News that the coalition's Big Society Tsar, Lord Wei, 'is to scale back his hours after discovering that working for free three days a week is incompatible with "having a life"' proves once again that life imitates not so much art as satire. Like The Onion's "fuck everything we're doing five blades" or Daily Mash's once-imaginery TV show "America's fattest bitch", satire finds itself the shortest step behind reality when the man in charge of getting people to give up their time for the Big Society realises he simply hasn't the time.
In fact, the only people who seem able to afford the time to work for the still-nascent Big Society for nothing are those with no need to earn a living - millionaires like Martha Lane Fox and Lord Heseltine.
Which perhaps suggests an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
Any of which could work fine, but what we seem to have here is a genuine societal need for people to do a bunch of unpaid work for the greater good. We've apparently tried getting ordinary people to do it and, big surprise, they can't afford to work for nothing. Obviously only the rich can. They already run the place if they can be bothered to do so, and we need their money to dig ourselves out of a massive fiscal black hole. So let them take over the running of public services, for a fee. There's apparently 280,000 millionaires in the country. Some of them will have won the lottery or inherited it, but many people get rich through hard work, innovation, taking sensible risks and making good decisions. Screw taxing them at 50% and giving them two (almost completely useless) votes - tax them at 50% and then get them to run something. That's a big society that might even work.