N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators’ bloc


1:20 pm - November 25th 2011

by Dave Osler    


      Share on Tumblr

Good thing I won’t have to take David Cameron up on his stupid idea of bringing the kids into the office when teachers go on strike next Wednesday. I can just picture the chaos that would inevitably result.

The 11 year old would sulk in a corner all day long, telling anyone who politely introduced themselves that she really, really hated them and never wanted to speak to them ever again. Knowing my luck, she would demonstrate her awareness of the F-word within earshot of the chief executive.

The younger one would charm all adults in the vicinity, lisping and giggling as she happily skips around the building, innocently saying things like ‘what happens if I press that button, daddy?’

At that point, she would lunge for the button in question and irreversibly delete the firm’s principal database, compiled through decades of round the clock labour on the part of generations of wage slaves.

But no. Despite being a private sector wealth creator myself, I have taken November 30 as annual leave, expressly to show solidarity with millions of striking public sector slackers, all seemingly determined to leech off the fruits of my toil.

The way that some newspapers tell it, the big problem with this country is that ‘we’ – as in journalists and lawyers and PR consultants and owners of twee nick-nack shops on Stoke Newington Church Street – do all the work around here.

Meanwhile, ‘they’ – meaning hospital porters and coastguards and dinner ladies – sit around scratching their arses from nine to five, just counting off the years until they can qualify for their gold plated pensions. As most readers will be aware, things are just not like that.

With the exception of a two day temp job as a student, I have never worked for the public sector in any capacity. Yet I can recognise an attempt to divide and rule when I see it. All workers have a common interest in ensuring that pension entitlement is levelled up, not levelled down.

I will be there on the demo to say thank you to those teachers subjected to more face time with my evil offspring then I suffer myself, and to all the NHS staff who looked after me when I had an operation earlier this year, and the people who make sure that my rubbish disappears and that the streets I walk down get cleaned and that the restaurants I eat in maintain minimum standards of hygiene and do all of the thousands of other vital tasks the public sector undertakes.

If anyone else in my position has similar plans, get in touch and maybe we can form a private sector wealth creators’ bloc as a counterweight to those bloody anarchists. Dress code: business casual.

 

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Events

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


I’ve worked in the public sector, temping for DEFRA because their procedures for hiring permanent staff were Kafkaesque. Maybe it was just DEFRA, perhaps even just the office I was in, but I saw very little evidence of people doing much more than “scratching their arses from nine to five”. There is no way in hell they could have behaved like that for long in the private sector, either they would have been fired or the business would have gone under.

Some people in the public sector do wonderful things, some are, I’m sure, overworked. The problem is that there seems to be no effective mechanism for getting rid of the lazy, the incompetent or the redundant, (any attempt to bring in compulsory redundancies on anything other than bonkersly generous terms would cause a general strike).

Cameron is clueless a complete waste of space.

3. Chaise Guevara

@ 1 Falco

“There is no way in hell they could have behaved like that for long in the private sector, either they would have been fired or the business would have gone under.”

I’ve seen that in the private sector too – people who literally spend most of each day reading a book. Sometimes it’s down to big variations in workloads (although with the examples I’m thinking of, they could have been doing something useful instead), sometimes it’s just that laziness is so endemic that the people in charge have a grossly exaggerated idea of how much time is needed to complete routine tasks.

This CAN kill companies, but it doesn’t have to. Firms tend to have a lot more leeway than an artist’s impression of a capitalist’s market would suggest. Maybe their competitors have the same problem, or different disadvantages, maybe they survive but make a much smaller profit than they could.

There are pressures in the public sector too – you could just as well argue that a newly elected government could easily fix very unproductive sections of the public sector, which would be so embarrassing for the previous government that they’d be very unlikely to be voted in again, and that this would create a huge incentive to avoid inefficiencies in future. This doesn’t really happen, and the reason is the same for both sectors: nobody is actually competing with perfection.

“The problem is that there seems to be no effective mechanism for getting rid of the lazy, the incompetent or the redundant”

So instead of adopting a sensible work appraisal and management system to identify and dismiss the lazy and incompetent, we’ll just penalise the lot and steal from their pension funds.

