Plato wrote seven books on the training of people supposed to look after society – his Guardians. I gave up after The Republik – you can get this free on line. My rating of even this famous tome is dross – somewhere below a Zimbabwean high interest bond. Students never came into my business maths modules to learn the maths and understand the limited application of such. They were instrumental, after a piece of paper that would help them get a job. They restricted their in class learning to being able to do the sums set in tests, not unlike the cops and others in ‘diversity training’ and other hapless nonsense learn ‘correct speak’.
Police statistics across the developed world show a consistent drop in crime. Cops know there is really an increase in crime. I’ve heard many comment that the burglars become ‘borrowers from shops’, that there is a massive increase in fraud, the war on drugs is lost and so on. What makes sense of the repeated claims that crime is dropping is a proper understanding of “performance management” – and ultimately the old Soviet style of performance management has taken over our societies. Can you really say the word “targets” these days without wanting to spit?
Not long ago we were being told a new knowledge society was being formed – the left denounced this decades ago as a “risk society” and critique of mainstream neo-liberal, neo-classical and neo-con (there is no alternative) buffoonery stretches back more than a century. Critique largely comes from people on sinecures of one form or another and largely fails to engage the population at large.
Pretty much any complex formal reasoning is beyond most of our population. Universal education has largely failed in this respect. I know plenty of people who can spot that police statistics lie and that bankers lie about their systems and the personal brilliance and risk taking through which they merit vast bonuses. It is also easy to dismiss cops struggling in the day-to-day lunacy of the Swamp, Reservation and Everglades who believe ACPO are pathetic, careerist pen-pushers (think NHS, Care, Banks too). This is “envy” or the attitude of malcontents. The Catch 22 is that to avoid being envious or malcontent one must produce soundly argued critique and any such critique is broadly wasted because the population won’t be able to understand it. Hence ‘dictatorships of the proletariat’ and other unimpressive top-down solutions that first require proles run towards bullets.
Most banks across the world have undergone ‘stress tests’ since the crash. Banks in Cyprus passed theirs 18 months back and are now clearly worth as many multiples of a bag of rocking horse droppings needed to produce a big, fat, zero. The UK and USA are very similar on the debt front on household, corporate and government debt per capita. The UK has vastly higher financial sector debt. I have seen no public exhibition on whether this financial sector debt is a good or bad thing, or even whose money is involved or at risk. I can say, on the other debt, that a 30% wealth tax would put the UK and USA to rights (i.e bring household, corporate and government debt to the supposedly optimal 180% of GDP). When polices statistics get in the news it’s very rare for the material to be treated as performance management and the figures are taken at face value.
We are now 5 years post-Lehman and every six months or so the books get cooked again in front of us. A magician tells us everything is hunky-dory and we get on with waiting for the next bail out – and now post-Cyprus for bail-ins that will take our savings accounts. Across other performance managed tedium we wait for the next Hillsborough, next Baby P, next Nico Bento, next lousy hospital, next miserable treatment of the disabled and old – and so on.
The simple answer is that our “professionals” are lying to us as surely as any Soviet apparatchik (there the apparatchiks have become the entrepreneurchiks). What we have lost, if we ever had it, is accounting based on reality. A question I want an answer to is what would really happen if we collapsed the financial sector entirely, replacing it with small, local banks doing real investment and utility work. Would we starve, not be able to have homes, medical care and things we really need? This is a basic question about our security and one would think politicians and media-types would want us to know.
I regard many organisations as much worse than the police – social work, lawyering, accountants, banksters, politicians and my own academy. The idea of a more “professional” police fore fills me with dread. Our local bobby and CPSO are fine – the problems are in management and we should be looking at much less of this, not paying it more through professionalisation.
The bankers’ (and I think bankster now the better term) role in our society is not explained so we can understand what they do, and much the same can be said of our managers and politicians across our society. They all seem to need vast amounts of produced wealth (sort of money) to do these jobs not explained to us. There were claims not long ago that the financial sector might be producing as much as 40% of our GDP – but now it seems the accounting of this is in multiples of the bag of rocking horse droppings standardised in Value at Risk. They can make up their accounts and do so based on various fantasies.
We need some good management – but I suspect we can’t get any until the lying stops. In the police example we keep hearing the same performance management figures and such matters (if we look) as vast increases in the recidivist criminal population that suggest an opposite of any decrease in crime. Our prisons are full, yet huge numbers of new arrivals already have a dozen community punishments. Politicians may ponse on about human rights, but keep quiet about the UK (and US) as a very poor place to get legal help and access to justice in the developed world.
I take the guess that financial services are almost entirely criminal and no use to anyone decent (we only need utility banking and would be better off with general rather than ‘personal’ pension plans – to cut fees that destroy much of the investment – and banks that could invest in facilities we need and not chase “international rates of return”). No one is explaining to us how our contributions to bail outs is supposed to work and why the vastly competent super heroes of finance can’t use their own kryptonite.
We know damned well what would happen if we abolished the police force and I doubt even criminals would vote for that (the rest of us would kill them). Abolishing ACPO is another matter, as collapsing financial services to utility status would be. Getting on with management reform after collapsing the lies might even give us more cops and allow guaranteed employment (I’d invest in cattle prod futures on account of our more recalcitrant welfare spongers – including banksters newly separated from their ill-gotten gains).