Saturday, 18 September 2010

Replace the state?

I've been musing as I do, why can't you just replace the state institutions that leech money from you with menaces?

For instance, I pay over a thousand pounds a year in council tax just to have my bins emptied. Thats the only service I've used. I've tried to access other parts of local government at times like social services or housing benefit, but have firmly been denied provision of service.

So why can't I just go to a private contractor who will supply me with a bin emptying service, probably a private security firm to cover the police and something to replace the fire service. Maybe pay a small contribution to street cleaning.

Thats all I need from my council. I don't need anything else. So why should I pay for more? Why can't I opt out of all the stupid council schemes? Why can't I end the senseless waste of council tax money I see on a day to day basis?

Why is there a monopoly on local service provision? Why don't I have a choice to go somewhere else?

The same goes for the TV licence. Why do people have to pay for a TV licence when they get all of their programmes from Sky? Why do they have to pay twice?

Why do I have to pay for some of the stupid central government initiatives that are in place?

Why do I have to pay for the Olympics when I didn't want it to come to this country?

Why do I have to pay income tax so the DfID can go and piss billions away on foreign soil?

Why is my money going to the EU? Why would I want to pay for an unelected body to issue me with new laws I have to abide by? Where is the sense in that?

In fact, why am I paying twice, thrice or even more for the same thing?* I pay to local government for services that are duplicated by central government, and to central government for services that are duplicated by the EU. Why can't I just pay once, why the duplication and waste?

Why can't I just pay once to a private contractor to replace the whole lot? Why isn't there any competition?

* I say even more because at local government level there can be three different organisations providing the same service to the same area at the same time. Take where I live, the Portsmouth area: its in Hampshire, which has its own county council, which has refuse, housing, social services departments, etc. Portsmouth the city is a unitary authority, so although its in Hampshire, it too has refuse, housing and social services departments, duplicating the Hampshire departments . It gets worse, because in Hampshire there are several town councils and... you guessed it, they all have refuse, housing and social services departments. Its a vast swathe of duplication and job-creation. Anyone that has dealt with local government will recognise the difficulty in pinning down which of these dopplegangers is actually responsible for providing a service to you. A favourite local government tactic is to pass you round each of these services so they don't get landed with actually having to spend money providing you with service and interrupting their tea breaks or endless meetings.

Friday, 17 September 2010

WTF? No, seriously, WTFF???

A school has curtailled outside breaks because of...

A paedo threat? Nope.

A psycho stalker? No, not that either.


Excessive noise.

Give me fucking strength!

Someone, buys a house next to a school and then has the gall to complain to the council about the noise the kids are making at playtime. Someone, somewhere should just tell the the whinging bastard to fuck off.

But no, the school has had to waste money erecting a fence to help quell noise (like that would help, I could hear my kid's school at playtime and I was half a mile away).

And now more money - which is actually taxpayer's money is being wasted on an inquiry and assessment that should never be taking place in the first fucking place.

I just don't understand why someone can make such an outrageously moronic complaint, let alone why the school and the local council see the need to spend money pandering to the fuckwit who complained.

Just get one (or maybe all) of the kids to write a letter to their neighbour in their bestest handwriting, in colourful crayon, saying in big, bold letters:


Targetting the Vulnerable.

Having an autistic son who now lives an independant life, I'm filled with trepidation when the government start to talk about cuts to welfare budgets. Yes, by all means get rid of the spongers and the mickey-takers who shouldn't be on benefits, but don't target the vulnerable.

My son is one of those people who, if not supported hates confrontation and says to people exactly what they want to hear in order to avoid the slightest aggro. Imagine him being put in front of a panel of professionals whose sole aim is to get as many people off benefits as possible. Without any advocacy, he'd lose all his benefits, his rent, home and be out on the streets.

I know this for a fact because every step of the way, I've had to fight for support for him. To the point of dropping him and his packed bag at social services when they had failed to provide more than two weeks of respite care in four years, despite social services themselves making the recommendation in the first place and being told by two complaints panels to honour their own obligations.

I know how fragile the support he gets from the state can be and how easily it can be removed by some over-zealous jobsworth who sees cost-cutting success as a promotion opportunity. I've screamed across tables at people like that a number of times in my career as a dad looking out for his own.

