Thank you, Mr George W Bush Jr, for that pearl of wisdom, up there with “Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease” and “I couldn’t imagine someone like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah”. You need to take more water with it, George.
Actually, I’m not of the school of thought which maintains that Georgie is a total retard. Surely, surely you can’t possibly get as far as president of the US if you have the IQ of a cockroach? I’m inclined to think he was a victim of bored soundbite-writers – OK guys, today’s challenge is to get him to say “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully”. Bottle of Californian rosé and a Big Mac for anyone who manages it. Let’s face it, if you were president would you waste your time wading through all that stuff in advance? No, you’d go to the pub and read it off the autocue on the day.
Barack Obama, while looking from here like a much more sensible choice of president, really doesn’t have the same comedy value. Anyone nostalgic for that sort of thing will have to wait for Sarah Palin next time round, although leaving comedic potential aside, we really need to hope for all our sakes that the mad bint doesn’t actually win. Still, with any luck her campaign will provide grist to the mill for About.com’s Sarah Palin Insane-O-Matic Quote Generator.
Fans of loony US politics will meanwhile just have to make do with the population’s reaction to the suggestion that healthcare for people other than hedge fund managers and the CEOs of multinational companies might be a worthwhile idea. ‘Socialism by the back door!’ they thunder. ‘Unconstitutional!’ ‘How dare you!’. Errrr ….. OK then, off you go and die of something eminently treatable, see if I care. Weirdos.
Europeans generally find the American deployment of the word ‘socialism’ as a debate-closer a bit baffling, partly because they tend to use it to cover anything which isn’t an every-man-for-himself capitalist free for all and partly because we’ve seen the real thing in operation in most of its recent incarnations, from Ken Livingston-stylee pinko through New Labour to out-and-out Stalin, so we more or less see it as just another option, and one with good points and bad ones. (Really quite bad ones, in Uncle Joe’s case, though apparently his fellow Georgians are now getting all nostalgic for his reign of terror and describing him as a ‘strong leader’. Which goes to show just how wilfully self-deluded people can be.)
But I digress (something for which I am not covered by our subversive universal healthcare system, unfortunately). According to our good friend Wikipedia, entrepreneur is originally a loan word from French, which would rather seem to piss on George’s strawberries. A literal translation gives you ‘between-taker’, which suggests that it originally meant middleman – not quite what Dubya had in mind, I should think. But the meaning has clearly changed over the years, and Wikipedia tells us that the modern entrepreneur is “an individual in possession of a new enterprise … and assumes significant responsibility for the in herent risks and the outcome”. One imagines that this definition is much more to George’s liking.
Brits in France will often tell you that the French don’t do much work, aren’t entrepreneurial, don’t encourage small business, would all rather work for the state ….. blah etc. Which is odd really, considering that I meet far more independent business owners here than I ever did in the UK. What’s more, none of them looks particularly destitute – our former neighbours who have the little supermarket have just built a big house and bought a whopping 4×4, the one-man-band electrician I used to deal with for First Choice has taken on staff and opened a shop and JC’s former boss at Marché U has just sold his business for several million. Still, maybe they’re all arms dealers and the whole legit business thing is just a front for laundering money. Titter ye not – we had ETA terrorists holed up in a resort in the Maurienne last summer. It all happens round here, you know.
Our most recent local recruits to the whacky world of smaill business are a bunch of enterprising teenagers who have launched what can only be described as a rickshaw service, though they like to call it a vélotaxi.
The youngsters (or more likely someone’s Dad) have welded a couple of bikes together two abreast and then attached a two-wheeled carriage arrangement to the back. The carriage boasts an awning and a wooden bench made comfy with a few brightly coloured cushions, and the whole contraption is powered by various healthy-looking 15(ish)-year-old rickshaw-wallahs who cheerfully circle the town, honking adenoidally on the old fashioned horns attached to their handlebars. Tourists (who, as noted before, leave their brains behind when going on holiday) seem delighted with a rickshaw tour of the town, and wot not of the fact that the whole thing was clearly cobbled together in someone’s garage and is probably of rather dubious roadworthiness.
No doubt a dozen people will be along at any moment to leave sniffy comments about irresponsible parents, health ‘n’ safety, insurance, other road users, yada, drone, zzzzzzz etc. And if that’s you, stop ask yourself exactly what it is that’s stifling the go-getting entrepreneuial spirit here, alleged French laziness or the bossy busybody attitude of people just like you?