12 December 2013

In the 19th century, the kings of Siam had an interesting way of retaliating to courtiers who had displeased them: by giving them the gift of a white elephant – a highly valued but extremely expensive animal.

Whoever received the white elephant was likely to struggle because although it was sacred and held symbolic value, it cost too much to maintain whilst giving little benefit, and would drain the unlucky owner’s resources.

So why is this story relevant now? Because us Brits are being given our own white elephant, courtesy of the government. It’s likely to be too expensive for a large proportion of people to use and it will munch through the countryside with little proven benefit to businesses.

Despite very vocal attempts to refuse this burdensome gift – the money for which would arguably be much better spent elsewhere – it seems we don’t have much choice.

So, what do you think? Are we going to be able to pay the way for the high speed white elephant in the room or will it simply cost too much to ride?

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