This is what David Cameron’s government told us when they embarked on the austerity programme we are living with and the consequences of which we are just starting to experience. It is not that I believed them, mind, but still one would expect that such blatant nonsense is not going to pass the lips of our Prime Minister without at least some grounding in reality and practice.
Guys please do me a favour and don’t even get me started with the ‘public organisations are inherently inefficient’ stuff. One of my all time ‘favourite’ arguments; up there with ‘all women breastfeed in the jungles of Amazonia, there are no formula fed babies there’! Yeah, right; all women excluding the ones who really can’t crack it and their babies either die or are fed by others. It is pretty similar with the efficiency of the public organisations – we should not forget that efficiency is often very hard to pinpoint in these cases and a true measure of their performance is actually the balance between efficiency and effectiveness.
You want examples? Fine! British universities are increasing their efficiency by teaching courses to 500-600 undergraduates; they are often in two lecture theatres one group watching a video of the lecture. Teaching is very efficient; it is another matter whether any learning occurs under these conditions. And we charge large fees for that! Increasing the number of patients General Practitioners can see by reducing the time they spend with patients increases efficiency; then we shouldn’t be surprised that they have started to misdiagnose serious illness, or that they are not that interested in chronic conditions any longer.
In the case of public services cutting the funding below a certain threshold ensuring their effectiveness is highly detrimental!
And since you have already have figured out that I am so fuming mad you may be wondering why.
I just arrived back from Paris. Now, I really am not very keen on Paris to begin with; in the heat; having to deal with a very large bureaucracy and having messed up my booking so it was much more costly than necessary (and getting it wrong twice, for crying out loud) did nothing to make me feel better about this trip.
The only good thing was that this morning I had a nice run in honour of Tour de France and Tour de Personal Finance – just look at this picture, I took it this morning on my run.
Anyway, tired and looking forward to get back home I land in Manchester, march boldly and purposefully to the UK Border Control and…face a line that stretches halfway through the terminal. It took 45 minutes to get through passport control. And it wasn’t because of a technical fault or bad timing; it was because there were six desks and only three of them were open.
I know, I know….I am back home, showered and resting. But the fact is that with the cuts that are just starting to bite it is going to get so much worse. And how is it good for the economy to make the lives of travellers – for business or pleasure – an absolute and utter misery?
And yes, cuts in public spending do affect front line services; badly!