to the county line in the north).

    The towns (as well as linking up) will also expand (in terms of estates) to the sides (as they have been since World War II – more “planning”).

    Estate after estate after estate (the “Eastern District” of Northampton is hellish).

    A bit like the suburbs that make up L.A.

    And the centres of the towns will be destroyed – they basically have been already.

    For example Northampton was an attractive market town – it was “developed” (at the expense of the taxpayer).

    Martin Anderson and the “Federal Bulldozer” (1965) have been ignored in this country and the march of statist “progress” goes on.

    As for Kettering “Old Kettering and its Defenders” is a story of defeat.

    The defeat goes on – I sit on the local council committees, I know what is going on.

    The wreaking of town centres (for example by blocking roads) and moving everything out to ever more “developements” continues. Mistakes are never reversed – just additional mistakes added.

    “There is congestion we are going to have to…. ” (various evil things).

    “But the congestion is caused by your blocking of X, Y, Z, roads – unblock them”.

    “No, we can not revisit past judgements – we must look forward, not back”.

    Towns and villages that evolved over centuries are destroyed – and replaced by stuff that could be anywhere on Earth (nothing English, let alone Northamptonshire about it).

    As for “where are they going to work”.

    Well people are not going to work in factories – there are fewer of those every year.

    You are lucky Sunfish.

    No matter how bad the mistakes that are made you can get in your car and drive till you get to somewhere different (deserts or mountains or forests), south east England is SMALL Sunfish.

    Even the country (what some people call the “countryside”) was made by the hand of man over the centuries – it is easy to destroy and there is no room for mad blunders.

    By “mad blunders” I mean the post World War II (especially 1960′s onwards) “planning”.

  • Paul Marks

    Things really are as bad as I have indicated.

    For example, there are more people in Kettering than ever before (VASTLY more) yet the High Street is full of closed shops.

    In other parts of the centre of town the buildings are actually FALLING APART (the decay has got that bad) – buildings that were taken over by the council and never came back (held up in “planning permission” stuff).

    As for the High Street – no one can drive along it (it is “pedestrianized”), and the bus station is closed (and has apartment buildings slapped on it). The buses stop outside the 1970′s “Shopping Centre” (a vast financial loss for the town – and a destroyer of a lot of fine old buildings).

    Where the buses now stop used to be a major north-south road. Now cars are not allowed to use it – so they go by silly routes (hence congestion – although the closed High Street and Gold Street hardly help this either). The town is virtually cut in two – with people in “north Kettering” having very little to do with people in “south Kettering” (and vice versa).

    Hence the High Street is a desert – lots of closed shops.

    “So where do the people shop?” Well a lot go to Market Harborough – a town that did not have the “good fortune” to be “improved” (but its time of evil will come – there are already “developments”).

    So we have a Borough of close to 100,000 people (counting Desborough and so on – where the shops are in an even worse state than they are in Kettering proper) vastly more than ever before, where the retail trade is dying (even the precious money-pit 1970′s Shopping Centre does not do very well, in spite of everything being rigged in its favour).

    As for factories – fewer every year.

    Nothing apart from government work and “distribution” (thank you A14 road – thank you for nothing).

    It is not “bad people” at fault.

    We have had local councils of both major political parties and we have tried getting rid of council leaders within the Conservative party.

    And we have had national governments of both major political parties.

    It is not “bad people” it is the SYSTEM that does not work.

    As for “farms” – I can not go on.

  • Sunfish

    I stand corrected about the farms.

    How much does the national government have to do with local planning and zoning?

    From your description, it sounds like Northamptonshire is basically just one big wasteland of apartment blocks, big-box retail stores, and abandoned small retail. Was there one comprehensive plan that dictated this result? Or did each successive council completely ignore what the last one did in order to implement its own bad idea?

    Growth is a messy question here. I’m looking for ideas of, well, it sounds like your area is a healthy example of what not to do.

    But at least it sounds like you don’t have too much trouble with water rights. I once thought that, Colorado being basically high desert, water would be a limiting factor on growth. Then I realized, there’s an entire Federal agency devoted to taking water from one place and piping it somewhere else, mostly to accomodate morons who want to grow cotton in northern Arizona (take a hint from the state’s name, morons!) or build developments with green lawns and such in Aurora.

    I suspect that every really idiotic land-use decision has government involvement somewhere.

  • Midwesterner

    Sunfish,

    Around here (Wisconsin) virtually all of the ‘Smart Growth’ sanctioned planning for future development mysteriously seems to have a connection to past and present local politicians or their close relatives. Funny how it is good planning to develop housing around a state recognized wildlife marsh when the land is owned by board a/o commission members.