So it comes as no suprise to hear that the cuts decreed on high are starting to be targetted at the vulnerable.

I've heard of a number of cases in the past couple of weeks where day service centres are being earmarked for closeure or where social services are taking steps to rehome people with learning disability in cheaper and less appropriate accommodation in order to save costs. Families and carers are up in arms, but they are a minority that can be safely ignored because they and their loved ones aren't in sufficient numbers to be able to affect voting. So councillors can decree policy for ruthless managers to enact without any risk of losing their perk-filled job.

This is what I mean when I say that the government HAS to start rolling up its sleeves and directly manage the cost savings needed in government. Without that iron grip on finances, letting local managers decide on service reductions will only end with the worst possible outcome.

Cost reductions in the public sector need to be targetted first and foremost at the administrators: those people employed during the New Labour regime to quantify, compare and report adherence to New Labour's target-driven culture. New Labour isn't in government any more, targets and league tables are mainly a thing of the past, so lets start trimming admin staff.

However, there's a problem: trimming admin staff doesn't cut the budget enough so the Albanian Transexual Dwarf noseflute troupe will lose funding. Cutting admin staff doesn't free up a building and land that can be resold to the councillor's developer mate Bob, generating a handy kickback for the councillor.

No, instead day centres close and the buildings get sold and redeveloped. The weak, the vulnerable get displaced, losing access to activities, access to contact with people other than the dozen care workers at their home, access to benefits, access to life.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The ever silent majority

I do wonder what it takes these days to get the public incensed enough to take action.

New Labour came to power, destroyed centuries-old liberties, fragmented the United Kingdom, pandered to the EU's every whim, pissed taxpayer's cash away like never before, fucked up the education system with endless tweaking, politicised the Police, allowed unfettered immigration,  kept millions on long-term benefits, condemned a huge swathe of the country to poverty, jerrymandered votes by pumping vast sums of money into primarily Labour-voting areas, corrupted Parliament with cash for peerages and an unfettered gravy train of expenses and allowances, taxed our pensions condeming us to a lifetime of work or death before retirement, ruined public services by installing targets and therefore neccessitating huge numbers of administrators to administrate adherence to and measurement of those targets, entered into illegal wars with unprepared and underfunded forces, reduced financial regulation causing in part a huge global banking failure and then spent billions propping up those same reckless banks, along with countless other assaults on the body public.

Throughout all that time, the majority of people were silent, safe in some slumber, mesmerised by a manipulated media, unwilling to act to end the worst government in the history of the country. Even when it was ended, it was by a such a small majority we ended up with a hung Parliament, ushering in a coalition government.

Now we have the Tories and Liberals in power together. So far we have witnessed not a controlled reduction in Labour's money-pissing contest, but instead a percentage-fixated, across-the-board reduction, apeing Labour's fixation with targets. There has been no deep budget cuts, but merely tinkering: window-dressing policy statements announcing cuts of little or no substance compared to the depth of those neded. We've seen no increase in financial control, no repentance from the banks and little in the way of sanctions against those that brought us close to the brink. Without proper oversight, we are looking at reductions in front-line services rather than reductions in unwanted administrators, councils targetting the vulnerable like those with learning disabilities reducing their support services rather than reduce the support to those who should be supporting themselves. We are paying in the most painful way for the vices of the ruling elite, the money-men, the people with power.

Again, the public refuse to act.

Instead, the unions are using this vaccum, this lack of will, this apathy in an attempt to gain political power again. Their voice and viewpoint is as false as the voice of politicians. It is not the voice of the people.

I really do wonder what it will take for the true voice of the people to be heard, just what assault against the body public will finally get this great mass of good people to rise up and make their will be known?

I have no idea, but the longer the silent majority stays silent, the deeper this country slides into the mire, the longer and more painful it will be to extract ourselves from it.

We, the people need to wake up soon.

We need a huge repeal of unfair laws, we need reinstatement of long-fought-for freedoms; we need those who took public money to prop up their institutions to pay us back with huge interest on top in order for them to learn the lesson never to do it again; we need those that took us to the brink to pay dearly for their criminal acts; we need more oversight and a controlled, targetted  reduction in the budget, reducing non-essential services, terminating pet projects and removing the armies of administrators; we need to act soon and in significant numbers before those who fear us most hijack our dissent and use it against us.