Dogs Being Wagged

I presume because of the wind direction, there were relatively few aircraft flying over East Berkshire today, as I pootled around the lanes between Reading and Windsor. It makes a difference: the resulting quietness is something to savour.

I was especially mindful of it because some Tories have been calling for a third runway to be built at Heathrow**. The focus of the talk is about how it can be done without upsetting regulations about CO2, and about how it will do wonders for trade.

Leaving aside climate change, no-one mentions the people who’d be further blighted by increased air traffic – all those who live under the flight paths. There’s no attempt – by any politician of any note of any hue – to evaluate human happiness. There are assumptions that economic growth is good when, patently, endless growth in a world of finite resources is impossible and we should probably be trying to organise society to contract. There are assumptions around trade, earnings and wealth that are at best untested and certainly aren’t put out to public examination, and in fact they’re being made in a context where we’re increasingly aware that the things we buy don’t buy us happiness.

(Yes, minimum standards that come with a degree of wealth are needed, sure, but if there was anything even nudging toward a fair distribution of wealth in the West and perhaps even globally, they’re achievable.)

And so it was that the obvious struck me: the tail is wagging the dog. The only point of work, of trade, of wealth and all the rest of it is if it brings benefits. Get to the point where it doesn’t, and it all needs re-evaluating. There’s a lot that says we’re at the point where a lot of work is pointless and we need to re-order society to put work in its rightful place – there, but in the service of life, not dominating it.

We’re not put on the planet to work. That’s just a myth put about, very persuasively, by those who ‘gain’ the most from that work. Quite possibly the most bitter irony is that there’s plenty of evidence that suggests those ‘gaining’ from all this work aren’t happy either, despite – or perhaps because of – their greed and riches. It’s lose-lose. It’s a funny old world, but no-ones laughing.

An aircraft overhead: shattering the peace or in pursuit of our greater good?

An aircraft overhead: shattering the peace or in pursuit of our greater good?

** Telegraph report on calls for a 3rd runway