Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics


Paul Krugman has taken on the Conservatives’ new budget, which proposes tax cuts, spending increases (until the election) and reducing the budget deficit in some unspecified way.

Osborne produces a ludicrous budget, and even commentators who acknowledge that it’s ludicrous give him credit for showing

a keen understanding of the constraints facing the country

Think about that: someone says that 2+2=5, and gets credit, because it shows that he recognizes how hard it is to live within the constraint of 2+2 just equalling 4.

Admittedly, it looks like vote-grubbing flimflam, but maybe we’re misunderestimating (to use a phrase popular among conservative Georges) the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Maybe, when you look past the snazzy new haircut we would see a soul in existential crisis, who would cry out from the floor of the Commons like Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man:

“Upon my word, they will shout at you, it is no use protesting: it is a case of twice two makes four! Nature does not ask your permission, she has nothing to do with your wishes, and whether you like her laws or dislike them, you are bound to accept her as she is, and consequently all her conclusions. A wall, you see, is a wall … and so on, and so on.”

Merciful Heavens! but what do I care for the laws of nature and arithmetic, when, for some reason I dislike those laws and the fact
that twice two makes four? Of course I cannot break through the wall by battering my head against it if I really have not the strength to knock it down, but I am not going to be reconciled to it simply because it is a stone wall and I have not the strength.

As though such a stone wall really were a consolation, and really did contain some word of conciliation, simply because it is as true as twice two makes four. Oh, absurdity of absurdities! How much better it is to understand it all, to recognise it all, all the impossibilities and the stone wall; not to be reconciled to one of those impossibilities and stone walls if it disgusts you to be reconciled to it; by the way of the most inevitable, logical combinations to reach the most revolting conclusions on the everlasting theme, that even for the stone wall you are yourself somehow to blame, though again it is as clear as day you are not to blame in the least…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: