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The devastation and loss of life caused by Hurricane Katrina is tragic, of course. But still more tragic is the inability of the world's greatest nation to either avoid, or deal with, a natural phenomenon which occurs several times every year in that part of the world. Did it not occur to them that millions of people were living below sea-level? Didn't they think of keeping an eye on the dykes to make sure they weren't going to collapse? The Dutch have been managing it for centuries, so it can't be hard.
 
And when they did collapse, it seems to have taken several days to convince the government that this might be a problem. There wasn't enough food available, they had no fresh water standing by, they ran out of petrol, 20% of the police-force were too scared to turn up for work, gangs of gunmen took to the streets riding round in pickup trucks and shooting at people as if they were in Baghdad . The whole thing is a gigantic cock-up, frankly.
 
And this is the nation that sees itself as the world's policeman. This is the nation that thinks it's entitled to invade and topple any foreign government it doesn't approve of. This is the nation that won't allow anyone else to develop nuclear potential but maintains enough weapons for itself to destroy the planet several times over. This is the nation that uses up 25% of the world's resources and refuses to join the rest of us in trying to limit pollution and halt global warming (I hear that they've had to ration petrol in some places - each driver is only allowed to buy forty gallons. I rest my case!).
 
Not that we're much better, to be honest. A book's just been published (The Economist Pocket World in Figures, published by Profile Books) that claims Great Britain enjoys a quality of life roughly equivalent to places like Slovenia and South Korea. Our balance of payments deficit is the second largest in the world, and we have the highest office rents anywhere. It's not all bad, though - we produce more oil than Kuwait. And have the highest petrol prices in Europe. Hmm
 
And what of our own flood defences? Is London really prepared? We don't have hurricanes, of course - but we did in 1987. We don't have major floods, either - but we did in 1953; my brother-in-law was floated to safety in a drawer. If there were another storm like the one in 1987 which happened to coincide with a spring tide (and there are two of those a month, and every year and a half a monster one called the Proxigean Spring Tide) the south-east of England could be in real trouble. Have our authorities planned for this? Have they bollocks.
 
On the other hand, consider the Swiss. Their trains are clean, comfortable, and always run on time. Their countryside is charming and unpolluted. You never see any poor people littering the streets (they may exist, of course, but I've never seen any - perhaps they tidy them away somewhere). They have several different nationalities living side by side in perfect harmony. Their Catholic population have never declared war on the non-Catholics. They live among enormous mountains but have sufficient sense not to get in the way of avalanches. They've displayed a miraculous determination not to get involved in anyone else's fights. And they've got almost all the bent money in the world.
 
Now I ask you, is that not an intelligent nation?
 
How's this for a plan? All the countries of the world should get together to disband the United Nations, break up the EU, tell George Bush and his little friend Tony to go away into a corner and lick each other's bottoms or something, and pay the Swiss to run everything.
 
Problem solved.
 

 
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