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 1 Falco

Oh, and…

“any attempt to bring in compulsory redundancies on anything other than bonkersly generous terms would cause a general strike”

…I understood that redundancies were for getting rid of people whose jobs have become, well, redundant, not for getting rid of lazy individuals who deserve it. I believe it’s illegal to make someone redundant and then hire someone else in the same role.

@3 – certainly true to some extent, the larger a company is, the more dead weight it can carry before collapsing. There is though, more of a motivation to fix things than in the public sector and even a very large private company will tend to have a lower “lead swinging period” before an employee is dealt with.

“you could just as well argue that a newly elected government could easily fix very unproductive sections of the public sector, which would be so embarrassing for the previous government that they’d be very unlikely to be voted in again,”

The politician’s first rule is “don’t frighten the horses”. That is why the above doesn’t happen. Nor will it until we reach a total collapse style crisis that brings in a government with a powerful mandate to cut costs, (see 1979 for the last example however badly done).

“nobody is actually competing with perfection”

People know this, the point is that the public sector is not “competing” at all. Without that incentive you need to have something to replace it, not an easy thing to accomplish.

“we’ll just penalise the lot and steal from their pension funds.”

I don’t think cats should be allowed to shit on the sofa so obviously I’m in favour of the wholesale slaughter of kittens.

7. Chaise Guevara

@ 6

“There is though, more of a motivation to fix things than in the public sector and even a very large private company will tend to have a lower “lead swinging period” before an employee is dealt with. ”

Generally true. There are factors going the other way – for example, the public sector has to worry a lot more about public perception of its day-to-day internal practices – but I agree that inefficiency in the private sector is more dangerous. I was just pointing out that it’s not a straight dichotomy.

“The politician’s first rule is “don’t frighten the horses”. That is why the above doesn’t happen. Nor will it until we reach a total collapse style crisis that brings in a government with a powerful mandate to cut costs, (see 1979 for the last example however badly done).”

Partly true. It’s probably also because there is a limit to the number of things a prime minister or even an administration can focus on, and if an inefficient office isn’t causing any highly visible problems it might simply escape notice.

“People know this, the point is that the public sector is not “competing” at all. Without that incentive you need to have something to replace it, not an easy thing to accomplish.”

There can be advantages to this, of course – in some cases I’d prefer an organisation to be focused on customer care than on financial return. The worst-case scenario is a private monopoly in a sector with ludicrously high barriers to entry, and in fairness we tend to regulate these industry (rail, water etc.).

““we’ll just penalise the lot and steal from their pension funds.”

I don’t think cats should be allowed to shit on the sofa so obviously I’m in favour of the wholesale slaughter of kittens.”

You’re the one who has defended the govts position by arguing public sector workers who are lazy are too difficult to fire.

9. Chaise Guevara

@ Planeshift

“You’re the one who has defended the govts position by arguing public sector workers who are lazy are too difficult to fire.”

To be fair, saying that it’s too hard to fire lazy workers is not the same as saying all workers are lazy and deserve to be fired.

10. Margin4error

It is interesting to note that when people actually talk about their experiences of work, in the public and private sectors, just how similar they really are day to day.

I’ve worked in the private sector all my life – and have railed against the problem of companies not sacking lazy and incompetent staff. I know plenty of people in the public sector who do likewise.

Though that is very much nothing to do with the protests being planned. As an employer, the british people have a duty to stick to their contractual arrangements and pay staff the pensions they have agreed to pay.

As for the “wealth creator” nonsense – well, anyone who knows anything knows the public sector creates wealth too. It is just a lazy cliche to pretend the health and education of our people, the security of our property and personal safety, the feeding of our children and the protection of our nation against foreign invasion to not constitute wealth.

11. Torquil Macneil

“we’ll just penalise the lot and steal from their pension funds.”

Oh come off it! These reforms will still leave them with fantastic pensions. How many of them would be able to save the £500,000 plus they would need to buy an equivalent pension in the private sector?

12. Margin4error

Torq

Be fair – do we really want to analyse these “fantastic” pensions?

Overlooking that the public sector pension liability at present is entirely affordable (it is projected to rise to just over 2% around 2030) – it is worth noting that public sector staff often do jobs with a relatively high degree of danger, or with relatively low wages for the relative level of qualification.

