It all started roughly around the time that I was on honeymoon with Sophie, November 1944. She was frightened out of her wits when she heard her first Buzz-bomb, I was used to them, teaching in the South England, with them flying over everyday. If you heard them you were safe, once the sound stopped, one waited to see where it had fallen, thankful when it was not on you. Then followed in order, the V2, and the atrocities of the atomic bombs on Japan. We didn’t think of them as atrocities then, merely retribution, the change of heart came later. That basically was the beginning of the Cold War, and the Space Race, where scientists were given large sums of money to pursue their own private hobbies, without let or hindrance. Ever since there have been burgeoning space programmes, throughout the world, that to me seem nonsensical. I think it is time that an accountant brought up a balance sheet to see whether the gross, worldwide expenditure, on space travel, space stations, satellites and the rest, have provided the taxpayers throughout the world with value for money.
Yesterday there was a piece on television about the Jodrell Bank telescope which had been refurbished. I have no knowledge whether fibre-optics was the discovery as a result of the space programme, or was inevitable. What amazed me about this television screening was that by using fibre optics, with the refurbishment of Jodrell, they are now able to link up all the other telescopes in the UK, and then make such discoveries that will show all the features that the scientists have been trying to find, such as planets similar to ours, without going into outer space, at what must be a fraction of the cost.
That is only one feature of the way in which governments take decisions of how they are going to spend our money, often without reference to us, or value for money. Currently, according to the pundits, we are facing the slippery slope that could lead to a severe recession, and yet every day practically, the government is producing spending plans in millions, that clearly are off-the-cuff, and proposals, not thought out in any detail. Yesterday they were talking about leading the world yet again, which always cost money, and at the moment we are broke – they never seem to learn that the world doesn’t want us to lead them, even if we could.
There is a dichotomy between the approach of the individual and the approach of our leaders, and in that I include both opposition parties. They are fighting an election, and trying to achieve acceptance in any way they can. This in general, seems to be a modification of the tax system, and expenditure on eye-catching projects. The man in the street on the other hand is scared out of his wits in case he is one of the next ones to get the boot, so his approach is to save as much as he can, and in the future live conservatively, until there is day light. I wonder why the government and the opposition don’t take this into account, but are steadily intending increasing the long-term future tax burden with their current policies, which seem to be at variance with the grassroots approach, the people providing the taxes?