Saturday, March 28, 2009

Onset of our limpet mine

In wars of yore, a deadly weapon against ships was the limpet mine, which would be deployed by elite commandos. They would swim under a hull and deploy a magnetised explosive charge that would clang onto the maritime metal, clinging on like a malevolent barnacle until the inevitable 'ka-boom'.

These last couple of days, our own 11-month-old limpet mine has been attaching itself to us with a ferocious obstinacy. He's been stuck at home with us (or both of his grandmothers, who rode to the rescue) after he was felled by a nasty virus and had to struggle with a scarily persistent fever. Since then, whenever awake, the little fella can't seem to go 10 minutes on his own before he'll be scuttling along with many a tearful peep, seeking an adult embrace. Not that he used to be stand-offish, but he was never so needy till now, even in previous bouts with illness.

At work, Pa's been preoccupied with how the economic crisis has affected country after country, so the little fella's behaviour has reminded him of the way some populations react. When all is well and the economy is humming along merrily, these folks want their government to leave them well alone so they can go about their own business. But when a financial contagion strikes, they go all limpet-miney and insist on a powerful saving hug from Big Brother, demanding bail-outs, stimulus packages and what have you.

Of course, we know that a limpet mine is so designed that failing to break its grim embrace will be followed in short order by a massive explosion and a speedy one-way visit to the bottom of the sea. Similarly, expecting the government to be an all-powerful life preserver - somehow counteracting problems brought on by unwise economic activity, business foolishness and so forth - can only end in tears. A culture of dependency is swiftly bred, and fiscal irresponsibility could easily take hold.

In our case, Sonny's fever broke yesterday and a fierce rash surfaced in its wake. Seems he had either measles or what is called 'false measles', which may linger for anything from three to seven days. Presumably he can be forgiven for being especially needy - so he's been allowed more than his usual quota of hugs. But once he's well on the road to recovery, the pampering will cease. Which, hopefully, is what will happen with the world's own embrace of big-government rescues.