Torynomics 38


There are times when I feel a total disconnect from the mainstream media. Political commentators appear almost universally to have concluded that George Osborne’s speech yesterday was a success, that he has “Grown up” or “Come of age”. Am I alone in thinking that Osborne sounded like a petulant public school prefect? I spent the entire speech thinking “arrogant little shit”, and I would be astonished if quite a few other people did not hink so too.

The incessant repetition of “We are all in this together” struck me as amateur in both concept and delivery. It also brought the thought that multi-millionaires like Messrs Cameron and Osborne are rather less “in it” than ordinary people. If that were not true, of course, he would not have needed to insist so hard on the opposite. The fact that the rich may have to wait up to five years for exemption from inheritance tax seemed to me less than a huge sacrifice on their part: in contrast to public sector workers, who are expected to take a pay freeze, and working people who are expected to retire later – both to finance the massive subsidies paid to bankers. The Conservatives are no better than New Labour in seeking to hide their determination to let bankers’ obscene salaries and bonuses continue, hidden behind a smokescreen of hypocritical rhetoric.

You may be surprised to learn that personally I believe that the public sector should be kept to below 40% of GDP, which is to say that it should be cut by over 25%. That makes me more radically anti-state than the Tories. There is a huge amount of waste in public expenditure, especially in local government.

My solutions are more radical. The local government system suffers from a disconnect between provision and finance. It is admministered locally but financed centrally. Your council tax only accounts for a tiny percentage of the council’s expenditure, so the ability to relate performance and provision to cost is lost on the taxpayer/voter. At least 80% (100% in wealthy areas) of all local services, including education, should be funded through wholly variable local income tax. National income tax would be correspondingly reduced and council tax abolished. Up to 20% central government subsidy might be paid to poorer regions.

If voters were paying 15% of their income in tax to the local authority, they would take much more interest in local government, and wonder why they were paying for over-inflated and almost completely useless social services departments, and why the deputy manager of the leisure centre was on £85,000 pa. I can think of no single change which would lead to a more radical reduction of government expenditure.

The other major change would be smaller, leaner public services which simply go on with delivering the service direct, with minimal administration. This is the opposite of what the Tories would do. In particular, we need to cut out the whole complex administration of “internal markets” within the public services, where vast arrays of accountants and managers spend their wasted lives processing paper payments from the government to the government.

Let me tell you a true story which is an analogy for the whole rotten system. As Ambassador in Tashkent, I had staff from a variety of government departments – FCO, MOD, DFID, BTI, Home Office etc. In addition to which, some staff sometimes did some work for other than their own department. This led to complex inter-departmental charging, including this:

I was presented with a floor plan of the Embassy building, with floor area calculated of each office, corridor and meeting room. I then had to calculate what percentage of time each room or corridor was used by each member of staff, and what percentage of time each member of staff worked for which government department. So, for example, after doing all the calculations, I might conclude that my own office was used 42% of the time on FCO business, 13% of the time on BTI business, 11% on DFID, etc etc, whereas my secretary’s office was used ….

I then would have to multiply the percentage for each government department for each room, lobby and corridor by the square footage of that room, lobby or corridor. Then you would add up for every government department the square footages for each room, unitl you had totals of how many square feet of overall Embassy space were attributable to each government department. The running costs of the Embassy could then be calculated – depreciation, lighting, heating, maintenace, equipment, guarding, cleaning, gardening etc – and divided among the different departments. Then numerous interanal payment transfers would be processed and made.

The point being, of course, that all the payments were simply from the British government to the British government, but the taxpayer had the privilege of paying much more to run the Embassy to cover the staff who did the internal accounting. That is just one of the internal market procedures in one small Embassy. Imagine the madnesses of internal accounting in the NHS. The much vaunted increases in NHS spending have gone entirely to finance this kind of bureaucracy. Internal markets take huge resources for extra paperwork, full stop.

The Private Finance Initiative is similarly crazy; a device by which the running costs of public institutions are hamstrung to make massive payments on capital to private investors. What we desperately need to do is get back to the notion that public services should be provided by the State, with the least possible administrative tail. The Tories – and New Labour, in fact – both propose on the contrary to increase internal market procedures and contracting out.

All of George Osborne’s vaunted savings proposals yesterday would not add up to 10% of the saving from simply scrapping Trident. Ending imperial pretentions is a must for any sensible plan to tackle the deficit.

The Tories have adopted one plan I advocated in Norwich – tax breaks for start-up firms. One of the reasons for the failure of British entrepeneurship is our insistence on taxing firms even as they struggle to first establish themselves. George Osborne has only proposed a two year break on employment taxes – I propose a much more radical five year exemption from all taxes – but at least he has noticed the right problem.

