Monday, 1 October 2012

Lost in translation - what does small government mean?

In Mondays Daily Post Dylan Jones-Evans (the economic adviser to the Welsh Conservatives Party) has an article with the headline "Small Government, not Big Society, should be the focus of Coalition".

A conclusion he reaches is "if a real difference is going to be made to the delivery of public services within such constraints, then the real focus of the UK Government needs to be on encouraging and supporting its own employees to develop bright ideas to make our public sector not only the most innovative in the World but, more importantly, the most cost-effective."

And what is the Coalition Government doing to encourage its own employees to achieve this, um would that be cutting pensions rights, freezing pay and making it easier to sack them - yep go figure.

He also spouts the usual right wing clap trap "that the public sector continue to have low productivity, be risk adverse and focused more on managing process than outcome".

Which may be true for some councils but not all councils, take for example Gwynedd County Council and their contract to maintain the A55 Expressway across the island - see Gwynedd Council A55 Partnership Leads the Way?

And “This is a unique agreement, whereby a public sector workforce undertakes an operational and maintenance service for a private sector company,” said Gwyn Morris Jones, Gwynedd Council’s Head of Highways. “It is also unusual to have such a long term – 18 years – contact in the civil engineering sector.”

Returning to the Prof's headline that the Conservative led coalition government should focus on small government [or small state for it's from the USA] rather than the big society, I got slightly confused because according to one website -  RationalWiki

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has helped to reinvent the concept of Small Government™ in the minds of the British people through his Big Society™ program. The Sunday Times remarked that it was "an impressive attempt to reframe the role of government and unleash entrepreneurial spirit." Through this campaign, Cameron demonstrated his advanced knowledge of Small Government™ by repackaging it for the British public. Because the Brits are socialists, they love Big things, especially government. Thus, they simply cannot understand the benefits of Small Government™ (this is likely due to socialist indoctrination at state schools). Because all government is simply a sliding scale between Small and Big Government™, cuts in government programs aren't just making government smaller, they're making everything else bigger! Hence, the Big Society™!

Rational Wiki who are they you may ask? - from the website  It's best to think of RationalWiki as a bunch of drunken skeptics down the pub pointing at bullshit and loudly shouting "BULLSHIT!" and then returning in the morning to add their references, maybe. Our good stuff is great, though.

To finish, it seems to me this idea of a 'Small Government™'is really a right wing concept from the United States, and Dylan Jones-Evans does really like to point out this or that from the United States in his articles.  I suspect though that should you;for example,ask the majority of the poor of the USA, who did not have nor could they afford health insurance, they may say they have hope now because big government had intervened.  

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