Sunday, Oct 25, 2009

Time for hard decisions?

Sunday Times: Bring on the squeeze, it can make us better

"Perhaps the most profound human instinct, after the desire for food and sex, is the urge to ignore unpleasant truths in the hope that eventually they’ll go away". "We’re not prepared for the fact that when the supply of money is turned off, as it will have to be in the next couple of years, some sharp rocks are going to be exposed" (like negative equity)."The parties have been reluctant to spell out the mess we are in for fear of making themselves unpopular. We won’t get through it, as we have in the past, by leaving the politicians to deal with it alone. We have to participate in these decisions; we have to take responsibility. It’s going to be our problem, too".

Posted by alan @ 02:50 PM (2381 views)
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47 Comments

1. devo said...

Classic comment below the article:

"Cutting public sector staff, including health workers, teachers and police by 10% and freezing public sector pay for five years would produce two-thirds of the necessary savings."

Great, so just cut public sector staff by 15% and give them a 7.5 year pay freeze. Problem solved.

James E

Sunday, October 25, 2009 02:47PM Report Comment
 

2. paul said...

The problem with cutting public sector staff is that the social services bill then goes up, requiring even more cuts and so on.

In addition, public sector has never been an issue all through the boom years.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 03:19PM Report Comment
 

3. alan said...

"We have to participate in these decisions; we have to take responsibility. It’s going to be our problem, too".

The line from the bottom of the article is all too true. Having worked as a consultant in the public sector, I've witnessed hundreds of thousands of pounds wasted by projects which just haven't been thought through.....departmental rivalries...no participation...no communication...and so it goes on...

Sunday, October 25, 2009 03:34PM Report Comment
 

4. cyril said...

I hate all this public sector bashing (e.g in the comments section).
Everyone knows the public sector is inefficient but look at how much money the private sector has lost everybody! A bit of inter-departmental rivalry in the civil service is nothing compared to the gross negligence of the banking sector. (I won't call it incompetence because they probably did it deliberately). And look at how the construction sector has colluded to rip off the taxpayer. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 04:33PM Report Comment
 

5. letthemfall said...

The whole public sector bad: private sector good is a kind of collective hysteria bourne out of imports of American ideas, principally by the Cons party and its supporters. Despite all the glib outpourings about the waste, one rarely sees any hard evidence for this almost mythical inefficiency. Private sector waste is just as bad - I've seen plenty of that. As cyril says, the banks' waste is historic. So why do we get this steady flow of drivel about public waste? Mass foolishness?

Sunday, October 25, 2009 04:49PM Report Comment
 

6. chrisa said...

'Even before the economy was hit, our public services and our attitudes to them needed to change. The systems aren’t designed for an ageing population, nor one that has to respond to climate change.'

I would say that this article is clearly Government propaganda based on the theme of 'never fail to use a crisis as an excuse to bring in the changes you wanted to bring in anyway'.

'We won’t get through it, as we have in the past, by leaving the politicians to deal with it alone.'

This is laughable! Deal with it? They caused it you moron.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 05:18PM Report Comment
 

7. enuii said...

Letthemfall; if you have ever worked for an American company you would soon realise that the ideals they have are much worse with regard to working conditions, hours and remuneration than anything the tories have yet to dream up. In fact with the ever increasing level of 'foreign' ownership of UK companies the public sector is fast becoming the only large UK resident employer. During the 'good years' the public sector is always used as a job creation tool so it is hardly surprising that it can be so easily pared back by the accountants when the money taps are throttled back.

The truth is that since the 1960's there has not been enough 'real' jobs in the UK either private or public to go around the available workforce a good proportion of which has been left to rot on it's sometimes quite willing idle backside. As we approach a forecast population of 70 million expect things to get a lot lot worse as the UK pays the price of successive governments political games and head-in-bucket economic policies of the last 40 years.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 05:24PM Report Comment
 

8. shipbuilder said...