All state personal payments should be means tested. It is time to slaughter the sacred cows of the welfare system. Lloyd George’s old age pension saved us from the horrors of the workhouse system and brought a sense of entitlement and dignity to working people, but after precisely a hundred years it is time to move on. Peculiarly, if all state benefits are means tested, it will remove the stigma. Many pensioners, including some close to me, take the basic pension but refuse to apply for income support. If all state payments were made through a single income tax assessment procedure, the stigma problem could be tackled. So would the nonsense of the Duke of Westminster’s entitlement to a state pension and child benefit, and the billions spent in recycling money to and from the middle class via the state.

There would still need to be a cut-off age at which the State no longer expects people to work -though retirment should be voluntary, not compulsory for those still able and wanting to work. Here the Tories are insensitive. It is a national disgrace that the difference in average life expectancy between districts in the affluent South of England, and inner city areas in our older industrial cities, can be as much as twenty years. In parts of Glasgow men struggle to live to retirement. There is also the law of unintended consequences here – any increase in retirement age will bring an immediate and major increase in those claiming incapacity benefit, the Tories’ favourite bugbear. The solution is to make it easier for people to continue to work voluntarily, and means test all payments. But the entitlement to retiire at 65 should remain until the benefits of increasing good health have reached all workers, not just Tory voters.

I hope that offers some food for thought. I also hope that it does something to remove the continuing misimpression that I am left wing….


38 thoughts on “Torynomics

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  • Roderick Russell

    I’ve eliminated all links. They were in the positions marked ######## . The comment loses sense with the elimination of the links, but at least you can see what happens. Incidentally emailing me is usually a waste of time since invariably it will be intercepted. RR

    —————————–

    Ruth ?” In answer to your question, may I just quote from an article that I published? I would also recommend that you review my wiki as the details are there. The quote from the article whose URL is ######## as follows.

    “The story begins years ago when an executive chose to leave Grosvenor International, a large private company owned by The Duke of Westminster.

    Though he had done an excellent job, years of character assassination followed. It then moved to threats to stop him from complaining. The company is a powerhouse in financial and royal circles and has boasted about its intelligence connections.

    There are multiple witnesses to support his allegations of threats and cover-up, and before speaking out he made every attempt to go through normal channels: police, politicians.

    The facts were put before both Canada’s Prime Minister Harper and former UK PM Blair and the cover-up still continues. The threats also continue.”

    ——————

    Ruth ?” FYI. Grosvenor International was a Vancouver-based company that owned the non-British assets of the Grosvenor family, and its associates. This was the company that slandered me.

    In 2004 (formally in writing) I advised the Trustees of The Grosvenor Estate (in London) as to the position. In my comments to you that are annotated to one of Craig’s earlier articles, I wrote “in 1985, an employee whom I referred to as Mr. X left the company: He was not only slandered professionally, but I know they used the intelligence services to do it.” This is an outline of a blueprint describing an earlier professionally done job of slander and defamation within the then Vancouver Head Office of GIH. In my 2004 report to The Trustees I detailed this example, including names since it serves as a precedent to my own professional slandering. I also described evidence of my own slandering (including names) and of the criminal intimidation we had been subjected to. Although, in 2003, I had contacted (without reply), Mr. Bill Abelmann, then head of Grosvenor Americas, whom I had known well, telling him what was going on and asking him to put a stop to it, it is possible that prior to my contacting them in 2004 that the Trustees in London were unaware of the slandering et al. I have never said anything else.

    If you review the wiki (Chapter – The Big lie Strategy) and my earlier article #########

    you will see a blueprint as to how the intelligence services run a professional character assassination / defamation campaign.

    Immediately after Grosvenor Trustees receipt of my report, we were intimidated 3 times, and in the following months a huge cover-up conspiracy kicked into operation. There is sufficient proof to show that this conspiracy, which is designed to ensure no honest investigation takes place, goes to very high levels. Those responsible for the cover-up conspiracy know who the criminals are, since they must know who they are protecting from justice.

    In 2004, The Duke of Westminster was Chairman of The Trustees of The Grosvenor Estate. The UK Press has reported that he is Prince Charles’s best friend and the appropriate press references are on the wiki for anybody to check.

    Ruth, if you want to discuss this further, or have any more questions, please contact me. I am not going to answer questions on a blog, except to refer interested parties to my wiki. You have my contact details.