Teachers and solicitors are a good example of this.

Private sector teachers earn similar money to solicitors. Hardly surprising that. They have roughly equivelent qualification expectations (a degree and subsequent post graduate qualification)

Some like to argue that solicitors face greater job insecurity – which is anomalous as solicitors actually have relatively stable careers compared to many – but even if it is true – they also face significantly less personal risk. (Teachers face greater ill-health in their work, because of exposure to lots of children – and face greater scrutiny of their actions because of concerns over anyone who works daily and in relative isolation with vulnerable people and children)

Yet we pay teachers roughly half what a solicitor gets – because teachers work in the public sector. OK – fair enough – we’ll put that in part down to teachers being people who have a social concience and so do publicly valuable work – as opposed to solicitors who chase money in the private sector (unfair on solicitors of course, who are often motivated by more than money too)

But then when the pension age kicks in – we give them the pension they should have had had they earned a fair wage for their life’s work.

hardly a terrible thing for the public – as an employer – to do.

Equivelent summaries can be offered for civil servants – who run operations far larger than banks’ investors or senior accountants – and who face public scrutiny over their private lives and who they have dinners with. They earn far less than those equivelently qualified roles in the private sector – but we give them pensions in line with market levels for the market wage – rather than their heavilly limited wage.

beyond that there’s firemen, police and soldiers – none of which are highly qualified roles but that carry significant personal risk in he pursuit of their daily lives. Is it so terrible that we reflect that with relatively “fantastic” pensions?

And here’s the crux of the matter – if we are saying that public sector staff should be paid according to market norms – that will cost the public purse a hell of a lot more than paying them low wages while working, and leaving pensions at what they should have had they earned a market wage.

so – shall we consider doubling teacher pay? And nurses? And civil servants? And doctors? And, well, just about everyone in the NHS obviously, given the pay levels available in the same profession across the private sector?

13. Margin4error

or in other words torq

many of them would be able to save pensions of half a mill if they were paid in line with market wages. But we can’t afford to do that for them, so we give them pension support to make up the difference.

Dave,

As a PCS member in a department of the CS which has been led to the brink of breakdown by executives (golden-) parachuted in from the “thrusting, dynamic, go-ahead” private sector, my heartfelt thanks for your solidarity.

And if those in the private sector would like collectively to grow a pair, form/join effective unions and fight for decent pay and pensions for themselves, I’m sure we’ll give whatever help we can (pro-business, anti-union legislation permitting, natch).

15. Frances_coppola

Some of us can’t afford to take a day’s leave in solidarity, because we only get paid for what we do – we don’t get holiday pay as such. I’m talking about the self-employed, of course. However, because some of us work in schools it looks as if we will lose a day’s pay anyway if the school is closed due to a strike. Do you think we should have been consulted?

Employees in the public sector are not compelled to join the pension scheme but most do so in order to ensure that they are self sufficient (not rich) when they come to retire.
I suppose they could always forget the pension scheme and spend the money saved on holidays abroad or whatever they fancy, then they can rely on the state for pension credits ect.
Beware of killing kittens, you never know what they deter from crawling on one’s sofa.

12. Margin4error: “But then when the pension age kicks in – we give them the pension they should have had had they earned a fair wage for their life’s work.”

More accurately, a public sector pension or a company funded pension is deferred worker payment. The pension is money that has been saved up over the years when the employee received a smaller monthly wage packet.

18. Leon Wolfson

@11 – Oh yes, I mean, they might barely see what they paid in again. Fantastic! Until the next round of cuts. And the next. And….

@11. Torquil Macneil: “How many of them would be able to save the £500,000 plus they would need to buy an equivalent pension in the private sector?”

Let’s do the reverse engineering of a £500,000 public sector pension pot. That money is supposed to pay an income (say 50% of final salary) and an initial splodge of dosh. It suggests a pension of £30k per annum, on a final salary of £60k. That’s how much a junior professor earns.

There aren’t many junior professors in UK HE and there are aren’t many others in related jobs (private and public sector) earning that much. Most public sector workers have a tiny pension pot.

