President, Scottish Bakers
When I was a young lad in the 1950s, a million of anything seemed almost inconceivable. A really rich person was literally a millionaire and I struggled to comprehend anything beyond that. Today, we bandy billions and even trillions around and therein lies the nub of it. Our civil servants, our political masters and, of course, our footballers have lost the plot. They are drowning in a sea of nothings and they don’t even know exactly what they mean.
How big is a trillion? Believe it or not, our masters aren’t sure. Here in Britain it has 18 zeroes, but in the USA it only has 12. That’s a great start. So be really careful next time you’re buying dollars.
I was prompted into these musings when I learnt that the Saville Report on Bloody Sunday cost £191m. Was I the only one to be staggered by this amount? Where did it all go?
In the USA, normally the natural habitat of greedy lawyers, the 9/11 inquiry lasted 20 months and cost $15m! Thanks to Saville, 12 lawyers trousered £20m between them, with Messrs Clarke & Glasgow, QCs, getting £8.5m of that. The report itself ran to 30,000,000 words, so that’s £6 a word. That’s up there with Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
My point is that the numbers are getting too big. We need to do what France and Italy used to do on a regular basis and revalue our currency. Let’s divide everything by 10 and have a New Pound. Then those dreadful footballers would only earn £5,000 a week and a loaf of bread would be 10p to 15p. The reality of our national financial plight would, in reality, remain unchanged. But at least our masters might understand the numbers better and we wouldn’t hate footballers quite so much.