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The Tories can indeed be trusted with public ‘services’

There is yet more evidence of the delusional mind set of those who say David Cameron’s utterances are just a deception to get into office so not to worry, he is really in favour of limited government and real-world economics. The truth is Cameron is New Labour through and through and those who want an unbroken series of regulatory statist policies from Blair’s government to continue should have no hesitation voting for the Tories.

But in our legitimate desire to drive out government waste and improve public sector efficiency, we have sometimes risked giving the impression that we see those who work in the public sector as burdens on the state rather than dedicated professionals who work hard to improve the quality of people’s lives.

So Cameron is now working hard to secure the public sector vote and he most surely deserves it as they need fear no loss of influence under him compared to Tony Blair.

Dedicated professionals, eh? You mean the people responsible for 95% of days lost to strikes in the UK1? The almost un-sackable people who get better pensions that people who work in the productive sector? The people who for some reason seem to get ‘sick’ far more often than people in the private sector?

A vote for the Tory party is a vote for Blairism, pure and simple. The Tories really really needs to be destroyed so that we can get a worthwhile opposition party.

1 = Not that I am really complaining… I would like 90% of Britain’s public sector to go on strike permanently, even if we still have to pay for them, so that people can discover that life will go on without them.

23 comments to The Tories can indeed be trusted with public ‘services’

  • reilly

    Completely off-topic. Deleted

  • Dubois

    I must object to the simplified black and white idea that the public sector is bad, the private sector is lean and efficient. The truth is there is just as much mismanagement, inefficiency and general abuse and misuse of money and resources. There are likewise pockets of old-fashioned pride in work in both sectors. It is what keeps a number of people in state sector teaching and mind numbingly repetitive number crunching in an accountancy firm.

    WIth the exception of leftist trades unionists and assorted malcontents, the mass of workers in the public sector is not involved in some big conspiracy to control society. They want to pay off the mortgage and slope off early on Fridays like everyone else. I doubt the majority of workers in any sector really cares where their wages ultimately derive from.

    If the Conservatives want to give the mass of perfectly decent hard-working people inthe public sector a break, that is to be welcomed.

    What we need is more focussed attacks on those areas of both the private and public sectors that are overbearing and/or corrupt, and not just a blanket insult.

  • Julian Taylor

    What we need is more focussed attacks on those areas of both the private and public sectors that are overbearing and/or corrupt, and not just a blanket insult.

    Very true, but what we also need is pressure maintained upon the state bureaucracy as a whole to constantly remind them that they are paid by we, the taxpayers – something distinctly lacking in intent by Cameron and his ilk.

    There was a time not so long ago that the phrase ‘dedicated professional’ was reserved strictly for those in what was the professional trades – doctors, architects, draughtsmen et al and most certainly not for overrenumerated civil servants, whose professional qualification for their employment tends to be 3 GCSE passes at grade E or higher,

  • I must object to the simplified black and white idea that the public sector is bad, the private sector is lean and efficient.

    That is completely correct, but unlike a ‘public’ service, I am not generally forced to turn to a given private company if I do not like how they do business. Moreover in the final analysis companies go broke, governments just pass the consequences of their ineptitude to the taxpayer.

    The truth is there is just as much mismanagement, inefficiency and general abuse and misuse of money and resources.

    Indeed, but then the main reason for my hostility to public services is not based on inefficiency and waste but rather principle. That said, the provision of mandatory state ‘services’ tends to prevent the development of private alternatives, which is why far from wanting public services to be more efficient, if I am going to be taxed anyway I would rather most of that tax money be simply flushed down the toilet unspent so that alternative ways of doing things, particularly social ways rather than politically imposed ones where possible, can develop in a less distorted environment.

    Moreover the consequences of corporate mismanagement are usually easier to mitigate than those of public sector mismanagement. Try suing the state for malfeasance!

    I would be quite happy to pay for a military, a court system and very little else, so seeing things like the DTI or NHS or DfES become more efficient is hardly a goal of mine when what I really want is to see them abolished.

    I know that there are people in the public sector who work hard and do good jobs but for Cameron to hold up the public sector as a bastion of virtues is a bit much.

  • Howard R Gray

    Yes, Yes, Yes! You have it just right, the whorey Tories are just the same old same old. One can roll out the old epithets ‘bout leopards changing their spots, and the like, to no real avail. In short, nout changes.

    Nothing is happening in the deadwood of Tory Central Office other than the Blairingly obvious smoke and mirrors game. Principle is just not in the running at Tory HQ, the effort is being aimed at trimming and repackaging of Blairpolitik. Why expect anything more?

    As for the salariat of the state, more is better in a bent sort of way. Leviathan will go on and on growing like the cuckoo it really is, until it swamps the economy and precipitates the perception of why the government isn’t your friend. Maybe I’m overly optimistic here?

