Sunday, May 20, 2007

Blair Legacy

In little over a month's time, Mr Blair will step down from being UK's Prime Minister, handing over power to Labour's "incoronated" new leader, Mr Brown.

Personally, I am unsure whether to be jubilant for seeing the former go, or appalled to see the latter take over; but that's probably an issue best left for another day.

What I'd like insted to do here would be to publicly express my personal thanks (yes, you've read it correctly: thanks) to Mr Blair, for proving, irrefutably and irrevocably, one of my most fundamental beliefs: one cannot make Public Sector service work by throwing more money at them.

It is, indeed, regrettable that this had to be achieved by wasting several hundred billion pounds - money that we, the taxpayers, could have more efficiently and enjoyably spent on goods and services that matter to us, instead of being poured down the drain chasing "targets" that only matter to policy wonks and to obscure civil servants; but, then again, it was probably inevitable that this had to be done, as, at least once in a generation, this point has to be (expensively) proved again and again, to an uneducated and forgetful voting public.

In fact, a very similar lavish waste of taxpayers' money on irrelevant and apathetic public workers and services had already been undertaken by Labour in the 70's (and elsewhere in the world: the Democrats in the US, various left-wingers across the globe and, surprisingly enough for those who don't know better, by endless centrist governments in Italy) to little or no effect on their efficiency and/or effectiveness.

Thankfully, a brief surge in this kind of waste (and the subsequent abismal display of incompentence and general useleness) was sufficient to wake up voters to reality and swing them back to more sane, market-oriented policies.

Not so this time - partly due to a particularly benign global economic environment, partly due to Mr Blair's quasi-hypnotic power of persuasion, but mostly due to the pathetic state of the Conservative party, it has taken the best part of ten years for the British public to start asking questions about the sanity of showering tens and hundreds of billions on unreformed, inefficient and largely useless public sector services.

I still remember being infuriated, at the time, by all the talk about public sector being "underfunded" - this was mostly from people who failed to realise that the use of "under-" (or "over-," for that matter) requires a standard comparison metric to be meaningful: a service, or business, is under- or over- funded only relative to its stated goals, and a generally accepted industry best practice.

But this was, rather conveniently, lost in election speeches and on the tabloid-reading electorate who lapped up New Labour's New Truth.

Well, all this is history now: we all now know (even Sun readers) that it is not for want of money that public sector is incapable of delivering half-decent services, with anything approaching a minimum level of respect for its users.
All the extra investment has been gobbled up in ill-thought (and worse implemented) titanic IT projects (most of which have either floundered in spectacular fiascos or are running several billions over budget, years behind), equally titanic (and equally over-budget and years late) construction projects and, naturally, in inflated pay rises for public sector workers.

Who have not, as any sane private sector employer would have done, been asked to work harder, longer or, simply, using a bit more common sense: they were just gifted with pay rises, without any regard for individuals' competence and merits.

And as we all in the private sector, running our businesses, well know there is nothing like this to sap the dedication and motivation of the best workers, and reinforce the worst ones' conviction that working hardes is for fools.

Friday, May 04, 2007

God bless the Scots!

It took 10 years' of pathetic display of incompetence, but even in Scotland voters gave a good kicking to Labour's tax & spend policies.

I don't know (and, not being Brit, not much care) as to whether this will eventually lead to independence for Scotland (if this is what the Scottish people ultimately want, so be it) - what it really gives me a great sense of hope that, despite Labour attempts to "drug" the proud people of Scotland with handouts, benefits and pointless welfare initiatives, they got the kicking they so richly deserve.

I now feel a lot better about those £1,500 a year of my taxes (this is true of every taxpayer in England) that are funding some Scot's welfare subsidy - go ahead, mate, enjoy it: you deserved it!

I was in Edinburgh over the Easter weekend and I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the city and the kindness and warmth of the people there - we will definitely be going back with my family, we are all really looking forward to a tour of the great Scottish castles.

And, I suppose, it also helps the fact that I'm in absolute love with the Scottish accent - my only regret is that I'll never be able to fake it ;-)