The point made about a 'we pay, you serve' culture is interesting and certainly doesn't make a case for further privatisation.
What annoys be about the public sector debate, as with, say, global warming, is that it's something that people feel them must take a left/right party line with and so logical thinking goes out the window.
When economic times are bad we buy less and so the private sector suffers. This is because the private sector sells us discretionary goods and services. Do we require less teachers or doctors during a recession? Clearly not. Do we want to attract the best people to look after our health and teach the next generation? Of course. It is a bizarre turn of events that these professions have become almost hate figures. Pay freezes fair enough but job cuts simply don't make sense.
What the propaganda against the public sector has really achieved is to move attention away from the utter failure of the private sector to fulfill its role in society. The theory is that the greater risk of the private sector comes with greater rewards. Perhaps those in the private sector who feel hard done by should be asking why this doesn't happen in most cases.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 05:31PM Report Comment
 

9. clockslinger said...

cyril...letthemfall @ 4&5, how right you are! This is a pernicious little article pushing the same anti public sector line.However, a big bloody counter outside Threadneedle Street ...or, better, in the corner of the screen on every television channel, letting us see how much of our tax the indespensible wealth creators from the city are costing us on a minute by minute basis...yes, that would have some value.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 05:31PM Report Comment
 

10. paul said...

What the propaganda against the public sector has really achieved is to move attention away from the utter failure of the private sector to fulfill its role in society.

Indeed shipbuilder. I think you've hit the nail on the head there.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 08:12PM Report Comment
 

11. tyrellcorporation said...

Hey Shipbuilder and Paul, if the private sector is such a drag on all those worthy public sector jobs why have a private sector at all? Why not have the state supply us with cars, power, food, water airlines, trains, oh, hang on a minute we tried that and it turned to SH*T very quickly. The State is now so bloated, so unproductive, so out of touch, so wasteful and so burdonsome. When private companies in areas like Gateshead (just an example but you could pretty much add in any urban area outside the SE England) can't employ people to work for them because the state sector is SO attractive (better wages, pensions, working conditions, working hours, employee protection, etc, etc) then as an economy you're in big, big trouble.

I don't believe there is a propoganda war raging against the public sector, just a realisation that the current situation is utterly unsustainable.

Also, I have no problem whatsoever kicking some ar8e out of a £45k non-job (add in a further £10k a year pension pot + numerous benefits) and seeing them pick up a giro if it saves me a bit off my taxes. They sure as hell aren't going to cost that on benefits. WTF should I pay for all this in my skyrocketing taxes just because it might be marginal as to whether he/she would be worse off without that job.

No, No NO, you guys are totally wrong on this. A vibrant, dynamic private sector should utterly dominate the state sector otherwise we are in terminal decline.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 08:50PM Report Comment
 

12. devo said...

11. tyrellcorporation said... 'A vibrant, dynamic private sector'

If you should spot one, don't keep it to yourself.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 09:31PM Report Comment
 

13. crunchy said...

11. tyrellcorporation

I am with you on this.

The problem is that the public sector has far more political power over wages and pensions only because they are a larger joint force.

Example- If thet are unhappy with anything they will shout it from the roof tops and whoever is in government bends to their needs for fear

of being harsh in the public eye. Now the private sector is another story it is divided into much smaller sections and it's needs are much

easier to ignore, because one can say it's down to market forces and such. It annoys me to see a private sector that has very poor

state pensions subsidising the cushy public sectors which of course is larger and in some cases sooner. Don't even get me started on

service or accountability. They need a kick up the .......and a "reality cheque." I do have some exceptions but on the main that's my view.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 09:33PM Report Comment
 

14. devo said...

"whoever is in government bends to their needs for fear of being harsh in the public eye"

This tallies with my thought for the day:

We are where we are because it is where we want to be.

Whaddya think?

Sunday, October 25, 2009 09:44PM Report Comment
 

15. tyrellcorporation said...

Devo, I'm certainly not saying we've got one (we clearly haven't), just that that is something to strive for, plan for and nurture.

Crunchy, thanks for you support on this, I was beginning to think I'm the lone voice raging against the madness of the client state.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 09:47PM Report Comment
 

16. devo said...

"We are where we are because it is where we want to be."

I know, I know....it's not where we want to be any longer.

Let's let the powers that be sort that one out.

No pressure or anything, but China is watching, and as patient as it is.....

Sunday, October 25, 2009 09:51PM Report Comment
 

17. tyrellcorporation said...

'We are where we are because it is where we want to be.'

