Glueing up the economy

One of the things we want in an economy is flexibilty. For things are always changing and the faster we can adapt to these changed circumstances the less unemployment we will have. Thus the richer we shall be.

For example, the Austrian view of recessions is that they are a period of recalculation: we\’ve worked out that what we were doing isn\’t actually what everyone wanted us to be doing (say, too much investment in houses, or cars) but we haven\’t yet worked out what it is that everyone does want. So while we\’re scratching our heads thinking about it, some people are unemployed: just as other economic assets are going unused.

My own view, for what little it\’s worth, is that this is certainly a part of every recession: although I\’m not convinced that it\’s all of any of them.

However, we do seem to be making things worse for ourselves:

However, the Daily Telegraph has learnt that no more than \”a few hundred\” are ready to start work this week, and barely a quarter of the 30,000 will be able to start work next week.

The Royal Mail is forced to ensure the workers are fully vetted before they are allowed to handle any mail. The rigorous checks follow a series of thefts at sorting offices during 2002 and 2003, when the Royal Mail was fined £11.4 million for failing to check workers\’ backgrounds thoroughly enough.

This mania with CRB checks has simply added yet another inefficiency to the economy. Maybe it\’s worth it and maybe it isn\’t: but I\’m 100% sure that no one even considered this cost in their eagerness to insist that everyone should have such a check.

8 comments on “Glueing up the economy

  1. “This mania with CRB checks has simply added yet another inefficiency to the economy. “

    Difficult to say, though, ‘Well, we should just accept that some will steal the mail they are employed to handle’, isn’t it?

  2. I doubt it would make the slightest difference. People with criminal records are no more likely, in my experience, to be dishonest in a workplace than are people without them. Theft is endemic in the Royal Mail anyway. Allegedly. The only thing that works is to have processes that make theft difficult.

    What’s more, the idea of excluding people with crim records from this sort of work is completely fucking insane. Do you really want them to have no alternative other than further crime?

  3. “The only thing that works is to have processes that make theft difficult”: but have we tried the cutting off of hands?

  4. “I doubt it would make the slightest difference.”

    Oh, but it would if the Royal Mail were sued by its customers and it transpired they’d slipped up by hiring someone with criminal convictions for theft…

  5. “What’s more, the idea of excluding people with crim records from this sort of work is completely fucking insane. Do you really want them to have no alternative other than further crime?”

    Of course not. But you don’t employ them in situations where untraceable valuables are there for the taking, either.

  6. “But you don’t employ them in situations where untraceable valuables are there for the taking, either.”

    Theft is, anecdotally, endemic in large sorting offices anyway, staffed by people without criminal records. The London docks saw a similar phenomenon.

    Your point about litigation is reasonable, though.

    I’m basically suggesting that low-skilled and casual work is ideal for rehabilitation of people who want to go straight. I don’t think many career crims will have been applying to sort and carry mail.

  7. “Theft is, anecdotally, endemic in large sorting offices anyway, staffed by people without criminal records.”

    Then why don’t they soon have criminal records?

    “The London docks saw a similar phenomenon. ”

    While the theft in the docks was endemic, and largely responsible for lockable containers coming into existence, it was largely with the connivance of management (hence the demand for “honesty bonuses” when the pseudo-salary of theft was eliminated).

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.