This isn’t neoliberalism

George Monbiot’s analysis of suffocating bureaucracy in the “marketised” public sector was as accurate as it was depressing to read (We were promised freedom. Privatisation doesn’t deliver it, 10 April). I work in higher education and my wife works in the NHS, and both of us have been driven to despair by the relentless growth of managerial control since the 1990s. The rigid rules and regulations we are bound by, which stipulate not merely which procedures have to be followed for each activity, but how these must be performed, make it impossible for us to do our jobs effectively. The bureaucratic tail now wags the professional dog.

Even while frontline staff are told that lack of funding means posts must remain unfilled, and redundancies imposed, the number of managers increases regardless. These managers then bury already overstretched and stressed frontline staff with more targets, appraisals, medium-term strategic reviews, annual reviews, five-year plans, framework agreements, mission statements, new or revised guidelines, compulsory training courses and away days. As if this was not bad enough, public sector workers are also expected to read a relentless cascade of unintelligible, jargon-filled documentation explaining how they should do their jobs, and what results they are expected to achieve. It is this Soviet-style regime, actually encouraged and embedded by the Tories, that breeds inefficiency, not a lack of professionalism or competence, among frontline staff in the public sector. Doctors, nurses, police officers, probation officers, social workers, teachers and university lecturers desperately want to be allowed to do their jobs enthusiastically and professionally (while fully accepting the need for accountability and efficiency), but the sheer scale of politically imposed bureaucracy and layers of management throughout the public sector makes it impossible.
Pete Dorey
Bath, Somerset

From The Guardian’s letters page.

That might be Blairite managerialism but it’s not neoliberalism, is it? And how demented do you have to be to believe that it is?

Funny that

Fuel prices have hit their highest levels for six months, with the cost of petrol set to rise by eight pence per litre in just eight weeks.

The price hike comes as 25 million cars are expected to take to the road for the Easter holidays, with railway services across the UK being heavily disrupted by improvement works.

Motoring groups last night accused fuel retailers of timing their price rises around the bank holiday weekends, and urged the Government to intervene.

Prices go up as demand does. How odd.

Tiger at Augusta

Yesterday’s man is today’s Masters champion. Impossibly, ridiculously, Tiger Woods is back on top in golf again, with his fused back, his pile of lost years and his talent somehow back from the dead.

I guess we could say he’s back….

Utter Twaddle

Prime minister’s plan to lift mood after Brexit is set to clash with anniversary of Irish civil war

It was meant to be a glimmer of positivity to unite a divided nation – a festival to celebrate the best of British, bring communities together and strengthen “our precious union”.

Yet Theresa May is being warned that her plan for a Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland risks doing the opposite. The planned 2022 event, announced at last year’s Conservative conference, was criticised as a headline-grabbing distraction. But May now faces concerns that the timing clashes with the centenary of Irish partition and the civil war. Arts industry figures in Northern Ireland and some of those involved in the peace process are also understood to have concerns. These worries are revealed in a report by the thinktank British Future, which examined the potential for arts and heritage to bring the nation together. The study calls on the festival to be delayed by at least three years.

What is now the Irish republic became the Irish Free State in 1922, while Northern Ireland remained part of the UK. A civil war erupted among Irish nationalists over the remaining links with Britain and raged for a year. Sunder Katwala, the report’s author, said: “Holding a festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2022, on the centenary of Ireland’s partition and civil war, would be the worst possible timing. It is only likely to heighten tensions between communities – and that’s before we know Brexit’s implications for the border. Right across the UK, a festival so closely associated with Brexit may only reinforce divides when it could be bridging them.”

Bollocks matey.

The anniversary of the Irish Civil War is an absolutely great and wondrous time to celebrate the unity of the UK and NI.

Because, quite obviously the Irish C W was at about the time that we got rid of those who didn’t want that unity.

