Friday, August 22, 2008

A Sorry Commentary on Educational Standards

I was at the Burning Leaf pub in Southend the other day, having a drink with my old friend Ephesius Brachnid. Don’t ask, it’s a family name. (As an aside, I understand Miss Lavendar Beaumont sold the property. I don’t want to whine too badly, but it’s a very convenient pub for me: outside of my own drinks cabinet, it’s effectively my local. The Burning Leaf closing would be like a death in the family. (Admittedly, perhaps a death of a distant, and not terribly well-liked cousin, but still…) And the Leaf features in a forthcoming tale of mine, which will make it a tad strange if the pub no longer exists. Ah well, “things change” should be the motto of Caledon.)

Things were going well, until Ephesius happened to mention the slowing economic conditions, not only in our fair land but elsewhere. “Rhianon, the Guvnah’s got to do something about it! Businesses are suffering – heck, people are suffering.”

I smiled sweetly at him. “That may be so, Ephesius, although, judging from the lag at Gurl6 the last time I was there, the economy seems to be holding up pretty well, thank you. But what do you think the Guv should ‘do’ about it?”

He played with his empty glass for a moment, and the reflections from the dying light outside created a bright glow on his face and made him appear to be quite mad. Which, perhaps, he was. “Bold moves, that’s what we need! The Guvnah should distribute Lindens to everyone in Caledon – a big wad of Lindens – with instructions to go out and spend. The government needs to stimulate the economy with cash.” He followed his own advice by catching the barmaid’s eye and asking for another gin. I noticed he didn’t order me one.

“Ephesius, that’s the dumbest idea I’ve heard in quite some time. Even by your standards that’s silly.”

“Why? What’s wrong with my plan?” He looked hurt. I had forgotten how sensitive he was, like a little boy.

“For one thing, ‘the government’ doesn’t earn money, so ‘the government’ is in no position to give it away. Shopkeepers and landowners earn money. If I understand your plan, you want the Guv to rob the very people who keep our economy running, give the money to the rest of us like some modern-day Robin Hood, so that we can go out and give the money back to our landlords and our favorite shops. Now, how does that make sense?”

Ephesius had the good grace to look a little chagrined. “When you put it like that, it doesn’t sound quite as remarkable. It seemed like a good idea, though – and I stole it from a respected politician!”

I turned a palm over. “Well, there’s your problem. Don’t steal ideas from politicians; that will only get you in trouble. And the whole concept of a respected politician seems to be an oxymoron.” I patted him on the hand. “Drink up, Ephesius, dear, and don’t do so much thinking. We’re both better off that way.”

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