Cock

21. Leon Wolfson

@19 – Right. They’re firing them and replacing them with hourly paid staff.

not quite sure I can follow Mr Hitler in post 20 but here goes…

Anyway, all these hard done to private sector workers ought to take advantage of the free market and get themselves a nice cushy public sector job instead of whingeing about how they’ve put up with being crapped on by their employers for the last 15 years… I mean how wimpy are they?

“Oh come off it! These reforms will still leave them with fantastic pensions”

Only if you are naive enough to believe that the new arrangements will last another few decades. This new arrangement will probably hold until 2015 or 2016, when a new ‘black hole’ will be discovered, and the right wing media will egg on the government to make the terms harsher.

In recent years the government has had a habit of changing the pension scheme every few years or so because it knows public sector workers are an easy target, the unions get a strike so their members keep contributing, the government wins the PR battle so the public hates the unions, and a compromise gets agreed. Until a few years later when the government’s usual tactic of ‘efficiency savings’ fails to find enough cash, so they raid the pension scheme again and the cycle repeats.

I find it deeply amusing that libertarians are all in favour of honouring contracts, except when it comes to public sector workers. Most of those now being asked (again) to take a hit on their pensions, freely entered the scheme in the 80s and 90s, and now aren’t getting what they signed up for. If a private sector pension fund changed the rules as often as the government has been doing, then it’s executives would be facing fraud charges. (Although given the amount of private sector schemes that defrauded their workforce, perhaps that’s wishful thinking.)

@ 23 “I find it deeply amusing that libertarians are all in favour of honouring contracts, except when it comes to public sector workers. Most of those now being asked (again) to take a hit on their pensions, freely entered the scheme in the 80s and 90s, and now aren’t getting what they signed up for.”

I certainly can’t speak for all Libertarians, (anyone seen a professional cat herder?), but I think the general libertarian view would see this as falling under the “force or fraud” category. Unions holding the public to ransom on pay, politicians chuck union members a big pension to kick the problem down the road, etc.

You may not agree with the libertarian view but it is not inconsistent in this instance.

——————

On a more general point, where are you getting this idea that all those employed as teachers etc. would be earning fantastic amounts if only we weren’t artificially holding down wages? It may be true, (I’ll put my hand up and say that I rather doubt it at this point), but it’s an extraordinary claim and requires some solid evidence rather than bald assertion.

@ Steveb – do not meddle in the affairs of cats, they are subtle and will piss on your keyboard.

25. Leon Wolfson

@24 – As a Left-Wing libertarian, the government’s retrospective changing of contracts is disgusting.

And you’re claiming, for instance, that private teachers don’t earn more than public ones?

@23 – It’s why pensions are a scam, even “generous” ones. Whatever you put in will be raided for party political advantage, keep it under the bed, better deal..

A lot of the heat generated over public v private is because we do not know how much the labour many in the public sector provide is really worth and how much value they add. A wage is another name for a price and we just make guesses what that price should be. We know what the price for a hairdresser should be as it is the price an equivalent hairdresser would do the job. We do not know what many public sector jobs are worth because there is not a clear private sector equivalent.

The majority of the public sector probably do a necessary job that does add value and are not overpaid compared to the equivalent job price that has been determined by market forces. However, some are overpaid compared to their equivalent.

Book shelf-stacker in a library that no one goes to because there is such a thing as the internet = someone who stack tins of peas on shelves in Waitrose = overpaid.

PC Plod = security guard = overpaid.

Prison officers = security guard = overpaid.

MP = social worker = overpaid.

GPs= glorified pharmacists = overpaid.

Passport control= could easily be automated = overpaid.

We probably underpay the really good teachers and good hospital doctors who do add tremendous value. However, if we persist in saying that they are all exactly the same, then the good ones will be underpaid.

The question over public sector pensions is not just about whether they are affordable. There is also an issue about whether their funding is equitable on everyone else. A private sector pension is paying what the contributions were worth. Some public sector pension are being paid by someone else. Therefore, it is more generous because someone else is paying for it. Is it really an outrageous idea that people should contribute more to their own benefits? Would it be terrible outrage for a hotel to charge you more if you booked for a week and decided to stay for two? That is the equivalent to increasing life expectancy.

27. Leon Wolfson

@26 – Let’s see. Right, bunch of propaganda.