    The Wiki is ##############

    Roderick Russell

  • Fred

    Just in case anyone here is “labouring” under a misapprehension.

    All figures are rounded off somewhat. (ie.not particularly accurate)

    Bank loses $1 Trillion. Gov bails out bank to tune of $1 Trillion. Taxpayer repays bailout to tune of $1 Trillion.

    So thats a $3Trillion shift.

    National average wage £480.00 p/w

    National minimum wage (40hrs)£232.00 p/w

    Job seekers allowance (approx)£51.00 p/w

    Incapacity benefit (high rate/long term) £90.00 p/w

    So, vent your spleen by all means, just be sure and point it in the right direction. I know who I’d send to the Guillotine.

    How many deep fried mars bars could I buy with $1 Trillion?

  • tony_opmoc

    David McGowan is back in fine form. I think his analysis of crucial events from 9/11 to peak oil were years ahead of most people, and then he seemed to find it all too much and started writing hippy fiction – or maybe it was true – but it simply wasn’t interesting.

    Now who the hell is David McGowan? Well you can find him at his website. His writing is not suitable for the Twitter generation who can only communicate in the modern equivalent of morse code.

    davesweb.cnchost.com

    Personally, I completely believed that the Americans landed on the moon for around 30 years. I knew it was true, I saw it live on TV and all the scientific community agreed with me…

    Then about 8 or 9 years ago, I did my own research into the subject, and when I wrote my conclusions, everyone thought I was mad. Whilst I agree with that conclusion, Dave says it with far more style using 1000 time more words.

    You should read the Center for an Informed America, though you probably won’t believe it, it doesn’t mean its not true.

    Tony

  • Frazer

    John D

    A/ How Much ?

    B/ As Craig knows I have spent a lot of years overseas, and I know he is hoping that I buy a little bit of paradise so he can come and visit with la famiglia.

    When I do, you too are welcome to visit, bet you a small wager that you will have little motivation to return to our isle !

  • George Dutton

    Had a trawl on what was going on around the last BIG financial collapse the Tories/Labour/Lib Dems got us all into. Nothing has changed…

    http://tinyurl.com/ybvmqmv

    “Timeline of events”

    tinyurl.com/cb6gtq

    Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes is the definition of insanity.

    Click on my name to find the cure…

  • Ed

    tony_opmoc: “You should read the Center for an Informed America, though you probably won’t believe it, it doesn’t mean its not true.”

    As I have read quite a bit about the Apollo program and have a reasonable understanding of spaceflight and physics in general I read the “Wagging the Moondoggie” page – sort of for calibration. The first two thirds of it seemed to me to indicate that the man’s a bit of an idiot but the last part was better; it showed definitively that he’s an ignorant idiot.

    The bit about the speed at which things fall on the Moon shows such a lack of understanding of basic physics (e.g., the distinction between mass and weight) that it could only reasonably be used on a moon-hoaxer parody page.

  • Marc

    Nothing to say about the speach.. I missed it.

    Talking about waste.. I was contracted to the DWP for I.T. installations. It may suprise you all to know:

    To move one computer from one desk to another costs roughly £500! £160 to switch the port. £160 to repatch the port (This is what ‘British’ Telecom charge). The rest you might think goes to the guy installing the computer. It doesn’t. Once the agencies (parastical scumbags), take their cut. The contractor is left with very little. To add insult to injury we (the contractors) were doing about nineteen hour days, up to the full seven days a week. If you didn’t tow the line (or have a mate at the agency)you’d be sacked for refusing the job. When times were good, EDS (absolute pack of bastards)paid the agency £40 an hour for a team-leader. The team-leader would recieve only £19 an hour once the agency took their cut. No-one at those agencies risked death on the roads. No-one at those agencies cars wore down. No-one at those agencies had to shell out thousands of pounds of their own money for qualifications. Only to be pipped to the post by a ‘people person with a driving liscence’, or the project manager’s son and his mates. <– The good old days.

    Now most of the same rules apply ‘cept for the fact we (the contractors) have to work for as low as £7 an hour. The agencies still get the same rate. Something has to be done. The agencies are bleeding the workers dry. For what? None of the agency planks pick the right people. They are mostly young, brainless liars that would rather get thier mate security clearance for an MOD site. Knowing that they have stolen from other sites.

    Sorry guys. Had to rant this one out to someone….

    I would have disguised my email etc from the site. If I planned to work in I.T. again.. however.. I don’t. Let my unqualified, imoral, light-fingered friends do their bit. Can’t wait to see what happens to the Great British I.T. infastructure in the future.

    Why is it soley run by an american company by the way????

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