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Evil! Evil Think-tank!

Those of us enjoying our Easter Monday bank holiday will look with ire and scorn upon the recent report of the Centre for Economics & Business Research which, according to the BBC, says that if bank holidays were scrapped the gross domestic product of Great Britain would £19 billion higher every year. No mention of what manner of witch-doctery science they used to determine this figure — whether they employed an augur to tell the auspices or consulted the oracle at Delphi itself (hasn’t done the Greeks much good of late).

Also, it is improper to misuse the English language in such a way as to imply bank holidays entail a “loss” or a “cost”. If I fancy Springtime Surprise in the Grand National, forget to put a bet on her, and she wins, I haven’t “lost” any money at all, I just haven’t gained any. I suspect this study also fails to account for the increased cost of the general misery which would be caused by the lack of bank holidays. People might be tempted to go around burning or bombing things — y’know, just because. People do funny things when deprived the ordinary pleasures of freedom.

What’s more, who’s to say people being at work more means they actually do more work? I remember seeing a delightful Figaro headline: Les françaises: champions du monde en vacances. It’s true, the French do take their time off. But studies have also shown that when physically at work they tend to work harder and more efficiently than other countries, particularly Americans.

The BBC article also provides a table of public holidays per a selection of countries. I quite happily lived in South Africa, a country with 12 bank holidays to Great Britain’s measly 8. What about those hyperproductive Japanese and South Koreans? They must be slaves to their jobs, poor suckers! Apparently not: both countries have 15 public holidays per year.

We must beware those who would prioritise economic growth over life itself. The philosopher Roger Scruton put it best:

When people refuse to pull down a cathedral for the sake of the coal beneath it, or insist on retaining a Georgian city when it could be rebuilt as a business park, they create obstacles to economic growth. Most forms of love are obstacles to economic growth. Thank God for obstacles to economic growth.

This post was published on Monday, April 9th, 2012 2:56 pm. It has been categorised under Errant Thoughts.
Comments
  1. Titus
    10 April 2012
    2:05 pm

    This reminds me of nothing so much as the writers of books and articles on tax law: these people speak of the government “losing” or “being cost” so many billions of dollars each year by allowing some deduction from taxable income, or not levying a tax on cucumbers grown in one’s backyard, or what have you. It must be a sad, strange world in which they live.

  2. Francisco
    10 April 2012
    2:42 pm

    This kind of writing reminds me of Chesterton. Regards, Francisco (friend of Juan Novillo Astrada, Argentina)

  3. Matthew
    11 April 2012
    12:41 am

    I think this is part of a larger issue, namely the growing influence of a mode of thought which masquerades, innocently or not, as conservative and Christian but which is really more neoconservative and objectivist (=Ayn Rand), and how this neoconservatism is complicating the current context. Scruton really does put it very well. This sort of issue also calls us to re-evaluate our priorities, whether personal, ideological, or otherwise, and to reflect upon what we truly believe, or more importantly, how we really live.

  4. Matthew
    11 April 2012
    12:44 am

    I also think it is very strong but not altogether inappropriate to characterise this think-tank and the report therefrom as ‘evil’. This line of reasoning, when stripped of all disguise, is really none other than a mercantilistic materialism, and a rather crude one at that.

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