Get rid of all crime and then sign on.
I watched Stephen fry advertising the new Windows 7 Phone. Pathetic. The world we live in is full of gimmicks and the perpetuation of childhood. Imagine we could get rid of crime or robotise higher education. This would free up a workforce of maybe a million. To do what? Make mobile phones so people can play GTA Serial Rapist on them?
What is the purpose of “efficiency”? To make us all redundant? To make a few people even richer? Is “efficiency” selling the country to the Arabs, giving each family a million and a mass exodus to New Zealand? Where, presumably, we would live on the interest?
I’m quite sure (seriously) that I don’t want to be paying for pretend cops, working 9 – 5 Monday to Friday, poncing around as ACPOs and so on. I also know that our universities are full of people who don’t teach, or teach using antiquated methods of knowledge dissemination like lectures, that are even more wasteful. There’s a lot we could rationalise.
So what do we do with the “waste” – because the waste is us.
The idea is that we all get other jobs and live happily ever after – maybe like the 8,000 plus ex-servicemen in jail? The invisible hands of ‘super-capitalism’ are just waiting to help, aren’t they? We are so sure of this we blog about Gadget-scandals because to tell the truth to power without being incognito would get us the sack? We are actually scared to lose our jobs, rather than believe in the invisible hands.
There is no real incentive to doing policing better or do teaching better for us average mugs. It’s all a bit like telling the truth to time and motion studies – you just don’t. Of course, if this was really possible, Britain might still have 80% of the world’s shipbuilding business as we did in about 1900. Instead, we have more or less no shipbuilding, and I’m forced to teach ‘principles of management’ and ‘business maths’ to Chinese people to keep our export industry afloat. If I was able to market higher education as a business for real and make profit for myself, I’d be selling masters degrees in policing, investigation and forensic excellence with a couple of our good forces as partners. I’d also be bidding for European funding with these police partners, local authorities and SMEs to develop products (case investigation and presentation packages, forensic tools etc.). Why should I be arsed though, in this money-motivated world?
Why should the cop, catching 40 winks behind the rugby club in his Panda car at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning redeploy her 40 hours to times when she might be more needed on drunk street etc? Why should an academic do work on my project for no financial reward, rather than idle away at home doing ‘scholarly research’? Those who start to moral sabre-rattle should think of our rich bankers and their bonuses. They get wads more money, we get more work for the same pay. In the dark heart of Africa, some bastard steals aid drugs and sells them on. What does a chief constable get for going with Vauxhall rather than Ford?
If I’m any good at teaching (some think I am), why am I teaching Chinese (nationalities to choice) and not your kids? Why might I prefer our 20 year local Bobby to a cheaper Laotian alternative? Why might I prefer my own kids to be taught by a bloke with management experience (or arty experience) than some dork with a PhD in deontological ethics still living with his mother?
Is it efficient to pay loads of money to police officers who redeploy themselves into the promotion system and 9 to 5 offices? Good teachers into management? I don’t really believe, after 30 years in management and its study, that we really do promote the good people, or even those good at their jobs (as in the Peter Principle). The image managers get promoted. I now believe the problem is believing in leadership.
Shipbuilding went down the toilet in the hands of rich families and nepotism. By the time management was identified as the problem, the families were sending their kids to university before shoeing them into management. We have no idea how to get the best people managing or how to keep them honest in power. We are motivated by threats and fear of losing homes; they are motivated by salaries and bonuses so big we could retire after a couple of years on them. I’ll suggest such “motivation” is likely to be some kind of “libidinal fetish”.
I reckon a few of us could organise basic policing to the point where the courts were flooded with cases. This would be lunacy – the courts are already a bottleneck, as is the lack of prison places or serious alternatives. No organisational designer would re-organise the police without looking at the wider system first.
There is a body of knowledge on organisational design. My gut feeling is I would find no sign of it amongst current police management or politicians. I have no intent to create cogent argument here, just to ‘picture’ a few possibilities. We can get ‘more for less’, but need to know history tells us that most people who shout this are full of shit. It rarely works. Demarcation and other types of worker dispute were not irrational – just cases of turkeys not voting for Xmas. If the police (or academic) situation were any different from the tragedy of our industrial relations in the UK, then Gadget and others would be able to come forward openly with their inside knowledge and we could get on with letting them mend the broken system. I and others might find a way of ensuring our kids could get university opportunities worth having without taking on what is effectively a mortgage.
The “ultimate” in this is that “efficiency” is not enough on its own. I don’t want to earn my living on the backs of 18 year old kids, much as I would exact revenge on them for annoying me with mobile phones, music and youth, signing up to lifelong mortgages for their lifelong learning from textbooks we should have thrown away by now. I don’t want a police force redesigned by ACPOs who put chocolate-dipped strawberry eating ahead of getting my local Bobby to my house when I need him either.
There are many questions I’d base public sector reform on. The first would be:
1. What would we lose by a salary cap of £60K and a flat-rate pension scheme capped at the lowest pay grade?
If part of the answer is ‘a vast number of highly competent go-getters’ then we’d be quids in when they left. The pay bill would be cut and the economy’s invisible hands would snap them up in a frenzy of export-led money making that would have the country back on its feet tomorrow!