I wasn't around to see the football of the late 1970s and was unable to gather a full understanding of what took place for most of the next decade. Watching old matches on television often leaves this bunny with the impression that the whole experience of the game back then was different, with more fun being had by players and supporters alike (several people who were around at the time have confirmed the validity of such perceptions). One could imagine the response of a coach in the modern era if his wide player, upon beating the full back chose not to play the ball into the box, but retreats ten yards while retaining possession, to pit his wits a second time against the same opposing number.
This of course is the thinking of a type of individual who could only be deemed a luxury in 21st century football, where of course every player is required to be an attacker, defender and more than anything a wholehearted team player. Mickey Thomas was one such individual, a wideman gifted with a penchant for the unpredictable, but equally prone to long spells of inactivity and anonymity. However, while the game of football has (for better or worse) moved on in a direction that has rendered performers of his ilk obsolete, the former Man United and Everton star was very much ahead of his time with regard to his later, er...career.
Anyone who believes quantitative easing to be a relatively new phenomenon should do some digging into how Thomas understood its value the best part of two decades ago. In his many appearances as an after-dinner speaker, one of his favourite jokes was to namedrop a United player who'd just signed a lucrative contract (for example, Rio Ferdinand's £100,000 a week deal) and play it down, "people go on about Rio being on a hundred grand a week - hey, so was I until the police found my machine". Brilliant stuff, only the powers that be did not see the funny side at the time, sentencing 'the Welsh Tenner' to 18 months hard labour for his personal endeavours towards providing an 'economic stimulus'.
At some point since 1993, there has clearly been a change of heart, since Mickey's unique take on control of the money supply has clearly provided the inspiration for Uk governments of both persuasions to do the same (ok, it was either him or Robert Mugabe, take your pick). Statists of course have a nice word or phrase for everything - the policing of thought comes under the umbrella of 'fighting discrimination', large-scale swindling of property is all in the name of 'helping the most vulnerable' and now State-sponsored counterfeiting and theft from the general population is 'quantitative easing'.
The idea, apparently, is for the Bank of England to buy £75 billion worth of government bonds or assets (I'm amazed they actually exist, but there you go) in the hope that banks will lend the money to businesses and stimulate some much-needed growth. With the economy flatlining at a dismal 0.1% it does have the look of a batsman waiting for legendary umpire Steve Bucknor to raise the finger, millimetre at a time and slowly give him out - something along the lines of lingering death. The never-ending string of Statist measures to prop up their failing economic model is of course nothing more than their attempt to delay the inevitable, thereby increasing the size of the crater when the day of reckoning finally comes.
QE is just the latest of a long line, and like most of the others it is ultimately doomed to failure. Even its apologists acknowledge that if the volume of money supplied into the economy is insufficient, or the banks choose not to lend it, then the whole exercise will be ineffective, while travelling too far in the opposite direction can potentially lead to a Zimbabwe-style meltdown. Somewhere on this 'laffer curve of risk' is believed to be a point where the economy is kick-started into signs of life, without the adverse inflationary effects that would logically go with it - the credibility of such a thesis is itself dubious, but what is beyond doubt is that previous attempts to find 'the growth spot' have been wide of the target.
Then there is the principle of the whole thing - Mickey Thomas wound up in chokey for a very good reason, namely because 'quantitative easing' as the State likes to label it, is nothing other than theft. Many of us (this bunny included) have been reckless and saw debt as 'a good idea at the time', but what about those who took a more responsible and prudent path? It is the fruits of their labours, endeavours and wise choices that are set to rapidly diminish in value as a direct consequence of a deliberately orchestrated government policy. Some five minutes after camera-chasing politicians queued up to condemn the assortment of chavs who took to looting, they seem determined to cash in on a piece of the action themselves. Snaffling something nice from JD Sports is clearly beneath their ambitions.
One wonders if the architects of State-sponsored counterfeiting gave a moment's thoughts to existing pensioners, stuck as they are on fixed incomes, or future ones who look set to suffer from reduced bond yields. Low-earners, about whom successive governments have claimed to care so, so much will feel the pinch even harder until whenever their next pay rise comes along - Statists of course care nothing for ordinary people when the preservation of their rotten edifice is at stake. The big winners, as is often the case, are the banks - beneficiaries already from vast quantities of taxpayers money and a government determined to protect them from the deserved consequences of failure.
If they're absolutely determined to persist with this QE madness, then why not go the whole hog and divide the £75 billion amongst every adult in the Uk? Imagine the chaos in town centres on a day when the general population benefited from a slice of 'free money' - shops, cafes, bars and football grounds would be packed as we all pretended to be a whole lot more affluent than we actually were. Sure, this ultimately adds to the size of the heap, but it would be an altogether more joyous experience than watching bigshots in the city do the same thing - it would also be one of the few moves made by government that could be guaranteed to win them an election.
I'll leave you with highlights of a memorable FA Cup tie between Wrexham and Arsenal in 1992 - this of course was 37-year old Mickey Thomas's last famous on-field contribution, as he scores a superb free kick to level the scores at 1-1 en route to a shock victory for the Welsh side (based on the previous season's placings, this match pitted bottom of Division Four against reigning League champions). The odds on Thomas to score in a Wrexham victory prior to the game would have certainly been spectacular - it's also a safe bet when one has the capacity to instantly replace any money they lose. Of course, he was not to know that this sideline would eventually become government policy, and unlike this 'growth strategy', his shot that January afternoon at the Racecourse was bang on the money. Take care and I'll catch you soon.