    I suspect, that once the salariat exceeds the sustainable absurdity point the whole thing becomes observably bad for all. Meanwhile, there is a need to explain that taxation is just ersatz slavery obliging you to work later on each year, now gone by the best of June of July, for the state. Governing classes need the oxygen of other peoples labour to survive, they always have. Shame the Marxists and other leftist deadheads don’t understand what is so obvious to even the half-witted. Tax equals slavery, or theft if you like, there are better ways to fund the public needs. No I won’t deal with them here, save to say that a visit to any good libertarian web site will point you in the right direction.

    It occurs to me that the arrogant salariat, skiving off more and more, should not be further insulted with tax bills. Why, you may ask? It would be more honest to recognize that the whole boondoggle is non wealth creative, and by acknowledging that fact, just save effort by avoiding all that pointless accounting and tax return review work done by other salarians in the Inland Revenue. There is zero point in holding back public money in notional tax from the salary of a public servant. It is not as if they are actually earning anything and, more to the point, actually doing something useful. All this is much in the same vein as the use of the word “investment” by politicians as a justification of expenditure on “needs”. The topsy turvy world of public finance, and public sector economics, just astounds the casual observer and “they” think Enron is bad! At least the Enron bigwigs may be facing some porridge on the public dime.

    Public sector bailiwicks have at least one great utility as bought and paid for votes for Blairism. I have it on good authority, it is a myth that turkeys of the genus publikservantius don’t vote for Christmas or Thanks Giving either, they are just addicted to figgy pudding laced with coin of the realm soused in brandy. On this basis one would expect the Tory party to garner support from the public sector so why step in and help them by voting for them?

    Nope, I won’t be clamoring for my postal vote to be sent to me here in Brooklyn anytime soon. Hell, it just might encourage them. Now why would I do that?

  • Chris Padfield

    I would be quite happy to pay for a military, a court system and very little else, so seeing things like the DTI or NHS or DfES become more efficient is hardly a goal of mine when what I really want is to see them abolished.

    The thing is you have lost that argument, almost no one agrees with you. So you are left shouting from the sidelines while everyone else plays the game or get in and play the game and focus on improving the public sector which istn’t going to go anywhere anytime soon.

    There are numerous examples of absolute waste in the public sector and this needs to be rapidly resolved however attacking all public sector for being “non productive” is utterly rediculous. Fortunatly the tories have learnt from some of their days of puerile opposition which is why they now have a good chance of being elected.

  • The thing is you have lost that argument, almost no one agrees with you.

    So what? That does not mean I am wrong. The public sector is unreformable in the long run (I think Thatcher’s short lived reforms proved that) and in any case, the notion that the Tory party under that clown will even try to reform it is hilarious. Cameron is clearly setting the political stage not for reform but for buying political power the old fashioned way… with other people’s money. He is in fact going out of his way to show he will change nothing of any substance. And yet somehow getting the Tories elected so they can do what Labour is doing is supposed to be meaningful? How exactly?

    If you think playing that game will make things better, you go right ahead and I am sure you will convince yourself that you are making a difference.

    I agree with remark attributed to Will Rodgers: “it is a good thing we do not get all the government we pay for”.

  • Chris Padfield writes, concerning abolition of the DTI or NHS or DfES: The thing is you have lost that argument, almost no one agrees with you.

    Well I agree with Perry, to a fair degree.

    I’ll have to leave the DTI out of it, to be brief and concentrate on just a couple of points.

    The NHS and education do not have to be run by central government. Neither do they have to be funded totally out of taxation. Various countries run very successful health insurance schemes, with full or partial funding through taxation. Likewise, education can be run on a voucher scheme, to ensure that funding is available for everyone for some level of schooling. This could be extended to university education, with part-time adult education, eg partially taught apprenticeships, being funded through vouchers too.

    Centralisation of management (and even of detailed policy), leads to stagnation, and eventually to failure. That is where we in the UK now find ourselves.

    Part of decentralisation could also be provided by bringing back proper local government, with direct linkage of authority to tax with responsibility to provide. Part of it could be provided by running of hospitals, schools, etc as private-sector initiatives – irrespective of whether their funding comes through vouchers, insurance or private purchase, in any mix.

    There is a further problem. Equality of opportunity is often taken to extremes: eg equality of allowability. This leads to capping of the most anyone is allowed to have, even with their own money.

    The result of this is that one can have state eductaion for one’s children, or forego all the tax share paid on education and go totally private. It’s the same with the NHS.

    A better scheme would be acceptance of some reasonable attractive minimum level of NHS and education funding through a partially redistributive taxation system, topped up by personally chosen extras at personal expense.

    If you want and can afford extra for a private hospital room, why not. [We don't impose constraints on what hotel accomodation is permitted by law:- pay £400/night if you want to, I'm usually happy enough with what I get for £70, or even less.]

