“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” asked the Beatles.
Don’t have a clue, is my answer. All sorts of things can cause loneliness: one’s own hermetic tendencies or rotten disposition, the olfactory aspect of personal hygiene, rowdy drunkenness, excessive fastidiousness in choosing friends, outliving one’s friends and family.
But not to worry: we’ll soon find out exactly where all the lonely people come from. More important, they won’t be lonely any longer – the state will take care of that. “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life,” commiserated our PM Tessa. “I want to confront this challenge for our society.”
And confront it she has. Tessa has just appointed Tracy Crouch as First Minister for Loneliness. So worry naught, all you lonely people. Tracy and Tessa will look after you.
The urgent need to create yet another ministerial post arose when it was discovered that nine million Britons live in isolation. That, you must agree, is a serious problem, and who better than Tracy and Tessa to solve it?
As a lifelong believer in an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent government, the bigger and more central the better, I’m sure that the public purse can solve any private problem.
However, here’s the rub: numerically, loneliness isn’t the greatest problem in Britain.
The American comedian George Carlin once quipped: “You know how stupid the average person is? Well, I’ve got news for you: half the people are even more stupid than that.”
Though offered in jest, this points at another blight affecting Britain: statistically speaking, the number of idiots must greatly exceed nine million.
If you seek empirical proof, just look at the number of Corbyn supporters; people who believe that after Brexit we won’t have French wine; those who think wind farms can provide all the energy we need; champions of global warming; chaps who feel that allowing two men to marry strengthens the institution of marriage; those who agree with Richard Dawkins that evolution explains everything.
So yes, a first minister for loneliness (is there also a second one?) is a jolly good idea. But let’s sort out our priorities. If there are more idiots than loners, we need to appoint a First Minister for Idiocy before we do anything else.
And while we’re at it, there are many other snags in the human condition that the state is uniquely qualified to eliminate. For example, my wife often burns my breakfast toast – and I bet millions of other Britons suffer from the same ordeal.
Hence Tessa must urgently appoint a First Minister for Burnt Toast to alleviate the suffering of all those men on whose behalf I’m speaking herein.
Neither should we forget millions of people traumatised by having to queue up for anything. My heart bleeds for them: the appointment of First Minister for Queues is urgently needed.
Also, if you have any compassion in your heart, think of the plight of redheaded and corpulent people (routinely dismissed as, respectively, ‘ginger tossers’ and ‘fat bastards’), Welshmen (‘sheep shaggers’) and people ridiculed for preaching the impending environmental catastrophe caused by aerosol sprays (‘tree huggers’).
They’re all crying out for a new ministry dedicated to lifting their gloom. I’m not sure about the relative numbers involved, but it’s nothing that a multi-billion research programme can’t find out. A few more billion – and hey presto, sorted. Jean-Jacques is your uncle, Tessa is your aunt.
All this sounds crazy, I know. But it’s not I who’s crazy, but the world where people have been brainwashed to believe that any problem can be solved if the government can throw a few billion at it.
This goes against reams of evidence showing that large-scale state interference doesn’t solve problems. It either makes them worse or creates new ones.
A war on poverty makes more people poor; an attempt to redistribute wealth destroys it; an overhaul of education promotes ignorance; a war to end all wars leads to more and bloodier wars. At the end of all that bungling nothing beckons but an even greater expansion of the state, a further reduction of liberty.
For make no mistake about it: the more the state does (or rather claims to do) for you, the more it’ll do to you. Every ministry, apart from the four or five essential ones, isn’t there to cure social ills. It’s there to increase state power at your expense.
Yet loneliness can be a serious problem. So, abandoning my prior facetiousness, I’d like to offer a serious solution – with no new sinecure anywhere in sight.
If you’re lonely, start going to church every Sunday. Introduce yourself to the priest or vicar, buy him a cup of tea or a pint (the latter would be the preference of most vicars I know). Tell him you’re lonely, see what he says and does.
He’ll probably tell you that, metaphysically, you’re never lonely when you’re with God. And in purely practical terms, he’ll introduce you to other parishioners with whom you can go out for a cuppa or a pint after the service. Before long you’ll have as many friends as you can handle.
So there’s the problem of loneliness, solved. Solving the problem of rampant statism is more difficult and, in today’s world, probably impossible.