Sunday, 13 November 2011

How Did we Get Here? What is the State for?

There's been a lot of talk over the years of "cuts". i.e. cutting back public services. The thing is, when I was a kid, public services delivered a whole lot less than they are expected to deliver today.

Decades ago, the council was expected to deliver the basic public services: education, refuse collection, Fire, ambulance, police, etc; plus provide a basic social service like providing council houses.

Over the decades of my life, local councils have moved into providing a whole raft of added services. Every minority demands the provision of a public-funded community centre, social work extends into every aspect of our lives, environmental health has grown to support increasing EU legislation. The oft-maligned equality diversity officer is another position dreamed up within my lifetime.

Essentially, local government has extended beyond the expectations of my generation and those before me.

Today, under the current economic climate, we really need a re-evaluation of our expectations of what government is about, what it really needs to be doing and what it really shouldn't be involved in.

Government, both local and national should be involved in providing the things we couldn't possibly do on our own, like the armed forces, but shouldn't be sponsoring one-legged Latvian nose flute players.

Of course in between, there's a whole area that should also be up for debate. But strangely, there is silence.

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