    My personal view is that if a political party were to offer such things as its firm policy (funding not operations; vouchers with optional top up), much of the non-voting middle would come out in droves and vote for it.

    All it needs is for a government that knows how to let go.

    This may not be perfect from a libertarian viewpoint, but it would be much more libertarain than we now have. Furthermore, choice in the marketplace would lead to a distinct improvement in quality, perhaps even enough within a 5-year electoral term for it to be seen as a success justifying re-election.

    Best regards

  • Simon Jester

    There are numerous examples of absolute waste in the public sector and this needs to be rapidly resolved however attacking all public sector for being “non productive” is utterly rediculous. Fortunatly the tories have learnt from some of their days of puerile opposition which is why they now have a good chance of being elected.

    Victim of a Nulabour “education”?

  • Not the usual Nick who posts here

    The unfortunate truth is that few people retain any interest in reducing the government’s size or level of control, once they get a chance of being part of it.

  • Chris Padfield

    So what? That does not mean I am wrong. The public sector is unreformable in the long run (I think Thatcher’s short lived reforms proved that) and in any case, the notion that the Tory party under that clown will even try to reform it is hilarious. Cameron is clearly setting the political stage not for reform but for buying political power the old fashioned way… with other people’s money. He is in fact going out of his way to show he will change nothing of any substance. And yet somehow getting the Tories elected so they can do what Labour is doing is supposed to be meaningful? How exactly?

    But the point is simple, the vast majority of the country support centralised education and health care. Most look to the US system as the definition of a health care disaster. Sure, most don’t know about other alternatives such as Japan but even those have problems as well.

    It is going to take a very large change in public sentiment to change this and no political party is electable going against this world view. It thus seems wrong to criticise a political party trying to get elected after over a decade in opposition (partly remaining so because of this very issue).

    Instead of trying to campaign for tories to end the NHS or install voucher based education just getting the first step of firing some useless public sector positions and returning the cash back in tax cuts would be a better aim. Wishing for things that will never happen seems somewhat pointless.

  • Perry and Nick – I agree with you too. Churchill was not agreed with while spineless appeasers marched against war, but that does nto make him any less right on the money!

    For my part I think it is even more foolhardy to attack public sector posts – that is a Blairite blunderbuss “reform”.

    I care not one fig for a “party” who wants to “get into power” – that is all part of the problem and The Tories have made the problem worst by pandering to the 3yr old tantrum-prone toddler that is the UK electorate.

    the UK does need a party who wishes to walk the road towards Minarchism (but checking the course along the way to avoid zealotry).

  • guy herbert

    Most look to the US system as the definition of a health care disaster.

    And they’d be wrong. There is plenty wrong with the US approach (which may have more to do with tort law than medicine or insurance), but compared with Britain is the US a health care disaster area? No it isn’t. US survival rates for most serious diseases are significantly better. And such rates include the imagined legions of the uninsured.

  • But Chris, what is the value in wishing for things which make very little difference? If we are arguing over where we should drown in 5 mins or in 10 minutes, sure, I agree that 10 minutes is better, but I would rather spend my time arguing for more effort to be put into finding a way of not drowning at all.

    In the long run the changes will come by simple virtue of the system going bust: that we have an aging population with rising taxes is all you need to know to see what will eventually happen.

    There will come a time when it does not matter a damn what the UK electorate wants and I would rather people have a change of heart whilst it still has time to avoid the inevitable dislocation of letting things continue until there are no more choices to make.

    And as someone who has been ill in the USA and UK, for all its flaws the US medical system is vastly superior, albeit far from being the true free market it should be sadly. Anyone who thinks the NHS is preferable is… well, let’s just say I think they are ill-informed.

  • Ham

    I want the controls of the state to extend over education as much as possible…so that there’ll be a more willing market for freelance private tuition for me to sell to in the near future. ;-)

    Just so long as they don’t extend to outlawing private tuition! If that happens, I’ll be on here urging violent revolt!

  • ResidentAlien

    I have fallen ill and been treated in both the US and UK. My personal experience was that treatment and facilities were superior in the UK. The whole customer experience in the UK was also better, my abiding memory of treatment in the US was of getting into the treatment room one hour late then having to listen through paper thin walls for 45 minutes to my doctor planning his sailing weekend, he then came in and tried to persuade me to have some unnecessary surgery. The free market option of going elsewhere was not really open to me because of the restriction imposed by my health insurer.

    The NHS is a surprisingly well-executed socialist solution. The US system is an astonishingly inefficient, over-regulated, strangulated “market” solution. I think that the near religious devotion amongst UK healthworkers to the socialist ideal of the NHS means that the system has not lapsed as far into inefficiency as would happen in, for example, a nationalised car manufacturer.

