But I am fascinated by the news that, according to credit rating agency Moody’s, the economic unit that is Great Britain is less credit-worthy than the US sub-prime mortgage market in the halcyon days of the Bush administration.
Is this a problem? You wouldn't think so from the comments of the egregious Osborne, our Chancellor, who is pretty blasé about it all.
At least, he is now.
It matters to me, and my family, and those I work with. But then, I’m no economist. The problem is, nor is George Osborne.
When Labour was in power, it was the imminence of a downgrading that drew his critical ire. His Tory manifesto claimed that “we will safeguard Britain’s credit rating with a credible plan etc etc”. When he took over as Chancellor, the retention of the AAA rating was down to him: “Britain is a safe haven. Our country’s credit rating has been affirmed” he boasted in July 2011.
So what now? Well, it would seem that he is determined to continue with the failing plan of Thatcherite free market economics, ragardless of the verdict of the 'free' market.
This despite the fact that, each day, the case for regulation and proper economic planning is being made anew as the press (an example in itself, of course) reports yet another flagrant example of the excesses of what Heath famously called “the unacceptable face of capitalism”.
There is no need to embark on another rant about bankers or the press or corporate tax avoiders. As my regular readers know, I’ve been there and done that. And right now, we have a more topical example, which is closer to the hearts of all us.
As a restaurateur, I know how expensive good food is. I open the invoices from our suppliers and write the cheques each month. I was baffled by the minimal cost of meat in Tesco across the road from us. I had assumed, naïvely, that you get what you pay for: that if, for example, one wants premium steak (and our customers do), then one must pay a premium price; if one is content with inferior cuts, then one pays significantly less.
Now we know that we’re not merely discussing inferior cuts, we’re talking about different animals.
The free market in foodstuffs created a situation which is ripe for exploitation by fraudsters. And they were straight in there. Hey, that’s the free market.
Exactly how free is something that we shall doubtless discover at the end of yet another enquiry. But we know, for example, that the essence of the free market, banking, was not free at all.
It was rigged.
I found it impossible to believe that Diamond and Hester et al were not aware of the Libor fixing. And I find it hard to believe that the bosses of our great monolithic supermarket hegemony were not aware of the provenance of the meat on its shelves.
In our restaurant, we know exactly where our beef comes from; we can track it back to the beast itself. Of course, one reason why this is so is that we care about it. We’re not philanthropists, but we do have priorities other than profitability. We care about the quality of our food, we care about the cooking of it, and we care about the way in which it is served.
But we’re one of those independents fighting against the tide. Because, as Dylan sang (and this is my less-than-seamless way of moving from Osborne to Dylan via baseball, Rick!):
“A lot of people don't have much food on their table. But they got a lot of forks 'n knives. And they got to cut somethin'.”
Take note, Osborne.
Today's listening: a lovely short set at Ash Grove from 1963. Jackie DeShannon accompanied by Ry Cooder. Reminds me of Beth and James, who are coming to dinner at Wilde's tonight.