Information Librarian = Private Librarian, Researcher
Policeman = High-end private security
MP = CEO
GP = Private Doctor
Passport Control = Mix of security and psychology, with investigative skills.

You cannot privatise being able to detect nervous people.

“There is also an issue about whether their funding is equitable on everyone else.”

And your solution is… burn it all. Cackle, cackle, GLEE!

Or…er…we could fix private pensions. Moreover, on the eminently affordable – cheaper than the tax rebate on pensions for higher rate tax payers – public pension, extending retirement age is NOT the sticking point, it’s paying FAR more for FAR less, and the government’s negotiation in bad faith.

24
It’s a shame that Cameron et al haven’t followed your excellent advice.

“I think the general libertarian view would see this as falling under the “force or fraud” category. Unions holding the public to ransom on pay, politicians chuck union members a big pension to kick the problem down the road, etc. ”

Lets take a private sector example; factory in the 1980s has a dispute. Company solves it by agreeing with the union to increase pensions. 30 years down the line it turns out they had no intention of honouring the agreement, and the workers who agreed to it face a substantially reduced standard of living.

The libertarian position is that this is totally fine because one of the parties involved in the contract was a union. And you see nothing wrong with this?

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 26 Richard

I take issue with most of your equivalents:

“PC Plod/Prison officers = security guard”

Are PCs and prison officers paid that much more than security guards? In any case, it’s not equivalent. Both have a duty of care, which means you have to find people who can be trusted to uphold that duty of care, which is valuable, hence justifying higher wages. I also suspect (but don’t know) that both PCs and prison officers face more personal danger than security guards, unless you’re including bouncers.

Also, dismissing the cops as “PC Plod” is cheap. You expect us to accept your disparaging assumptions as part of the argument.

“MP = social worker = overpaid.”

I’m not sure what motivated you to draw that connection, they’re very different jobs. For a start, MPs tend to work longer hours. Secondly, for democratic reasons it’s important that MPs get a decent enough salary not to put people off from running for office (for a single parent on £30k, giving MPs average national pay would be offputting, as they would either have less money for their family or have to take a second job. Someone with a high-earning spouse, or with a large amount of assets, does not have this problem). Finally, MPs are elected officials, and that’s always going to be a special case.

“GPs= glorified pharmacists = overpaid.”

Nope, different level of qualification. Pharmacists aren’t qualified to diagnose diseases that require presciption medicine. If pharmacists could do GPs’ jobs as well as GPs, we wouldn’t bother with surgeries, we’d just let people get their symptoms checked out at Boots.

“Passport control= could easily be automated = overpaid.”

Most jobs could probably be automated to some extent, but I can’t imagine how you could fully automate passport control. And there are other factors that enhance these people’s pay, like personal risk, and having to work antisocial hours.

So, from my POV, the only one of your examples that is fair is the librarian.

Security Guard = PC Plod?

So walking around a factory once an hour at night and then sitting watching TV screens with a cup of coffee and the radio on requires the same skills as dealing with road traffic accidents and casualties, subduing very violent people, informing relatives of the death of a loved one, investigating serious crimes, walking into unknown potentially violent situations.

“The libertarian position is that this is totally fine because one of the parties involved in the contract was a union. And you see nothing wrong with this?”

No, the libertarian position, (in the example you’ve provided), would be that the company officers had committed fraud and should be prosecuted for such.

Whether the company would be able to fulfil the obligations that had been previously agreed the with the union is a separate matter of fact. It may well be that a debt for equity swap in favour of the union would be the only remedy possible and that will often be insufficient with large pension funds.

Sir, good on you for showing solidarity and understanding that there is not really any different between the two sectors, at the end both serve duties and both have set tasks, i know well that public sector people don’t go around thinking that they can do whatever they want because its government funded, because, you know, most people in the world don’t lay their life out on the basis of how the market as a whole is supposed to work.

As for Labour laws, its true that its probably easier to fire people in the private sector, you have to go through a lot of hoops before letting someone go in the Public Sector, which angers a lot of people in the Public sector because it means those who work hard have to do more work and this needs to be fixed, something i think most people in unions would like to do if they could get a government that actually asked how it should be done and isn’t gunning for PR.

