Summertime - and provided you have half decent health and an adequate income, for the old retired guys - the living is easy! That's a big 'provided' in there.
I'm sitting in the sun with my wife looking at the boats in Arbroath harbour. We're enjoying fish and chips fresh from the chippie washed down by a can of Irn Bru. What could be better? Reminiscing is what we oldies do best and I found myself thinking back to the days when fish suppers came wrapped in old newspapers - often the Sunday Post. Now they're in a polystyrene box - but they still taste great.
Would you believe the polystyrene box got me to thinking about the world economy?
I'm sure the fish was caught and landed by a local fishing boat.....well I hope so anyway. I hope the chips came from locally grown potatoes. But what about the polystyrene box? What's polystyrene made of? Where did it come from? Who manufactured it? Gosh, my fish supper now comes in a product of global science, technology and manufacturing.
When I was a wee boy we were told that Irn Bru, made in Camlachie in the east end of Glasgow (hence its posh name 'Chateau Camlachie'), was 'brewed frae girders' which came from the nearby Ravenscraig steel works. So I know where Irn Bru comes from, don't I? But what about the can I'm drinking it from, that someone will recycle after I've binned it? We are truly in a global economy and in this real economy most people work hard for pretty modest returns.
There is another economy populated by the money boys (and girls) where avarice is honoured. It is populated by the wild and greedy speculators who were the true architects of the financial crisis. With the support of our political leaders, whose interests lie primarily with them, the money boys continue to pay themselves obscene salaries and award each other unearned bonuses.
Meanwhile they treat any sense of democracy or decency with contempt and have been known to dismiss the rest of us as 'pond life'. They have been, and continue to be, cavalier about the drop in living standards of most of the population. They have presided over massive unemployment, partly masked by part time jobs and zero hours contracts and others being forced into 'working for their benefits'. They have, without any sense of shame, given tax cuts to the wealthiest whilst imposing the so-called 'spare room subsidy' - a bedroom tax - on the poorest. Then they paint all this as being just, fair and supportive of 'hard working families'.
They have raised to an absolute art form the power of propaganda to say that black is white and white is black. The on-going assault on people with disabilities through the fitness for work assessments are made out to be 'opportunities' when they know fine well there is no work. They maintain their steadfast denial, in the face of every scrap of evidence, that the burgeoning of foodbanks has anything to do with their policies. Its like we are living in an Alice in Wonderland world with a succession of Mad Hatters in charge and no sign of any escape on the horizon. It makes it hard to have dreams of a fairer more equitable society where prosperity is shared and the weak and elderly are valued and protected.
At the last meeting of the Dundee Fairness Commission it was asserted that 'grinding poverty and vast inequality are not inevitable'. So, if we believe that, what are we going to do?