OK, so we can tell this idiot to bugger off then

Growing Wealth Inequality in the United States and China
That is all only in the United States; some other countries have in much worse. Bangladesh, for example, has an extremely high rate of poverty, and a federal minimum wage equal to about $60 USD per month. (Worstall) That is why so many manufacturers have factories in Bangladesh — they can pay the workers next to nothing. It is a very similar situation in many other south east Asian countries, as well as for China. China, while claiming to be have a communistic economy, has a huge problem with wealth inequality — one of the fastest growing of any country. Shanghai, China has a GDP per capita of $53,370 — only $200 less than the United States — while the Gansu province has a GDP per capita of only $7,641 — just $200 more than Guatemala.

That’s income inequality, not wealth inequality.

We need pay no more attention to this fool then. If you can’t even get the basic concepts right then you’re not worth including in the conversation, are you>

Weasel words

So far this year, the United States, which eliminated measles in 2000, has seen 465 measles cases across 19 states. The majority have occurred in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods in Brooklyn and Rockland county, New York, where parents have shunned the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, seemingly influenced by claims that the vaccine is not “kosher” because it contains “pig DNA”. In fact, the final product is highly purified and most rabbis accept that vaccines are not prohibited by religious laws.

Most rabbis is not all rabbis. And who are the most likely to be out of step with most? The ultra-Orthodox, that’s rather what it means.

Nope, not saying that they’re right, not saying that vaccine dodging is a good thing. Only that that argument, as given, is a particularly weasel one.

Ghastly bastards

Now that Virgin Trains is out of the running on west coast after refusing to back a multibillion- pound deficit in the rail staff pension fund,

That’s the Observer.

The actual thing being that there are pension deficits. And how much should the franchisee be responsible, the franchisee running the trains today and tomorrow, for the deficit run up yesterday?

Roughly, the government’s position is that we’ll let you know. The potential franchisee’s is that we need to know today so as to be able to bid the right amount – the right amount obviously including whatever past pension costs we’re going to be asked to cover.

That not being the way The Observer covers it – the bastards.

This lack of consistency has, largely, benefited the private sector, while simultaneously undermining the rationale of the franchising system. Virgin and Stagecoach were stripped of the east coast franchise last year after admitting they could not meet the promised £3.3bn in contract payments, but were under no obligation to meet that forgone financial promise. It was the third time in 12 years that a private operator had been removed from Britain’s most prestigious rail route after failing to deliver the billions of pounds they had promised to the taxpayer.

Neither of these cases sparked much of a public outcry because, in reflection of what matters most to passengers, safety and punctuality records on east coast have not been disastrous. This is thanks to a UK-wide, multibillion-pound investment programme underwritten by the state and carried out by Network Rail, the government-owned operator of tracks and stations.

The reason they wouldn’t meet the payments? Network Rail was late – again – on that promised upgrade of the line.

Bastards is too mild, isn’t it?

Well, how many should there be?

Stephen Poliakoff says it is ‘striking’ how few Jewish characters are portrayed in British TV dramas

Some 250,000 or so in the population. One in 200. Do we hit that sort of level of representation? In anything where the religion of the character is either im- or ex-plicit?

Actually, the real explanation is this:

Launching his new BBC drama Summer of Rockets,

Gotta say something to get the PR going….

Bully for social and economic rights then

Enhancing the status of economic and social rights in the UK legal system would lead to important changes. For example, English law currently unfairly permits landlords to evict tenants without giving a reason, but to comply with the right to adequate housing no-fault evictions would have to be abolished.

If someone wishes to change the use of their own property then why shouldn’t they? Isn’t the right to property a social and economic right?

There’s a reason for this

French rap superstar Niska: ‘American rappers don’t respect our art’

It’s because you’re doing it in French. No, not a comment upon American ignorance of everything non-American. But, dammit, you’re doing it in sodding French!

Silly business

Rupert Murdoch has been told he must overhaul independent oversight of The Times and The Sunday Times to win government approval for newsroom cuts.

Jeremy Wright, the Culture Secretary, said he was “minded to” approve an application from News UK, the media mogul’s British operation, to lift a ban on staff journalists working across both titles.

