Bad habits and dull shapes

We have no nature. Our nations are not built instinctively by our bodies, like beehives; they are works of art, like ships, carpets and gardens. The possible shapes of them are endless. It is bad habits, not bad nature, which makes us repeat the dull old shapes of poverty and war.

Alasdair Gray, Lanark

The emergency budget is intended to change the arrangement of the state permanently. The cuts it contains have been trailed as inevitable as well as irrevocable. The extent of the deficit has been talked up mercilessly. Tim Harford points out that almost all the ‘extra’ debt the government claims to have discovered has in fact been public knowledge for a very long time, but it doesn’t matter: the debt has to seem new, because it has to justify the mercilessness of the cuts. Continue reading