Finally, can we stop with this whole getting at each others throats? A race to the bottom isn’t going to solve anything here, perhaps the Public Sector isn’t riding a gravy train and is getting about what its people deserve and the Private Sector should be striving to get better deals? We know we live in an unequal society, one that has grown more unequal as of late, so perhaps some assertion from the Private sector would keep CEO’s salary’s down for the benefit of the majority of hard workers. Otherwise we end up in a weird situation of pseudo egalitarianism where we all gripe and bitch about whoever has more money than us, the completely wrong targets as well, i mean isn’t it totally stupid to whine over what nurses and firefighters make, or if someone gets more days off a year when there are Billions being lost in tax evasion to the super wealthy?

33
Well said

“No, the libertarian position, (in the example you’ve provided), would be that the company officers had committed fraud and should be prosecuted for such. ”

Right, so how is my example different to the public sector scenario? – the union and government agreed deals in the 80s and 90s (and 2007), but now the government has no intention of honouring them.

@35 – It’s not that different really. Any politicians and union bosses that connived to defraud the public should be in the dock, (proving this sort of thing would be a bit of a nightmare but should be possible). The problem and difference is when we get to the remedy; Unlike a company that can go bankrupt relatively easily, massive liabilities on country are not so simply dealt with, (a debt for equity swap on countries is pretty much politically impossible). Therefore, one set or other of the public, (private sector taxpayers or public sector workers), or both, are going to get the shitty end of the stick. The plans as set out, (leaving aside whether future governments will go for further renegotiations), leave public sector workers worse off but still very much better off than if dodgy bastards hadn’t sown up dodgy agreements.

In short, it’s an arse of a situation but someone has to pay for these benefits or the benefits themselves have to be reduced or both. No easy answers, nothing that everyone is going to accept as “fair”, so the only thing to do is keep muddling through and punish those who perpetrated fraud on the public whether as workers or taxpayers. It is basically Admiral shooting time.

@ 30. Chaise Guevara & 31. David Jatt

I am not dismissing them. What I was doing is differentiating between what a basic grade PC does daily and the sexy stuff of solving crimes and bringing dangerous criminals to justice. Most of what a PC does bears no relation to their own propaganda. Most of them at any given time are not attending ” road traffic accidents and casualties, subduing very violent people, informing relatives of the death of a loved one, investigating serious crimes”.The majority of them are walking or driving around like security guards. We know they do a crucial a vital job, they tell us often enough.

” Are PCs and prison officers paid that much more than security guards? ”

I would say so. How can we tell if the price is right. Well one way would be to look at the supply of people who want to be a PC compared to the demand for PC labour at the prevailing price. If significantly more people want to be a PC at the price than the demand for PCs. What does that suggest to you about the price? Moreover, embedded in the price is all the ancillary benefits that are not reflected in the monthly money wage.

Traditionally the argument is that one should pay the police well as that helps to prevent them supplementing their income through corruption. It is a good argument, albeit one that does not say much positive about our system when we must bribe people not to be corrupt.

I would say that there are too many of them rather than they are hugely overpaid. How could we ever not reach that situation considering our politicians. They boast about how many more police officers that they have employed. It is a competition between the two main political parties to see who can outdo the other in employing more. They present employing more police as a symbol of success. I see it as a symptom of failure and nothing to boast about.

Any idea how many single parent MPs we currently have? Again, there is an argument for paying politicians well to prevent corruption. A bit of an indictment that we have to bribe them not to be corrupt. I don’t see the argument that being elected somehow qualifies someone to be well-paid. Ideally the party they represent should pay them and we reimburse expenses. The test for any job is how much it would be missed if the person did turn up for work. If Parliament never sat for a couple of years, hardly anyone would notice the difference. The civil service would just get on with running the country.

“…we’d just let people get their symptoms checked out at Boots. ”

We could, but the people most outraged would be GPs. The UK professions defend tenaciously their exclusivity in order to defend their rents. Rules did not come down from heaven written in stone. They were written by the people who benefit from the rules. A competent pharmacist or nurse in Boots could do most of what a GP deals with daily. Changing rules always upsets those who benefit from the status quo.

The benefit of machines is they do not complain about antisocial hours.

