We are probably seeing only the start of public sector protests today. Strikes are generally not much use, and the back of supposed union power has been broken everywhere other than the public sector. The arguments we hear in the media will all be nonsense and biased and factional.
The key underlying factor is that wages are no longer fair anywhere and massive inflation is in the system. Housing is unaffordable and about to become even more so as interest rates go up. Food is going through the roof, as are energy prices and something none of us seem to understand lurking in the system – this is the ‘debt problem’ and the ‘demographic time bomb’.
The ‘debt issue’ is not being presented properly. This has arisen through collusion between governments and banks to create a false economy in which money was supposed to make money. In fact this is no more than the creation of a parasite financial services sector and a wider form of professional leeching and organised criminality. The underlying story is one of the Emperor’s New Clothes and a massive Ponzi scheme – so much of a ‘Baldrick cunning plan’ that many didn’t spot that Sooty’s Magic Wand has replaced real accounting. The story of the pig in a poke is involved with losses hidden in the same sacks as profit.
The essential problem is we have no way of addressing any of this in available forms of public dialogue other than blogging – and this remains largely disempowered. Talk on the economy is constrained by metaphors that link to our experience of household budgeting. The idea in most prominence is that we can somehow recover by tightening belts and waiting for the private sector cavalry. This is so dumb.
Soon, I guess, our cops are going to be pitted against rioters. If we took the cost cutting seriously, then our officers would also be exposed to global matters as surely as manufacturing workers and unskilled labour. Cops would be imported as surely as plumbers, waiters and so on and paid these ‘immigrant rates’. This is clear nonsense, yet is also clear in the government line in general on cuts and the snide way public sector workers are being vilified as a ‘burden’ on the rest of us.
While the farce plays itself either out or to Greek crescendo, the rich get richer. One suggestion made today is to cut the EU – (calm down Dickiebo!) – and the argument is very attractive. Thanks to the ludicrous Human Rights Act we can’t evict lousy, tribal criminals and see our soldiers unable to claim compensation for being sent into dud wars with inadequate equipment. Who would miss the droves of highly paid lawyers and others giving us this pseudo-legislation. Why not just cut this crap out for 3, 5 or 10 years? Personally, I’d like to see these duckeggs get gaol time, but it isn’t the answer.
Remember the ‘three-day week’? We lost only about 4% of production. The problem is we use jobs to spread resources around and they are associated with power and influence. Most jobs are not connected with real production of anything. In the Middle East and Greece, public sector jobs are doled out in a ‘wasta’ system – and who can say the same does not happen here when you look at QUANGOs and characters like Louise Casey? Japan was once heralded here as the kind of super-efficient model to follow. I was sent to discover their secrets – and found a dire, hidebound system of bureaucracy, notably in banks and big companies.
I teach many methods of productivity improvement, but all of these rely on a massive fiction – that we can achieve the gains other than in the company restructuring. You can see this when you consider agriculture – it’s 4% of world GDP. In fact agriculture and manufacturing have a burden of three times their GDP in “services” and “government”. It is only by not having this burden on their balance sheets that allows anyone to trade real things. If the better ways of doing such real work translated into more people being available for more real work we would have a different world – but there is no evidence this is what happens.
Half the UK population own less than 5% of the stuff we can put monetary value on – this is standard material in Human Geography (e.g. Danny Dorling). Get any notion of this from BBC coverage? This hardly suggests a fair return for the hard day’s work. And this situation has been getting worse. Massive increases in productivity have only led to falling wages and the rich taking more of the cake.
Our wages in the public sector are paid in relation to the job market. A cop’s or teacher’s wage is linked to what they could otherwise get washing-up or fobbing some punter off in a customer service function or digging turf, minding a lathe and so on. There are currently no real jobs to change to and we are all leveling down to whatever a transported Chinese peasant can ‘command’. If we applied real efficiency in the public sector, we could reduce it by over 50%.
The real issue concerns how we should be investing resources and how we make money do the investment we want. This is almost totally out of control and the ‘banks’ have failed as surely as the Soviet Politburo. For banks we could substitute ‘rich’. The subsidies are not to public sector pensions.
The strikes are really about the abuse of power and lack of any sensible public dialogue that always hides the ‘rich problem’ – just look at the highly paid media tossers putting questions to people aid much less than them as though they are the ‘drain’ with no consideration of their own situation.
The answer is not some dire Communist Paradise but a new view on competition. The model (creaky though it is) to follow is competition that encourages competition along the lines of rugby league. It needs to be global and needs salary caps and transparency. I don’t propose this as a solution but as a simple question on why we are allowing such a massively unfair situation to continue.
Greeks are already trashing their own town centres and it’s likely our current strikes will descend to brutal disorder as the poor find it difficult to get food, stay warm and so on. The answer to our problems is work, but we seem to have no resources to build homes people can afford to live in, tap energy sources under our feet and around our coast, grow our own, produce our own entertainment – this is clearly rubbish as the real resources needed concern our commitment and work.
