Archimedes with his bath, Newton with his apple – and I. We all had a flash of genius, and I use this word advisedly. Theirs was displayed in physics, mine in economics, and that’s the only difference.
Or rather, false modesty aside, I’m an even greater genius than those underachievers, because their eureka moments followed years of thought, whereas mine took barely a minute or two.
Some naysayers may demand proof of my status next to those giants, and I can just see those smug yeah-yeah smirks on their faces. Wipe them off, you negativists – proof is on the way.
The problem is serious. Our greengrocers are in danger of having nothing to sell, while our pubs and restaurants may have no one to sell their wares.
The first group suffers from a severe shortage of fruit pickers, meaning that this year’s crop may well rot unpicked. The second group also faces a recruitment crisis, with no one to fill roughly 350,000 vacancies for waiters and kitchen staff.
Both problems, according to our analysts, are caused by a mass exodus of Romanians, Bulgarians, Spaniards, Italians et al. due to a combination of Covid and Brexit. Facing a hiatus in their employment, with the hospitality business temporarily out of business, and fruit taking its time to ripen, those foreigners have upped their sticks and decamped back to their native lands.
Sea resorts are about to reopen in the sunnier European climes, and those money-grubbing ingrates think they can make a better living out there than over here. Moreover, they may inexplicably prefer, say, Portofino to Portchester and decide to stick around, leaving their former British employers in the lurch – after all we’ve done for them.
If our eateries run out of staff, they won’t reopen their doors, and if greengrocers run out of fruit, they’ll close theirs. But you can count on me to solve such seemingly insurmountable problems with room to spare.
I took my tattered thinking cap off the mothballs, put it on and sat down to mull the problem over. Since robots can’t yet to be programmed to be rude to customers and still demand tips, while fruit can’t be trained to pick itself, there’s no substitute for hands on deck.
And since those hands have hitherto belonged to foreigners who have now gone home, the employment pool must draw on homegrown talents. Yet here’s the rub, according to one of London’s prominent Italian chefs: “There is no chance of finding a Brit to do this job.”
Hence the problem appears to be tripartite. Part 1. Restaurants and pubs have 350,000 jobs to fill, and orchard owners perhaps another 50,000. Part 2. These jobs used to be done by foreigners who are no longer available. Part 3. Britons (a better locution than ‘Brits’, by the way) can’t be bovvered to do those jobs.
The solution is also a multi-stage process, which starts with three questions. Why won’t young Britons wish to be gainfully employed, if only in menial jobs? Do they have better jobs? If not, don’t they need food? (See St Paul to the Thessalonians: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”)
It turns out that 575,000 young people aged 16-24 are currently unemployed. And yet one hardly ever encounters a starving native-born youngster stumbling down the street. Ergo, as Newton might have said, they don’t work and still eat.
Then I posed a follow-up question. Assuming that most of these youngsters can work and yet don’t, how do they feed themselves? The answer came to me in an instant: they don’t feed themselves. We do.
Acting as the intermediate stage in this process is the Exchequer, which makes us pay taxes and then uses the realised revenue to feed 575,000 youngsters who don’t want to work but still want to eat, thereby defying St Paul.
It took me about 30 seconds of juxtaposing all those numerals before a bolt of lightning struck.
If the Exchequer removed their welfare cheques without reducing their appetite, those youngsters would have to look for money elsewhere. And what do you know: money is on offer, in the shape of the roughly 400,000 vacancies mentioned above – and they won’t even have to risk prison by stealing.
There we are, all the dots connected, job (or rather 400,000 jobs) done. Pubs and restaurants reopen, greengrocers don’t close, all those youngsters are no longer humiliated by handouts, finding instead the pride of honest work.
All that’s left to do is for someone to nominate me for a Nobel prize in economics – or, more realistically, to report me to the authorities as a crypto-fascist badly in need of re-education and possibly incarceration. Any volunteers?
P.S. Greta Thunberg has been half-vindicated. Since this month is the coldest April in 99 years, climate is indeed changing. Alas, it’s changing in the wrong direction. Please, Lord, can we have global warming back?