38. Leon Wolfson

@33 – Strangely enough, it’s the right setting us at each other’s throats. It’s almost like it’s in their interest or something.

@36 – Union bosses? Oh of course, because THEIR side are in good faith, they have to be punished too! Sigh.

@37 – Oh, it can’t be that some people want to benefit their community! Doctors, for instance, have motivations only tangentially related to cash.

“The benefit of machines is they do not complain about antisocial hours.”

Nope, it’s that when you work them 50+ hours a week, their productivity doesn’t drop So you can make even MORE cash by laying off the people who you routinely abuse by forcing them to work so much that they’re exhausted.

@Leon 38 – all things considered it’s no surprise you’re a Luddite.

Does it not occur to you that two sides in an agreement, taking resources from a third, can both be guilty of acting in bad faith?

40. Leon Wolfson

@39 – Nope. That’s your own, completely inaccurate reading of what I typed. The important part is the abuse of workers, which you have just effectively condoned.

And certainly, this government and big business are constantly acting in bad faith.

41. Chaise Guevara

@ 37 Richard

“I am not dismissing them. What I was doing is differentiating between what a basic grade PC does daily and the sexy stuff of solving crimes and bringing dangerous criminals to justice.”

Fair enough. Withdrawn.

“The majority of them are walking or driving around like security guards. We know they do a crucial a vital job, they tell us often enough.”

They’re probably at more risk, though, both of being hurt or being put in a potentially compromising situation (e.g. having to intervene in a fight and hurting someone who turns out to be innocent). And it’s a more complex job – they don’t do all that other stuff every day, but they do have to do it often.

“I would say so. How can we tell if the price is right. Well one way would be to look at the supply of people who want to be a PC compared to the demand for PC labour at the prevailing price. If significantly more people want to be a PC at the price than the demand for PCs. What does that suggest to you about the price?”

You’re missing my point about duty of care. That, along with other things, means that many people are not good enough to be cops. It’s no good having 100 applicants for 10 roles if 99 applicants don’t fit the profile.

“Traditionally the argument is that one should pay the police well as that helps to prevent them supplementing their income through corruption. It is a good argument, albeit one that does not say much positive about our system when we must bribe people not to be corrupt.”

That’s a problem with human nature, not our system. As it is, we appear to be one of the least corrupt countries on Earth. What would you do as an alternative?

“I would say that there are too many of them rather than they are hugely overpaid. How could we ever not reach that situation considering our politicians. They boast about how many more police officers that they have employed. It is a competition between the two main political parties to see who can outdo the other in employing more. They present employing more police as a symbol of success. I see it as a symptom of failure and nothing to boast about.”

Again: how would you solve the problem another way? Identifying failure is useless if you don’t have a better suggestion. Increased police presence cuts crime, and also of course it provides jobs. It’s always possible to go too far, but I don’t think we’ve done that.

“Any idea how many single parent MPs we currently have?”

No, but that’s not the point, is it?

“Again, there is an argument for paying politicians well to prevent corruption. A bit of an indictment that we have to bribe them not to be corrupt. I don’t see the argument that being elected somehow qualifies someone to be well-paid.”

Neither of those are my arguments.. although I will say: indictment against what, exactly? And I mean specifically, not a vague culprit like “our system” or “our values”… what specifically is indicted, and what specifically would you, if given the opportunity, change to prevent this?

“Ideally the party they represent should pay them and we reimburse expenses. ”

No good. That would lead to poorer parties being able to field more candidates, and that’s without mentioning independents.

“The test for any job is how much it would be missed if the person did turn up for work. If Parliament never sat for a couple of years, hardly anyone would notice the difference. The civil service would just get on with running the country.”

More people would notice if MPs stopped turning up for work than if, say, the deputy manager of your local Tesco stopped showing up. MPs are actually quite important. And are you honestly suggesting we replace elected parliament with a dictatorship, even for two years? If not, what’s your point?

“We could, but the people most outraged would be GPs. The UK professions defend tenaciously their exclusivity in order to defend their rents. Rules did not come down from heaven written in stone. They were written by the people who benefit from the rules.”

Sure, but rules are changed by politicians, and they would presumably benefit from fixing the system. So what’s preventing them from doing so?

“A competent pharmacist or nurse in Boots could do most of what a GP deals with daily.”

