Friday, 24 April 2009

Quangos employ real people too

Has anyone else noticed the Tories' constant outing of their desire to slim down the "flab" of the public sector and to advocate some slashing around "quangocracies"?
The language being used here is supposed to hide where the real people are that hold these jobs, and instead suggest that slashing the flab is a kindly act that will be good for us all. Like some kind of wonderous PS diet to a new healthier us.
The constant drip-drip of attacks on the public sector seem to suggest that the Tories don't feel that job cuts here are real job cuts at all.
So next time a Tory attacks the public sector "flab" and suggests they are going to slash budgets (and jobs), ask how many real people this will leave without employment?
It appears that they feel that there are two levels of job cuts: real ones (in the private sector), where they are terribly sorry if people lose out, and other ones in the public sector where the slasher can come in with his scythe - no one will get hurt, but we -- the taxpayers -- will get loads of good money back.
I note there's a little exemption clause for nurses, doctors and teachers - which the Tories have obviously decided are so universally popular that they can't raise the axe in their direction.
Questions that need to be asked:
1) How many public sector jobs do you expect to lose with this slashing?
2) So how do you feel about the fact you are put those (xx) people out of work?
3) Is it a good idea to propose that one of your recession policies is to deliberately put a section of society out of work?
Public sector jobs are real jobs too, with real people attached. They are not just a handy shorthand for lovely, cuddly "savings" with no human costs attached.


Richard Baron said...

But if these public sector people are any good, they can go and get jobs in the private sector. The test of the worth of a job is whether people will freely, not under the compulsion of taxation, buy your goods and services.

Robert said...

Sadly the Tories have one simple cure to save a few bob ID cards Brown pathetic idea to know where we are, what we are doing. I think I myself could save a few billion with the nukes getting kicked into the long grass. Labour has wasted billions with it silliness that computer are the answer to everything.

Stuart White said...

Richard: I'm sure the bulk of the nation's nurses and school teachers will agree. I'm sure they live lives of appallingly low self-esteem because instead of people buying their services on a market, they instead prove their worth by the gratitude of a patient or the look of sudden understanding on the face of a struggling pupil. What a truly lovely world it would be if we all proved our worth by selling our services on a market.

Richard Baron said...

stuart, your argument does not stand up. People would buy the services of doctors, nurses and teachers if they had not already paid for them through taxation. They would not however buy the services of quangocrats and administrators.

My point was that jobs in the public sector should be preserved if and only if they are useful to the consumers of the services they supply. The fact that someone is comfortable in a job is not a reason to preserve a job. If the job is not useful, it should go and its occupant should bestir himself or herself to get another job. And the surest test of whether a job is useful, is to ask whether people would pay for it if they were not forced to pay.

Rachael Jolley said...

Richard - You base your argument on the idea that everyone always has the money to pay for public services. Your system works for the very rich who can always outbid everyone else for services. If you are poor and ill, and there is no state provided healthcare, you may without medical care. Social inequality is highest in countries with the weakest social safety nets - such as the US. You are now seeing cases there where middle income people are losing their jobs, quickly followed by their homes, and often by their health. Do you really want to live in a society where you have to hand over your credit card when you go into A&E before you can get a doctor's attention? This is only accentuated in a recession, where people can quickly find themselves struggling and without the public sector have nowhere to go for help. My feeling is you would say to them: "Oh just get a grip, get over your broken leg, and get hobbling."

Richard Baron said...

No Rachael, that is not what I said. I said that you should not keep jobs going because their occupants need jobs (which seems to be the assumption made in your original post), but that you should keep them going if they are useful, and that the way to test usefulness is to ask whether people would pay for them voluntarily. People with enough money would pay for doctors, nurses and teachers, so those jobs pass that test. Then there is the separate question of how we should in fact pay for them. At that point, the argument for taxpayer-funded provision, that it ensures that all can have medical and educational services, comes into play.