The Commissars love Exclusion.
Exclusion is Bad.
Exclusion demands Action.
Exclusion needs Big Government.
One of Bliar's very first actions as PM was to establish, amid much spin, a Social Exclusion Unit. But it turned out not to be socially excluded at all, based as it was, inside the Cabinet Office. And apart from providing another slew of comfortable jobs and further giant stacks of unread reports, its only tangible achievement in more than a decade has been to rename itself the Social Exclusion Task Force. Luvly jubbly.
A Reader has just sent us an excellent illustration of how this Exclusion Industry works. It's a bar chart extracted from the latest Ofcom report (Ofcom being the quango charged with regulating the UK's communication industries), and it summarises the reasons people give for not having broadband:
And what a bunch of reasons they are. A Reader comments:
"Clearly, none of the 24% who ticked the survey's "too expensive" box did so because they'd rather spend the 180 quid per annum on fags, a trip to Spain, a third TV, bingo, beer, Sky, restaurant meals, or whatever discretionary vice you care to think of. No, none of them spend that amount on any of those things - all their expenditure being non-discretionary, they simply don't have 15 quid a month left to get broadband.
Likewise, the 10% who ticked "don't have a computer" are all desperate to have one -- they just don't have the 100 quid that a perfectly functional secondhand computer costs these days.
The 3% who ticked "too much hassle" are likewise victims of societal forces beyond their control -- none of them ticked it because they think "it's a hassle and I've got better things to do with my time".
The poor 3% who ticked "don't know how to use a computer" are also victims. Victims of bad genes. Perhaps gene therapy can help. Or eugenics.
As for the 3% who ticked "too old", well, at least they'll die soon and Ofcom won't have to fret about them anymore."
Well spotted, A Reader.
And we all know the next step: the rest of us will be forced to finance broadband for the digitally excluded. The Commissars will decide it's unfair anyone should be excluded from realtime porn downloads and 24/7 online gambling just because they can't be fagged to get broadband for themselves. And the government will move in.
It's set Tyler thinking about his own exclusion status.
To start with, he has a very ancient mobile phone. He thinks the hundreds of quid it would cost to update to an iPhone is just too expensive. But that means he's totally excluded from Today's Lifestyle. He can't check his stocks and watch Celebrity Breast Enlargement while waiting for the number 11.
And come to that, why does he wait for the number 11 anyway? Just because he balks at £30 cab fares, he's excluded from comfortable travel round London. Why should he have to put up with less than Mrs Speaker takes for granted?
And then there are all those Gieves and Hawkes bespoke suits he doesn't own. And what about that £2m Ferrari Scaglietti that Abramovich just bought Jose? He never bought one for Tyler, and Tyler feels really excluded on that.
We have no idea how big the Exclusion Industry now is. But it gets bigger all the time, and we're guessing it costs us zillions.