Wasting Ordinary People’s Money 19


Blanket opposition to public spending cuts is not my thing. We have far too large a state. It interferes far too much with our freedoms. It wields far too much physical power through excessive armed forces, it controls a crazed ability to wipe out human life on the planet, it attacks – apparently permanently – other countries and kiils their people. It carries out far too much surveillance of us.

It also wastes the hard earned money of working people on idiots like Martin Samuda. According to his Guardian profile, he has this non-job: “He works within schools as a home liaison officer, and within youth support”. You can catch the tone of the sort of things he does in his job from this article on his good friend Mark Duggan. If Martin Samuda views it as a mere peccadillo, scarcely worth mentioning, to be travelling around London with a loaded firearm (a converted weapon of precisely the type used in the majority of fatal gang shootings in London’s recent past), then what kind of use is he in his home liaison visits?

I have feared ever since the looting that one outcome is going to be an increase in funding for the entire class of social worker/youth leader/paid community leader who pop up everywhere in the media as pundits at times like these. Their refrain is that there is nothing wrong with urban street culture, that its adherents are victims not instigators of violence, and that the way forward is more government money for them.

The horrible death of Baby P revealed the uselessness of the vast hordes of local authority community and social officers sucking money from working people. It was certainly true that Ed Balls treated Sharon Shoesmith scandalously; but not nearly as scandalous as the incredible amount of taxpayers money this woman was getting.

Real communities cannot be developed by the state, and in fact excessive state interference distorts the growth of community and stunts it. There are many things that need to be done to address the problems of our society. One of them is to sack Martin Samuda and anybody else being paid from other people’s taxes in any similar kind of work, all round the country.


19 thoughts on “Wasting Ordinary People’s Money

  • KitGreen

    I had a thought earlier today that states want to be big, and get bigger, because they feel threatened by individuals that have more financial clout than the state itself.

    This obviously is more of a problem where a state is very small and resources are abundant leading to situations such as blood diamonds, but there must be a problem of influence and democracy in all states. Corruption caused by wealth that outbids the state.

    The answer is not more and more invented roles for the state to bankroll. What is the answer apart from accepting a new feudalism?

  • vronsky

    I think you are trying to make an argument by conflating this:
    .
    “too much physical power through excessive armed forces, it controls a crazed ability to wipe out human life on the planet, it attacks – apparently permanently – other countries and kills their people. It carries out far too much surveillance of us.”
    .
    ..with other social roles and services. There is a world of difference between the ethos of a nurse in an NHS hospital and the thugs – sorry, ‘heroes’ – beating innocent men to death in Basra. Some components of the state I could gladly do without, others I need. “We have far too large a state” is a slogan of the unthinking right, the mantra of those who would do away with everything except the might, the secrecy and the surveillance. And they’re making good progress – PFI and other privatisations created wealthy individuals where previously we had serviced needs. The NHS is set to follow next, at least outside of Scotland.
    .
    I’m quite prepared to listen to an argument that the state is too big if it is backed by some traceable construction of what size a state ought to be but I’m afraid I’m aware of no such arithmetic, and none that would not include many value judgements like those above. I find it difficult to reconcile your position on this with your previous warnings on the health service and your recently stated preference for nationalisation of public utilities.
    .
    I work as a volunteer in a notoriously poor community and I certainly meet some people I would rather have avoided. However I don’t have to go such a community to find them – there are plenty of damaging people at all levels in society: if they are over-represented at any social level, then it is at the highest. If you think about it, you might agree.
    .
    Those at the bottom have their own views on ‘social workers’ too, often not very different from your own. You might like this from Tom Leonard (pronounce the words phonetically and you’ll get the idea):
    .
    The Liaison Co-ordinator
    Tom Leonard
    07.10.09
    .
    Efturryd geenuz iz speel
    iboot whut wuz right
    nwhut wuz rang
    boot this nthat
    nthi next thing
    a sayzty thi bloke
    nwhut izzit yi caw yir joab jimmy
    am a liaison co-ordinator
    hi sayz oh good ah sayz
    a liaison co-ordinator
    jist whut this erria needs
    whut wi aw thi unimploymint
    inaw thi bevvyin
    nthi boayz runnin amock nthi hoossyz fawnty bits
    nthi wummin n tranquilisers
    it last thiv sent uz
    a liaison co-ordinator.

    Sumdy wia digree
    in fuck knows whut
    getn pyd fur no known whut thi fuck ti day way it.

  • Dunc

    “The horrible death of Baby P revealed the uselessness of the vast hordes of local authority community and social officers”

    Really, Craig? The fact that the system is not perfect means that it’s useless, or worse than useless? Remember, you only hear about the cases which go wrong – you never hear about the ones which go right. Very poor reasoning on display here.

  • Jack

    I have experience of both sides. As a local government worker for many years – underpaid and under-resourced by an over-salaried management who managed by bullying and lied to the public and central government routinely. So top heavy and financially suspect any private industry would have collapsed into bankruptcy within a month.

    And as a retired person, now chronically disabled and in need – constantly trying to extract more than sympathy and the odd leaflet from a system I rather thought I paid to help me (and, having had the poor judgement to work and save all my life, I still pay for in full). And all the while dealing with an army of ‘coordinators’ and ‘advisors’ who seem to do little to justify their existence – even in the view of someone who used to work (hard) inside the same system.

