I read manuscripts for a living and one of the new batch that arrived by bike this afternoon is a book called 'In Praise of Nepotism' by a guy called Adam Bellow - Saul Bellow's son. And it is, unironically, what it claims to be - a book defending the hereditary principle and arguing that meritocracy has been over-rated and that the rich and famous have the right to expect the same life style for their children. Bellow believes that the only way to make family values work is to assume that family is all important - you do give preferential treatment to your son or your daughter or your niece or your nephew and it is all right to do so. Bellow acknowledges that this is tough on groups who have traditionally been excluded from wealth, but, being by heredity rich and distinguished himself, regards this as a price we have to pay for the transmission of social and cultural values.
Put this beside the Bush Presidency's attacks on inheritance tax and we are actually seeing the creation of an aristocracy in the US, just at the point when we were finally managing to get them off our backs here, a bit. Oh well, they will need a lot of hereditary senators when Bush crowns himself George the First - or will he crown his father so that he has the legitimacy of being a descendant? The trouble with that is, he is George the Second, and that brings them closer to the American Emperor who tries to break the charm implicit in being called George the Third...
Guillotines may be called for - or can you still say that.
Meanwhile, on the subject of abuse of free speech, check out what jennyo and I did last night when we should have been working or at least thinking chaste thoughts.