    I once looked at a long range planning map and virtually all of the future development was for land that I could tie by ownership to past and present officials. I could show you procedural record that should probably have been criminally prosecuted. Some of the players are dead now, but their legacy remains.

  • Paul Marks

    No corruption in Kettering Midwesterner.

    I sat next to the exleader of the Conservative group on a committee on Tuesday and listened to this gentleman (who had either been leader of the council or leader of the opposition for decades) quietly denounce council policy in X, Y, Z areas (policies that have been policy for the same decades – regardless of who was in office).

    The thing is (to reply to Sunfish) that elected politicians have very little influence on things here.

    Between local government officers and national government policy there is very little room left for local politicans.

    That does mean that there is little point in bribing us (although there have been some cases of that in some areas of Britain) – as we are rather like the fairy on top of the Christmas Tree. We may be “on top”, but we are not in charge of anything.

    As for Northamptonshire:

    There are still a lot of good villages and even one or two good towns (for example Oundle is nice), but a lot of the contry has been ruined (including most of the towns) – and things get worse every day.

    A lot of “development” is exactly how Sunfish describes it.

    Although there are fewer department blocks (although there are more and more of these) and lots and lots of “housing estates”.

    The whole point of a town is mix. Churches, offices, factories, shops, pubs, concert halls, homes….. all mixed.

    Modern policy seems to be deliberatly designed to prevent such organic development – in favour of “the plan”.

    Within living memory the advantage of being a townsman (as opposed to living in a village) was that everything you could normally want was in walking distance (although there were a lot of things, including factories and workshops, in villages – one sometimes still needed to get the train into town for some special things).

    These days towns are so spread out that one needs a car to go from one part of town to another (and a lot of useful things no longer seem to be in any part of town at all).

    As for the villages – well the ones that have not been eaten by the towns still LOOK nice. But a lot of things (such as shops and places of business) that used to be in the villages have just gone.

    Also (since the 1950′s) the village railway stations are gone (even the service between many towns and cities has been destroyed) so for non car owners – well non car owners (whether due to poverty, or to age, or to coordination problems) have no place in modern society.

    There are still towns that have lots of interesting things in them and have fairly good connections to other places (York springs to mind – although a lot of the factories of York have closed), but none of these towns are in Northamptonshire.

    Here it is matter of going “down to London” for various jobs and various other things. And travel to London is wildly expensive (as is living there).

    And even London has bad signs (masked by the financial services money of “the City”).

    For example, beer has been brewed in London since the Middle Ages – but even this is going.

    It is often forgotten that “the smoke” (London) was a manufacturing city before anywhere else in Britian was (no they did not invent making things “up north”). But the writing is on the wall.

  • Sunfish

    Between local government officers and national government policy there is very little room left for local politicans.

    In that case, who decides what local officers will be hired? Who decides what local offices even need to exist? Who holds those purse strings? Come to think of it, if nearly everything is set in London, then what does a local council actually do?

    Also, you distinguish between a “town” and a “village.” What is that difference? Here, “cities” are typically home-rule to a greater or lesser extent, and “towns” are incorporated to the degree that they have their own roads and (sometimes) their own police department or town marshal and (rarely) their own fire department, but have relatively little power to pass criminal ordinances or levy taxes. At least here, the term “village” seems to mean very little.

    Modern policy seems to be deliberatly designed to prevent such organic development – in favour of “the plan”.

    Where does the plan come from? Mindless drones, piloting desks like a retarded version of the Borg Collective, can implement a bad idea easily enough. However, the bad idea had to come from somewhere.

    I can even see a plan sometimes making a little sense, just not any plan that results in what you’ve described.

    Not that I’m trying to figure out who needs to be shoved up against a wall over there…although shipping a bunch of civil servants to Australia in chains may not be such a bad idea.

  • Midwesterner

    The whole point of a town is mix. Churches, offices, factories, shops, pubs, concert halls, homes….. all mixed.

    Modern policy seems to be deliberatly designed to prevent such organic development – in favour of “the plan”.

    It sounds and looks almost like a really twisted strain of multiculturalism. Segregate, segregate, segregate. Each thing in its proper ‘community’. None better, none worse. I bet these guys as children had tantrums when a pea got into the mashed potatoes.

  • RAB

    Been going on a long time Mid!
    De Caubosier (spelin?)
    Milton Keynes, Welling Garden city
    Cwmbran!(oh god what a shithole!)
    The sheeple live here. Then they commute and work there. Then they entertain themselves somewhere else!
    About as organic and natural as a gun to the head.