    British local government is rotten to the core. It’s top heavy and corrupt, and even when changes and even defensible cuts are inevitable, those cuts are left to the very people whose jobs and salaries ought to be first in the firing line – let’s face it, the turkeys are never going to vote for Xmas. Abuses and scandals aren’t just tragic – they’re absolutely inevitable as they’re almost designed into the system.

    But I can’t see much changing, as I see little will to change. Other perhaps than the fact that most government in this country – local and central – is becoming noticeably more arrogant and feels little need to justify itself to the electorate. Just look at public-service media adverts, messages and correspondence – notice how over a decade or two the tone has changed from “please” to “do as you’re told!”

    Next time you meet a ‘coordinator’ or ‘advisor’ – ask him/her to tell you what they do for a living – on one sentence. If they tell you it’s rather too complicated for that – they mean they don’t know or they’d rather not say – or both.

  • vronsky

    “any private industry would have collapsed into bankruptcy within a month.”
    .
    I’ve worked in both private and public sectors. The same origami figures folded from tissue paper hold them both up.

  • Alison Dunn

    As an ex – civil servant still held by the Official Secrets Act despite being held for nearly a decade as the lowest of the low public servants I have had experience of the continuing leaking of taxpayers monies. I myself left a job to Mr redundancy to be replaced by a person who would commute from London to Edinburgh for a year to work in an office of two. There are pockets of this sort of stupidity in many places – yes they are getting looked at more by the people looking at the public purse but many just get through the net.

  • Canspeccy

    Yes, you got that right.
    *
    When William Gladstone was both Chancellor of the Exchequer and PM, government spending as a percent of GDP was less than 5%.
    *
    We need to get back to something like that. But there are a huge vested interests opposed to such reform. Governments love big bureaucracies because it makes them very important: they run half the national economy.
    *
    And with such power, the government can get on with the delightful Fascist task of recreating the nation in its own image.
    *
    Anyway, every political party needs votes, so when the government employs most of the better educated, more intelligent, people, who’s gonna announce a big chop in government?

  • craig Post author

    vronsky

    ah, but I think you are conflating useful people like doctors and nurses, with useless local authority outreach workers

  • JimmyGiro

    Any ‘problem’ that requires an outreach worker, or an awareness officer, was never a problem to start with.

    Therefore, outreach and awareness workers, are tasked to invent said problems, of which they are the ‘solution’.

  • vronsky

    “I think you are conflating useful people like doctors and nurses, with useless local authority outreach workers”
    .
    I wouldn’t conflate either with hired thugs. Returning to the point, utility is subjective – I’d still ask you to push your jotter over the desk so that I can see your working on this ‘size of the state’ thing. There isn’t any, is there?

  • Nextus

    In a previous job, I was responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of community officers. It seemed most of their time was spent supporting the work of the voluntary sector – who are the real cogs in the community machine. Arguably their main benefit to local government is that they serve as spies on the ground, liaising with local activists, directing funds to placate the community and confer a sense of partnership. In effect, they help to quell dissatisfaction and pre-empt organised rebellions against the establishment. (This may be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.)
    .
    Interestingly, many of these community liaison officers had been radical activists, upholding strong socialist principles and demonstrating against the “system”. After years of proving their anarchist credentials, they were finally offered the prospect of helping their communities with a substantial budget. They accepted, and were assimilated. We used to call them “de-activists”.
    .
    A similar tactic is applied on an international scale. If you ever wonder why the UK directs 0.7% of GDP to foreign aid – well, let’s just say it has a lot to do with preserving the status quo.

  • me

    “vronsky

    ah, but I think you are conflating useful people like doctors and nurses, with useless local authority outreach workers”

    Or perhaps diplomats?

  • Nextus

    I was once responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of community officers. Their main function was to support the work of voluntary sector schemes, which are the main cogs in the community machine. Arguably their main benefit to local government was that they helped to quell dissatisfaction and pre-empt uprisings against the “system”.
    .
    Interestingly, many of them had been radical activists in former lives, upholding socialist principles and demonstrating against the establishment. Then they were offered a substantial budget to help their own communities, and were assimilated. We used to call them “de-activists”.
    .
    A similar tactic is used on an international scale. If you ever wonder why the UK directs 0.7% of GDP to foreign aid – well, let’s just say it has a lot to do with preserving the status quo.

  • Nextus

    There is a purpose to all this wastage, of course. I made a couple of attempts to explain, but the contributions got lost in the ether and I’m not going to try again. (If they appear later, I apologise for repetition and respectively implore the mods to do the necessary weeding.)

  • vronsky

    @nextus (“I was once …”)
    .
    I hope everyone reads your post very carefully. It’s the truth.

  • John Goss

    Craig, I didn’t really want to comment on this post, as with other posts I might sometimes have felt at loggerheads with you, but finally I got your link to work, and now I feel I must. Until the police shot Mark Duggan I had no idea who he was. I still don’t know who he was as a person. There are reports that he has a criminal record. But that’s a bit like a conviction before a trial. As with the boiled corpses of Uzbekistani victims of torture under Karizim, I believe his family, who are not happy with the police investigating the police (IPPC), have the right to know what happened and who was responsible. And unless you know something we don’t, and are prepared to share it with us, it has to remain my concern.

  • OldMark

    The dynamic that enables the likes of Martin Samuda to suck vigorously on the taxpayers tit whilst simultaneously extruding drivel onto the pages of the Graun was outlined with great clarity by Tom Wolfe 40 years ago in his minor classic ‘Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers’.

Comments are closed.