...I would like to take up one point in your latest post, when you decry: "... politicians' feebleness in responding to the overborrowed state of the economy, ...". In my view, this is a Catch 22 situation. If a party in Britain, France or anywhere else were to run on a platform of fiscal (or for that matter ecological) rigour, and if that party were to spell out what such a programme would entail for each and every one of us, said party WOULD NEVER GET ELECTED! Will things ever change? Yes, either, and most probably, the economy collapses completely and some sort of semi-democratic government takes over, or, less likely but far more positive, the electorate at long last shows the necessary intelligence to vote in a party prepared to tell the truth and to promise to do something about it.
I truly believe that our present predicament is not, as so often asserted, an indictment of our politicians, but much more a condemnation of us, the electorate. When we criticize successive governments, we are in effect criticizing ourselves. With so much knowledge and information freely available nowadays, we can no longer plausibly say that we have been hoodwinked by our politicians. We know perfectly well what we are doing when we vote in a government dedicated to NOT confronting the problems facing us.
As someone who has very often been proved long in the course of my life, I do believe it really is up to us show the way forward. We almost did this in the case of the Iraq War (not me personally, I'm ashamed to say) but we show little sign in pushing politicians a little nearer in the direction of financial and economic reality...
In Britain today I am not sure that you are right (Iraq war apart where I believe the people were lied to anyway). We have I think at last begun to appreciate that the nation is so heavily indebted that national payback time now looms large. Many were expecting details of how the pain of payback is to be shared between us, to be set out in the Chancellor's recent pre-budget statement. Had he done so and added some real painful specifics like VAT being increased food and children's clothing apart, to 20% he would have improved the present governments prospects of doing well in the 2010 elections. Instead we/they were disappointed as he and his colleagues played politics by announcing taxes on banker's bonuses etc. which will hardly even make a dent in the nation's debt mountains and then throwing in some decrying of the Leader of the Opposition's Eton education - which will make not one iota of difference to the nation's debt pile.
This feebleness may ironically have done the nation some favours as the voters being more sophisticated than the present government likes to think, may well choose to govern us from 2010, people from an other party which transparently promises pain and realism rather than those from the party which tries play politics. 'Fiddling whilst Rome Burns' is the saying which comes to mind.
However there are limits on what politicians can do anyway and as you suggest individuals' actions count for more than politcians' words. The Times newspaper, which I do not usually read, was delivered to the maytrees' household this morning instead of the Indy. It contains an interesting article on life in Malawi Africa some 50 years ago under British rule and life there today under local politicians' rule. The main thrust of the article was to suggest that almost literally, nothing has changed there over that time span and that all the politicians do then and now is little more than scratch the surface of people's lives there. A bit of flag waving, some policing, meagre primary education, no jobs and a few roads. Malawi according to the reporter is full of friendly non-violent people so why the lack of 'progress' one may ask? Possibly an answer is to be found in how we choose to define progress. Maybe the pereceived definition will have to be re-visited in the UK as well as elesewhere when the repayment of the debt mountain begins to make us rein in or excessive consumerism.
Maybe also the words emanating from Copenhagen will be appreciated as being mere weasel words, only when harsh realities and nations-wide lack of cash compel individuals and their politicians to reduce the methods and volumes of production and personal consumption that are endangering life as we know it on this planet.