However, he said he was “unable to accept the proposed undertakings in their current form” due to concerns about “lack [of] clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities” under a special governance regime meant to curb Mr Murdoch’s influence over UK media.

The rules were agreed with the Government when he bought both newspapers in 1981 amid fears…

The newspaper business has rather changed since 1981, no? But the bureaucracy carries on as if it hasn’t. Huzzah for regulatory control of the economy then, eh?

Amusingly wrong

Someone complains on an old comments thread:

Interesting this Tim Worstall character lives in the past, when by far away life was exceedingly easier back then. As somebody reasonably young I read his work as a remnant of a different era and not realistic. Maybe back in the 1960s back when you did not have to have years of experience to begin with. And you could live in the countryside for months on end with the money you had earned but it is not like this anymore. Realistic for somebody whose life experience is from the past to completely out of touch with the realities of the younger generation. My reality of life is nearer to the depression mate minus starvation to death, that perhaps that may be the reality. Tim Worstall forgets how easy life was after the Depression and Second World War up until the 1980’s and then there was the 1990’s when the inflationary realities changed the world substantially in the time.

Eh?

Once the economy had been gutted it was far easier to buy a hotel. Tim Worstall let me guess lives in a big fine house, with lots and lots of money whose has got where he has gotten where he is through being a realist and seeing the world through rose coloured glasses. Has forgotten his childhood in the depression or the second wall through his remarkable success in life probably unlike the luck of his parents perhaps and their generation la la la.

To be a child in the War/Depression you need to be in your 80s now. Over estimating me by a generation that is. And rather one of my consistent points is how much richer we are all now than even the 80s, let alone 60s.

Still, anon commenters and all that….

How do you get someone like this to see sense?

Traditional neoclassical economics was developed in an era when all knowledge systems essentially ignored ecological concerns. In conventional economics, value – which is created by generating profit and accumulating capital for owners and investors – is systematically extracted from the systems in which economic systems are embedded: the social and the ecological systems.

Profit and capital – they’re not the basis of neoclassical economics. Adding value is, sure. Profit being that portion of it that flows to capital owners. But every economic system is concerned with adding value because that’s the subject under discussion. How do we add value?

Owen Jones

I was never taught about LGBTQ issues, except when a teacher told a class that anal sex was bad for your health.

Well, arguably and in part it is. So are a lot of other things some people enjoy and others don’t.

The usual answer to such being that we tolerate those who wish to indulge yet don’t quite teach 5 year olds how to do it.

Or at least that’s how liberals approach such issues.

So why you paying out £800,000?

It is understood the striker has now agreed to settle the matter out of court and will receive a payment in the region of £800,000.

A spokesman for Brabners said: “We are glad that Ched Evans has agreed not to pursue this case, which we believe was entirely without merit. Brabners put forward a strong defence of Mr Evans claim following a thorough process and we were prepared to vigorously defend our handling of the case.”

Presumably your insurers thought you were bang to rights and 800 large was cheap to get out of it.

Hotel California

Brexit is set to be delayed until Hallowe’en after EU leaders imposed a six-month Article 50 extension on Theresa May.

Can they even do that?

Anyway, fuck ’em.

Finally, what do they hope the deal will be after delay? There’s still no agreement om what we’ll put up with, is there?

This is most fun

It looks like the EU will deliver their verdict on the UK today. It is that we are unable to decide. And because we can’t they’ll give us the time we need to go away and make up our minds.

It’s damning. What they can see is what we know: that we have a political class bereft of ability that is unable to think logically about an issue. Worse, tribalism matters so much that it’s not just compromise that is impossible for them; they are also beyond considering the national interest.

OK. So, the solution?

But most of all I wish for the essential reform that will permit real change in our society, which is electoral reform. We cannot suffer the incapacity that these parties have created for much longer. And that requires fundamental change.

So, we move to a system where the will of the people really is both expressed and enacted? A referendory (referendatory?) democracy perhaps, like Switzerland? Meaning that we’d already be out of the EU?