Friday, December 23, 2011

Live by the market, be buried by the market

Margaret Thatcher is one of Britain's greatest criminals, whose disbelief in society caused her to destroy it. As a former Prime Minister, she is in line for a state funeral when she dies (which will provide a focus for protest over her toxic legacy). Which is rather ironic, given her beliefs about the role of the state. And so someone has started an e-petition (a formal UK government consultation exercise which can trigger Parliamentary debates) demanding that her funeral be privatised:

In keeping with the great lady's legacy, Margaret Thatcher's state funeral should be funded and managed by the private sector to offer the best value and choice for end users and other stakeholders. The undersigned believe that the legacy of the former PM deserves nothing less and that offering this unique opportunity is an ideal way to cut government expense and further prove the merits of liberalised economics Baroness Thatcher spearheaded.
And they're right. Thatcher was an anti-statist. Surely she should live - and be buried - by those ideals, rather than leeching a final fling at the expense of hard-working taxpayers. Anything less would be hypocritical.

Meanwhile, on the Guardian, Sunny Hundal has some ideas on what Thatcher's privatised funeral could look like:

Consider the endless possibilities, for die-hard Thatcherites, of privatising the event. I think we can agree it should be ticketed so it can turn a profit. Perhaps an IT company (let's call them Crapita for example), could sell tickets via the internet. You may have to wait a couple of months to get the system off the ground but at least it'll work … eventually. If it's anything like the privatisation of the railways, none of the funeral services would run on time and you'd end up with 500 people in a church meant for 200.

But there could be optional extras otherwise denied by the state. You could pay to have an opportunity to wail, as North Koreans seem to have perfected. Wailing while stabbing a picture of Arthur Scargill should obviously cost much more. Opportunities to sell Thatcher memorabilia (a picture of her with Pinochet, sir?) would be endless. It could even boost our sagging economy.

The television rights to the event should be auctioned off, perhaps for a private library dedicated to Thatcher (with John Maynard Keynes banned from the economics section of course).

Unmentioned: selling the right to spit on the corpse or piss on her grave (because its going to happen, so they might as well get money for it). Hell, they could even provide the service, so that those unable to attend in person could have someone do it for them.

Morality? Taste? The market does not know of such things. And if you're happy with the mass unemployment, poverty and degradation which were the inevitable result of Thatcher's policies, you can hardly get prissy about a little matter of degrading a corpse. But if you want to be hypocritical about that too, you can always pay for it not to happen. That's what the free market would want.