    I’m sure a true free market would be better than both but right now I’d rather get sick in the UK. I’d be interested in comparisons with other sectors to see just how far you have to take government interference in a nominally free market before a fully nationalised solution actually works better.

  • Public service “reform” will not work. Whatever is proposed will be target led, which means not serving the customers, but serving government ministers. And of course, the hospitals will try and juggle the work to meet the targets by creative accountancy.

    In the private sector, you can’t do creative accountancy in terms of customer service. You can do all the juggling you like to tell me that your average queue time is 3 minutes.

    Because if, in my experience, regardless of how you spin it, I find that a competitor does it quicker and cheaper, I might consider going to them.

    And that’s the problem. The lack of competition means that no-one really knows just how much better and cheaper the NHS could be.

    The thing with the free market is not that companies fail. That is a given. The key thing is that is evolutionary. That the good products and services remain, because customers see how much better they are and gravitate towards them. But we have no such evolution in the NHS because there is no choice, and people are repeatedly told that it’s wonderful, and without a comparison, they don’t generally seem to question it.

    The other temptation, without competition, is towards laziness, towards being producer-centric.

    If you look at opticians, the results of their free market reform was that more people entered the market with new ideas and technologies. Prices went down.

    If I want an eye test, I can go onto the Vision Express website day or night, and book it in, including where I want it, and what days would suit me. Under the NHS, I have to phone in a narrow time frame, and can be seen only on that day, and only by a doctor at my surgery.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    As someone who has been in both the US and UK systems–and very badly injured at that (snapped femur, treated in UK + shattered heel, treated in US + extensive blunt trauma injuries, dealt with in both), the UK system is a joke.

    I have mentioned this at this site before, but quite some time back. The UK “foot specialist” said, to my face: “I don’t know what your American doctor will do, but I wouldn’t operate on your heel.” If it weren’t for my American doctor, I would be a cripple, unable to walk normally, wear normal shoes, let alone run or play sports.

    Yeah, that NHS is great.

  • Tuscan Tony

    Nuff said. Off topic a tad, but anyone seen Verity round here recently?

  • Alex

    i think its fair enough that my pension is good as my wages are lower than the private sector and i don’t get any type of performance bonuses. Its all swings and roundabouts really.

  • Paul Marks

    I have worked in the “public” (i.e. government sector) – in my case the Home Office.

    I can confirm that most of the people I worked with were neither leftists out to destroy Britain (contrary to the reputation of the Home Office), or even particularly lazy (people did not tend to take days off, or come in early and leave early – and people did not spend the day chatting, we did do what we were supposed to be doing).

    However, there is another question:

    “If we all dropped death right now, what productive work would not be done?”

    No productive work would not have been done. Our activities had no useful purpose.

    This is why I left (which was the biggest mistake I ever made, one that has led to much unpleasant experiance – but still my life and death has no relevance to other people).

    As for people engaged in “front line activities” (doctors, nurses, teachers and so on) they seem to want government jobs but for them to be as if they were not government jobs (i.e. free of government intervention, form filling and so on) – in short they want cats that bark.

    Mr Cameron thinks he can get their votes by making the (false) promise that he can deliver government jobs that are not like government jobs. Mr Cameron knows this is a false promise because he worked for ministers in the last Conservative government (so he knows it is not just a question of the Labour party – it is the nature of government).

    Mr Cameron is wrong in thinking he get the votes of large numbers of “public sector” voters. He forgets that government workers who do not like the Labour party have another party to vote for – the Liberal Democrats.

    Why should more than a handful of government workers (which, no doubt, the Conservatives will show off in their television broadcasts) vote Conservative?

    Even if Mr Cameron and his associates go about saying “do not worry, we are not Conservatives really”.

    All Mr Cameron’s talk of not making the savings in government spending that have to made (if Britain is not to decline) means is that “private sector” workers have no reason to vote Conservative.

    Indeed, logically, it is hard to see why anyone who is neither a candidate for the Conservative party or works for the party, should vote Conservative.

    “But we are ahead in the polls” – wait for the gereral election, unless there is a major recession (as I have said many times, this is a possibilty) the Conservative party will lose.

  • Nick (Not the usual one)

    The NHS is a surprisingly well-executed socialist solution.

    The NHS has the advantage – again, despite its reputation – that its jobs are such as simply cannot be hacked by people who don’t care about what they’re doing. Which means that most of the non-complete burnouts will care, and that will impact on how well it works.

  • i think its fair enough that my pension is good as my wages are lower than the private sector and i don’t get any type of performance bonuses. Its all swings and roundabouts really.

    I seem to recall something recently suggesting that the disparity in wages wasn’t so high any more.

    With regards to bonuses, how many people have been fired in the public sector for underperforming?