Um, up to a point - Insofar as the Labour goverment was elected by popular mandate (not GB obviously). I voted Labour during their first two terms when things were still quite benign (built on Clarke's economic gift) and the true magnitude of their economic incompetence was well obscured. The third term saw mass immigration, the ballooning of the size of the state, the crumbling fiscal position, a house price bubble, a debt mountain (both public and private), etc ,etc. I have to say I didn't vote for any of this and which is why I will never vote for them again. British politics is a game of two halves with neither side being particularly attarctive, but on balance my allegience is now clear. This lot have been a disaster.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 09:56PM Report Comment
 

18. quiet guy said...

@tyrellcorporation

For what it's worth, I agree with you about the importance of a free market economy as well. I had considered arguing against clockslinger, shipbuilder, letthemfall and cyril but it's all been said before.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 09:56PM Report Comment
 

19. devo said...

15. tyrellcorporation said... Devo, I'm certainly not saying we've got a vibrant, dynamic private sector we clearly haven't, just that that is something to strive for, plan for and nurture.

How do we achieve this without a sea change in economics from globalism to protectionism?

For instance, how does the average wage of China and Britain compare?

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:00PM Report Comment
 

20. devo said...

There is no free market economy. Why do you think this?

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:03PM Report Comment
 

21. tyrellcorporation said...

The free market in the UK is being stifled by red tape, I know, I run my own company. The amount of time I now spend on purely admin and regulation conforming is absurd. My situation is being repeated across the land and entrepreneurs are leaving in droves. This is not alarmist, it's fact.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:07PM Report Comment
 

22. tyrellcorporation said...

Sorry guys, It's late and I'm up early tomorrow morning. Gotta go for now.

Cheers

TC

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:10PM Report Comment
 

23. cyril said...

@ quiet guy - yes it has all been said before, but the anti-public sector brigade are the ones who keep bringing it up!
By the way, I'm no great defender of the public sector, I just think the private=good / public=bad debate is a bit facile.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:30PM Report Comment
 

24. devo said...

992 views
22 comments
It's time for the silent majority to speak up.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:32PM Report Comment
 

25. shipbuilder said...

Tyrellcorp, I'm afraid in your rush to follow your party line and attack, you missed the point of my post. Do you think that the need for doctors and teachers and the police decrease during recessions, or should these jobs be treated differently?
Why do you think that most people complain about private sector pay? Is there any room for the argument that maybe front-line public sector jobs are reasonably paid and that those at the top of private business are shafting their employees?
My post was, as I thought I had signposted at the start, an appeal for looking at the debate from a different angle. It's a pity you didn't at least try.
And by the way, before the tedious question raises its head, I don't, nor have ever, worked in the public sector.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:47PM Report Comment
 

26. montesquieu said...

I have very little patience with the rabid anti-public sector lunatic fringe, total nut-job right wing rhetoric imported from America.

NuLab have over-expanded the public sector, that much is clear. But let's not get carried away. Our universities (public sector) remain world class and I for one would take to the cobbles to stop some boggle-eyed fanatic from privatising them. Same for the health service, same for a lot of the things we take for granted.

A modest contraction - a cull of non-jobs, of which there are quite a few, would be beneficial. But there's no appetite for slash & burn in this country. Let the foaming at the mouth brigade bugger off to America and see the ugliness, chaos and inequality that results when the state retreats from its responsibilities for the poor, the sick, the mentally feeble

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:48PM Report Comment
 

27. devo said...

The public sector appear very defensive in this crash.

The private sector are too, but are less cohesive.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:54PM Report Comment
 

28. shipbuilder said...

After a decade-long credit and consumption boom, where was the vibrant and dynamic private sector with attractive and well-paid jobs and decent pensions? Where did all those record profits go? Where is the lasting legacy from so much economic growth?

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:05PM Report Comment
 

29. devo said...

I don't know if you realise it shipbuilder, but you are very backward looking.

May I respectfully suggest it's time to look forward?

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:09PM Report Comment
 

30. devo said...

People will be soon starting to look for a real leader.

It could be you, shipbuilder.

What is your vision?

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:17PM Report Comment
 

31. shipbuilder said...

Devo, we need to understand the past before we can move forward. Maybe you missed them but i've outlined on here a number of times and in quite a bit of detail how I think things should and could work in the future. Few other people on here have. If you mean taking guesses at what the future holds, we all know that is utterly pointless, despite the deeper 'knowledge' many hint at.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:18PM Report Comment
 

32. devo said...

