Angry Public Sector Workers Shout At Me.

What you have in the comments here, is a circle-jerk of indignation from people who enjoyed public spending (largely paid for by the taxes levied on banks bankers by Labour…) which, when the golden goose was killed, suddenly dried up. The public sector are now having a 2 minute hate against the people, like me and millions of others who pay taxes but don’t take much back.

The profit motive is not bad, nor does it lead to worse outcomes than any alternative. Lord save us from the good intentions of public-sector busybodies. CS Lewis put it best:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

The fact is the profit motive has delivered consumer goods to the masses in plenty only royalty in previous societies could possibly imagine. The profit motive is best at allocating resources to those who can use it most efficiently. The alternative to resources going to the most efficient, is they go to the most powerful. And that is why socialism, in its command-economy, market-hating form tends to lead to an enormous pile of corpses.

But because markets ain’t perfect we use taxes to fund that which is necessary, but unprofitable. Dealing with recently released criminals for example. And there is a legitimate argument to be had about we spend on such things. Tories, broadly want to spend less than labour. And especially when there’s been a financial crisis, and the shoulders which bore the the burden of paying for the lovely state spending are now smaller, and fewer in number. There is less money, broadly because Labour taxed all it could, during a boom, and wondered why the money dried up suddenly.

Let’s get some facts straight

  1. The bank bail-out cost the taxpayer almost nothing.
  2. The big increase in the deficit was caused by a sudden and sustained drop in the tax take as banks suddenly became less profitable or loss-making. Such is the scale of the loss, it will be a decade or more before the tax take from financial services returns to pre-crisis levels.
  3. The mechanism by which 2. results in lower tax-take is NOT avoidance.
The toxic, tribal hate-fest shown in that comment thread is based on shaky foundations. The banking and broader financial services industry has lost over 200,000 jobs or something like 20% of its workforce. The idea the Financial services workers have not suffered or learned from the crisis is ridiculous. There is no comfortable parasitic elite, earning off the poor down-trodden worker. It’s been pretty tough for everyone, and pointing at someone’s (imagined) pay packet helps no-one.
And by that I mean “look. They have an iPhone, so they can’t be poor” as well as “he earns £100k, so what does he know about anything”.
5 replies
  1. Jim Brown
    Jim Brown says:

    As a fellow blogger you will know we cannot be responsible for what is written in the comments section of our blogs. The 'debate' was kicked off by you firing the gun with a comment and I responded because I strongly feel there is a need for a decent discussion.

    Our misfortune is that probation is not a soundbite service in a soundbite world. What we do is largely hidden and not well-understood. When our interventions have a beneficial effect, they change lives for the better, save public money and protect the public.

    I think like the police or army, most people would feel that probation is a legitimate role for the state to perform and it should not be farmed out to the commercial sector. The profit motive really should have no place in dealing with these often very disturbing and distressing aspects of human activity.

    What is being proposed really is being designed on the back of a fag packet and will become a dangerous omnishambles.

    As author of my blog, I'm always keen to engage in reasoned debate with anyone interested to know more about what we do and why this is all such a terrible mess.

  2. Malcolm Bracken
    Malcolm Bracken says:

    Jim, thanks for the comment, and I admit I don't know much about probation, as I think I made clear in my comments.

    I generally find you informative and interesting. But like the same invective against Gove's reforms from teachers and police, I am sceptical. Public sector workers are a 9 small 'c' conservative bunch who REALLY don't like change.

    It's interesting that the one public service from whom you find little complaint is the military, because they accept, broadly they (we) are a tool of the Government to achieve policy.

    Police think the state should be run for their convenience, and Teachers and the medical profession seem to think the state exists to support them.

    Ultimately probation can do amazing things and the benefit (crimes not done) is uncountable. But like social work, intervention in chaotic lives can foster dependence, which is ultimately spirit crushing.

    All I can do is pose questions. Because I don't have answers.

  3. jerred seisyll
    jerred seisyll says:

    the bank bail out cost the tax payer £ 123 billion , or in neo liberal speak , almost nothing .

    the global run on banks led to a global recession , as they could now longer finance business investment .

    the u k gdp dropped by 7 . 5 % , which might just have led to an increase in the deficit .

    if the unrestrained profit motive in banking leads to the efficient allocation of credit , why did so much global credit end up in the hands of sub prime borrowers ?

    in mid 2006 , rbs believed the market was under valuing its share price , so it aggressively expanded its structured credit business .

    if this expansion had led to an increase in the rbs share price , would the reward have been bigger bonuses ?

    if so , a clear case of the profit motive causing a huge £ 48 billion bail out [ not zero , in neo liberal speak ]

    yes the golden goose was killed .

    its called trust .

    if bankers can protect this , they can make a steady , almost guaranteed profit .

    but no .

    they pressured ratings agencies , and gamed the agency models .

    again the profit motive .

    how is trust [ the golden goose ] to be restored in banking ?

    the neo liberals , unsurprisingly , have the answer .

    put profit seeking bankers inside the bank of England , so they can " educate " regulators tasked with regulating them .

    perfect .

    then reinforce the point that regulators should not 2nd guess the commercial decisions of private bankers .

    protecting de regulation ideology allows continued Thatcherism [ nhs ] , and is clearly more important to the tories , than the small matter of re building confidence in the private banking system .

    global investors are not stupid .

    they don't trust the un restrained
    profit motive of private bankers .

    and for very good reason .

    so the credit boom financed labour public spending .

    it also created huge losses .

    what is going to allocate these ?

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Your whole blog is passive aggressive. You've said as much yourself. You come out with all the bollocks you write to let off steam. Hypocritical Tory Prick!


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