Me with internet access could do that. The problem is that a small percentage of these cases – multiple patients per day – would end up misdiagnosed and possibly killed. I think you’re going out of your way to deny the usefulness of anything expensive to the state, TBH.

“The benefit of machines is they do not complain about antisocial hours.”

Sure, but how would you get a machine to work out if someone looks like they’re up to no good?

I find it deeply amusing that libertarians are all in favour of honouring contracts, except when it comes to public sector workers.

Nicely put, Planeshift. Amusing – but like me, I’m sure you don’t find it surprising…

43. Leon Wolfson

@42 – And again, it’s the Libertarian RIGHT who are pulling that nonsense, not the left.

Public workers are like any other workers, they’re entitled to the value of their labour, according to the contracts they’ve signed. Future contracts, and *reasonable* renegotiation are one thing…

(Like changing the retirement age from an absolute to one based on a good statistical measure of age expectancy IN THAT PARTICULAR PROFESSION!)

Hi Dave,
thank you for your support. I currently work in local government and can promise that I don’t sit around scratching my arse from 9-5. I work part time (18.5 hours a week over 4 days) because of family commitments. Most days I work an extra 30 minutes to 1:30h due to volume of work. Working directly with clients facing difficulties makes it difficult to walk away at times. Some of that time I get back, some I don’t.. I don’t feel I am working harder than my colleagues -every one I work with is dedicated to the work they do.
I will be striking on Wednesday because 3 years ago our pension was reformed to make it sustainable. This may need to be looked at again in the future as people continue to live longer – but not yet. The extra 3% I will be required to contribute will not go into the pension pot but will go to the treasury. It seems to me that this is tantamount to an extra tax, purely aimed at public sector workers, to help reduce the deficit. It was not high levels of public spending that caused the deficit – it was a global banking crisis. So why should my collegues and I be expected to pay for it?
Finally, thank you Dave for recognising that public sector work has an economic value – and I would like to see how the wealth creators would get on without us. You need us and we need you so attempts to create resentment do none of us any favours.

Falco (6) “People know this, the point is that the public sector is not “competing” at all. Without that incentive you need to have something to replace it, not an easy thing to accomplish.”

That’s often used as an argument for getting commercial organisations in to run the public services. As I know from my own experience, though, that doesn’t work unless you can create a *real* market where firms are actually competing to satisfy customers. If the profit incentives point the wrong way, and/or there are ways of playing the system to make greater profits, you can get into whole new dimensions of inefficiency and pointless activity.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. TarekMMourad

    N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators' bloc | Liberal …: Good thing I won't have to take David Cam… http://t.co/W8JqsJFO

  2. Natacha Kennedy

    Nice to see private sector employees not falling for the 'divide & rule' tactic on #N30. Solidarity http://t.co/zysDs23D

  3. Mimi La Foix

    Nice to see private sector employees not falling for the 'divide & rule' tactic on #N30. Solidarity http://t.co/zysDs23D

  4. Finance-For-Life

    N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators' bloc | Liberal … http://t.co/oHi7pOEJ

  5. Your InHeritance

    N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators' bloc | Liberal …: Good thing I won't have to take David Cam… http://t.co/QzBYlIP6

  6. jean jones

    N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators' bloc | Liberal …: Good thing I won't have to take David Cam… http://t.co/O7pLWHK6

  7. Christine Brandt

    N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators' bloc | Liberal … http://t.co/qbhvDDwH

  8. Richard & Christine

    N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators' bloc | Liberal … http://t.co/7rrmmxzR

  9. Corey Davis

    New N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators' bloc | Liberal … http://t.co/lTCK78N1 http://t.co/441AagHT

  10. Doug Michie

    N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators' bloc | Liberal … http://t.co/bJf6T4Ih

  11. TimTiminytimtimtaroo

    Nice to see private sector employees not falling for the 'divide & rule' tactic on #N30. Solidarity http://t.co/zysDs23D

  12. Jamie

    #N30 demo: join the private sector wealth creators’ bloc http://t.co/A8RwGUDg

  13. Nat

    I don't get it. Is this…a joke? http://t.co/NdYJCp5o (via @stavvers)





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.