Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Outsiders

(I grew up in a village very much like the one that I'm about to describe, but it's unlikely that any real village would develop in exactly the way that this one developed.  Which is another way of saying - don't take it too literally, because it's just for fun).

The village was originally a mining town but the seam ran dry in 1928, so the locals had to find a new way of life.  They settled on agriculture and for fifty years, life went on much as it had done, but overground rather than underground.

The farm jobs were poorly paid but the people of the village were a community, and everyone knew everyone, and everyone was happy, or at least they pretended to be in public.

By the mid-eighties though, the villagers were feeling the strain.  Farming didn't pay well and the kids were all moving away to the City, chasing bright lights and excitement.  The village was dying, just a lot of old, angry, crinkly people in a sleepy corner of the country, getting crinklier and angrier.

The people petitioned the Council.  How come our neighbours in the City are so well-off, they asked, and we have bugger-all and are left hoiking tatties for fifty-seven pence an hour?  We can't get jobs in the City, because it takes forever to get there, and our kids can't wait to get away.  The village is dying on its arse. 

So the Council thought it over and luckily, a huge government grant came their way.  And so the Council spent that grant on a massive dual-carriageway road that connected the village to the City.

Now, the villagers could get into the City three times quicker, for half the cost, with full access to all those jobs and opportunities that had been denied to them for so long.

Perfect, the Council thought.  Now everyone will be happy and we won't have so many complaints. 

But sadly for the Council, it didn't work out like that.  Sure, the villagers could now access the City, and they could get jobs and bring money into the village, and they were a lot wealthier than they'd ever been before.  They could go out and see a movie or have some dinner with the extra money that they earned, if they wanted to, and they could buy whatever crap makes people happy. 

But the villagers still weren't happy.

They weren't happy because now the massive dual-carriageway road had brought their village into the commuter belt for the City, and suddenly it was filling up with Outsiders who wanted to raise their kids outside of the City, in a nice little village full of nice, happy people.  Which meant that every house that became vacant was soon occupied by an Outsider and, since houses in the village were now worth lots of money, houses became vacant very often.

Very often.

And while the Outsiders brought in money - lots of money - most of it was spent in the new shops and the new supermarket, which quickly replaced the old shops.  And while there were a lot of jobs going in the new supermarket, most of them paid pretty badly.

So the villagers petitioned the Council and said, We didn't want this.  And, We're not happy.  There are lots of Outsiders taking over our way of life.

And they weren't being overdramatic - it was true.  The Outsiders had lots of ideas about the school sports day and the village gala day, and how the village pub could be tarted up a little, and they weren't shy at all about making their opinions known.  And, being Outsiders, they did it in a really annoying, Outsidery way, as Outsiders do.

Soon, companies started building new housing estates on the edge of the village, but the local kids who actually wanted to buy houses near their parents - not that there were many - were utterly outpriced by Outsiders, and had to move miles and miles away.

Well, this annoyed the villagers more and more.  They started to notice that it was more difficult to get an appointment at the doctor's surgery than it had been before all these new Outsiders moved in.  Suddenly, the Council weren't paying complaints about accommodation the attention that they had done before, and the local schools were bursting at the seams.

And so, the villagers decided to vote for a new Council, a Council who would put a stop to the influx of Outsiders.  There was only one problem, though - the villagers were mostly old and cranky, and the only councillors paying attention to them were properly mean and nasty.

So the villagers all voted for the meanest, nastiest motherfuckers on the ballot, and those politicians instituted huge cuts to local public services, much to the old villagers' delight. 

But the Outsiders noticed, and didn't much appreciate the slashed budgets to local education and healthcare, even if it left the Outsiders better off personally, because they were basically rich.

As you can imagine, any time the villagers and the Outsiders tried to discuss this, it didn't go very well.  It was almost like they had a shared interest, but whenever they tried to discuss it they found that there were insuperable barriers between them, for some unfathomable reason.

And so the very happy village split between the pissed-off villagers and the pissed-off Outsiders, who shared a basic interest in the wellbeing of the village but couldn't agree on how to manage it, and the Council had to make some hard choices.

This is the choice that the Council has to make:

A) Ignore the Outsiders and rip up the road.

B) Ignore the villagers, and leave things as they are.

C) Drastically reform the entirety of modern global capitalism.


Which would you choose?

Points to remember - the villagers have democratically precluded any kind of government investment in services or housing, so that's out.

And this is before anyone with a particular financial or political interest gets in there and starts stoking mischief.

(A note here - My parents moved to a village much like this in 1981, where they raised me.  They're still Outsiders to this day, and so am I).

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