The strikes evade the real questions, but show that we do not have means to negotiate properly. What are our teachers doing teaching if they are so ‘stupid’? Our cops don’t like the cuts and like everyone else see themselves as somehow ‘deserving’. The good news for them is the Government is going to need them and will make them a special case. The morality of this is dire, but what’s new in this.
My own view is that the crash and the killing fields are coming. I don’t think this on the basis of inevitable economics, but on the general levels of ignorance on what is really going on. The strikes are on because there is no fair public dialogue – but this itself hides the real issues.
Government is involved in all kinds of blunder. We are importing crime, failing to impose the same law and conditions in migrant communities of all kinds, can’t treat our soldiers properly, waste vast amounts of money and all kinds of stuff the ‘right’ hate – but we aren’t looking at the ultimate problem of political relationships with the rich and banks and seeing this as the actual governance that is letting us down (I suspect fearing the only alternative is even bigger government). Democracy has died and we haven’t spotted it.
Strikes are obviously irrational – not least because strikers never get their money back. I prefer this irrationality to belief that the rich are necessary and good for us. As for the teachers, they must know this is a token strike and that if they are to be effective they will have to really hurt parents after the summer break to change any of this idiot government of the rich, for the rich. They will realise they are fighting our battle long before that and give in. Poetic justice in some senses – they have failed to teach what matters for over 30 years! The last hope is that it has sunk into our collective unconscious.
If we have seen massive productivity rises (and they are huge), shouldn’t we expect to be able to work proportionately less – this equation should mean earlier retirements even given longer lifespans. Agricultural and manufacturing has achieved massive productivity increase – we have clearly wasted this on “services” and counter-productive accumulations in few hands. We should be taking on the ‘power’ responsible for this – but we clearly have no democratic means. It’s an old story and previous versions end in war.
There’s a parallel between the lies of official police statistics – with ‘crime’ allegedly contained and on the way down – the truth being massive increases in anti-social behaviour and crime in areas not recorded – and ‘the economy’ – both using similar accounting techniques similar to those in banks – hiding losses behind a dam about to break.
Twice as many cops with much better equipment and vastly more civilian support seem to be doing less well than those in the much smaller force in which people like me, Hogday and Dickiebo served along with an array of decent people and blundering buffoons, It could be that we were drawn from a better pool and worked in a cleaner ocean. Yet the average cop is now better ejukated than our peers and when I meet them seem not much other than chips off the same block and mostly decent souls.
What I suspect is that not much has changed and this is the problem. We lied about crime rates, detection rates and exposed officers to hopeless situations without the right laws and equipment then and it continues now. Many of the problem people we dealt with are the same now – what’s changed is there is no economy to suck them away from crime – and particularly no factories or easy places to find work lifting things or digging holes at a rate of pay well above benefit levels.
IQ has perhaps budged up a fraction, but the intelligence pool has not, despite all the qualifications people think they have ‘earned’. A degree is worth about 2 ‘O’ levels in old currency – tell me what the ‘efficiency gain’ is here! Ejukation has replaced the old training grounds in big and small companies, the merchant marine and the armed services. It does none of the old job for people who don’t ‘get’ school. GCSEs look remarkably similar to CSEs, the old qualification for kids who couldn’t hack school. Many of the eastern Europeans who nipped over to ‘take our jobs’ were educated in the old Soviet system.
The pit and factory were almost certainly better alternatives than yet more pointless school for those not suited to school ejukation than further incarceration as bricks in the wall and we should have done much more to ensure well paid jobs at the bottom. Instead, we have failed totally to protect this group of people and pretended they could be educated. In my view this is an example of the intense cruelty forced on this group who have also been the biggest victims of immigration.
There were no strikes in the USSR (there were really), and though we had adverts from Japan about imagining factories that had never had strikes they didn’t tell us these had been brutally suppressed by US Armed Forces. The Germans do much better than we do, but we pay no attention to what is different in their system. It’s better, more democratic and more successful – not bad for a bunch of failed nazis.
I support the strikes on the basis they show just how backward, undemocratic and stuck in the same mud we are. I suspect we haven’t realised we lost two wars to the USA and are mimicking what we see as their success instead or working out how well we were doing before their ‘help’. HRM coming from the States these days is fascist. We should throw in with the Germans and start selling them comedy!
Very well reasoned. Do you remember that when oil was discovered in the North Sea, then we were all going to become near-millionaires!
I’m afraid that politicians have no answers, just as surely as Union leaders don’t.
A sedated Dickiebo!
I was a union man – though also did negotiation from the other side of the table – no sense in either frankly. What gets to me is people can’t move from recognising these leader-idiots to something more sensible! This said, I’m getting cranky enough to suspect Churchill on the grounds he was half-Yank and a possible OSS spy!