"Maybe you missed them"

Yes, I have. And I'm on here a lot.

You need to spell it out.

Ignore any ridicule.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:24PM Report Comment
 

33. crunchy said...

Remember, key workers are only in the public sector when it comes to property ownership/affordability.

That's the kind of thinking that gets my back up!

It's the government that has helped to make this sector unpopular and as many things it goes back to the Thatcher reign.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:27PM Report Comment
 

34. devo said...

Crunchy, (and anyone else who cares to answer)

What should be in the public sector?

This is an open, not loaded, question.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:34PM Report Comment
 

35. crunchy said...

31. shipbuilder said "i've outlined on here a number of times and in quite a bit of detail how I think things should and could work in the future."

That's a problem with blogs finding old info. I would have liked to have seen your suggestions.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:40PM Report Comment
 

36. crunchy said...

34. devo said "What should be in the public sector?"

It's not so much what should be in it to me, but rather what is happening within it and how it is governed and financed that concerns me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:52PM Report Comment
 

37. shipbuilder said...

I've tried searching myself, but unsuccessful. It's hinted at here -
http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/newsblog/2009/08/blog-busted-flush-24668.php
But I'm sure i've explained it more fully elsewhere. In short, my rather mundane improvement to the current system in terms of this debate would be replacement of all taxes and benefits with a citizen's income funded by LVT. Essential services that fit best into the public sector would be pay as you go, organised as stand-alone, not for profit businesses free from political interference. Everything else would be a free market.
A bigger vision would be broadly similar to an updated version of 'News from Nowhere'.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:00AM Report Comment
 

38. quiet guy said...

"What should be in the public sector?"

I'd put the armed forces, police, judiciary, prison system and road maintenance pretty high up the list. There may be a case for the state intervening in our railways, communications, gas, electrical and retail banking infrastructure, if required, but only with the intention of withdrawing as soon as possible.

I suppose that apart from state sanctioned violence and the legal system, the only real requirement is to provide support for national infrastructures that would disrupt our economy when they get into trouble. I don't think there is a theoretical basis for keeping roads and railways public except that the ridiculous amount of commuting used by modern workers would make privatisation very hard to implement now.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:01AM Report Comment
 

39. devo said...

Initial observations

gas, electrical and retail banking infrastructure aren't publicly owned at the moment are they?

What about education?

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:16AM Report Comment
 

40. quiet guy said...

"gas, electrical and retail banking infrastructure aren't publicly owned at the moment are they?"

Corrrect. The point I wanted to make is that they are all too important to fail hence that may require public support in the event of a serious disruption.

Education has been around for a lot longer than income tax. I don't believe it has to be run by the state.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:23AM Report Comment
 

41. shipbuilder said...

I would say that as a nation the ideal is that we should be self-sufficient in energy and the supply localised and community owned.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:23AM Report Comment
 

42. devo said...

41. shipbuilder said... I would say that as a nation the ideal is that we should be self-sufficient in energy and the supply localised and community owned.

In effect, that means coal or nuclear power.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:34AM Report Comment
 

43. crunchy said...

37. shipbuilder said...In the archives, "The public sector's biggest problem in my view is political interference."

At last some common ground. That change would be more than interesting. Oh the conflct! lol

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:37AM Report Comment
 

44. shipbuilder said...

Crunchy, I don't see any reason why we need politicians. The targets of my aforementioned independent public sector companies could be set by community forums or national referendums. People need regular input directly into the political process, cut out the middlemen.
I think we share a lot of common ground, actually, I think it's about getting to the heart of what people are really saying as opposed to attempting to anticipate someone's place left or right on the political spectrum that seems to be the basis of most political or economic discussions on the web.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:50AM Report Comment
 

45. devo said...

"I think it's about getting to the heart of what people are really saying as opposed to attempting to anticipate someone's place left or right on the political spectrum that seems to be the basis of most political or economic discussions on the web."


To find out most people's political leanings on HPC, all that's needed is time.

Monday, October 26, 2009 01:02AM Report Comment
 

46. crunchy said...

45. devo

Mine are all over the place.

Even I don't know what they are.

Thank God.

Monday, October 26, 2009 01:14AM Report Comment
 

47. crunchy said...

But I sure as hell don't need rulling.

Monday, October 26, 2009 01:22AM Report Comment
 

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