Many were the portents of doom in the final weeks of John Major's administration in London. Much wailing was there, and gnashing of teeth. Far be it from me to allude to any augurs here, and nor do I imply any philosophical support of positive discrimination (for discrimination cannot be made graceful by a pretty adjective, no more than can "labour" or poor music be given stature by the prefix "new"), but after many years the Tower of London still stands, and despite cameras on every corner, our administration is, as it has always been, far too muddled to set up either a dictatorship, or do much of either good or harm.

The major issue which has come to light on either side of the Great Sea has been the obsession with property ownership. This has been treated as a shrine, a Golden Calf to whose wind all caution has been cast. I could not believe the risks the outgoing U.S. administration has taken in underwriting these failed bets, as should the strategy go wrong the only resourse is to print money, and we must remember that what has happened in Zimbabwe could happen anywhere. Property ownership should be considered with the risk assessment any of us traders would otherwise use, namely a small, limited proportion of our assets. To treat property ownership almost as a human right has greatly inflated its price. However, if property ownership is viewed as land ownership, we must consider what that means philosophically -as we are on this fair planet as but guests and cannot aspire to own any part of it (though we try to enhance it). This is similar to the even more universal belief that our fellow creatures are likewise there for our ownership, distribution, and an end which poses the question who is to be pitied more, the animals or us?

The most we can ever hope to own, and even this is not certain, is our capacity to think freely, and to follow our own personal agendas.


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