Friday, 7 July 2017

misdirection and dismemberment


That new Polly Toynbee/David Walker book about the state we're in makes for interesting reading.

I'd add an extra dynamic now, whilst the conjuror's art of misdirection is being applied alongside a tory ideology.

The misdirection comes from the lies of the Referendum campaign and simplified bullet points of the recent election. Now that a temporary parliament has been formed, we can expect the main stories (notwithstanding recent major tragedies and incidents) to be about the Brussels shenanigans.

Behind it all we have a few statistics indicative of the ideologue-led agendas running quietly behind the scenes. We could regard the UK as a system, which runs with a state budget of around £772 billion over a year. It is currently spending about £56bn more than it raises.

It was this overspending figure that Osborne was trying to reduce to zero and then to start to pay back the national debt. The excuse was about prior overspends, but the real reason for a temporary hike of the figure to £156 bn was the bail-out of the banks after their disgraceful and largely unpunished casino antics.

Osborne wouldn't liken the UK debt to a household borrowing for a house. But there's a clear point to be made around a mortgage. You don't have to pay it all back in one go and sometimes the cost of money is actually quite reasonable. Those with a doctrinal dismemberment agenda can step around this thinking to one of just reduction of the size of the state.

I can think of people like Osborne/Oliver Letwin/Cameron/Gove who are all a part of this small state agenda. Written into their thinking is the Tory target to reduce the state from its 1997 size of 45% past its current 39% down to 36% by 2021. Easy headlines for at least a few of the (increasingly outdated) newspapers. Much more about 'me now' taxation rather than 'we together' as a continuum.

I've just watched that docudrama about the tawdry Theresa vs Boris inner circle boys' club voting for their leader last year. May was portrayed as a surprisingly opinionated, directive person, compared with what we've seen in the few rare glimpses of her when not running to a robotic script.

If she is as aware as portrayed, then she'd be another one to add to that 'small state' grouping.

Where it all becomes damaging is that the headlines of state attack are so easy to write. Bloated mandarin departments? Why, yes, Minister, etc.

So Brexit generates the chance to rewrite everything, and it is provided to the henchos of the government departments, because those actual departments lack resource, skill, scale or whatever. So in step the parastatal organisations from the Big Four and beyond. Lobbied-up friends of the Cabinet. They get paid whatever happens and can create shedloads of interns to red-ink everything. Hoteliers at the gold rush.

It becomes activity rather than results and is a large outcome from the front-line negotiations.

A couple more numbers. The UK GDP is around £1,943 bn, with the total national debt at £1,638 bn so we can see that currently the UK runs at 84% National Debt as percentage of GDP. The population continues to rise, and at 65.8 million in late 2016, it has added 7.6 million over the last 20 years.

The question becomes whether a larger state needs more investment to run properly? I'd say it does. That's another part of the misdirection of the citizens by politicians. As well as using the parastatals to analyse and organise for the government departments, increasingly these helpers also run and award the contacts for the stuff that needs to get done.

This is further diffusion of the State into private companies. Who runs the systems that the biggest departments use? Welfare? Health? even parts of the tax system?

Get closer to the public's awareness and spot other organisations that became private. BT. Utilities. Railways. Most of London's transport. Some of these haven't gone too well.

There's a big element of fat cattery around many of these systems. They're also increasingly run by offshore interests.

Quick examples of de-stating include Arriva (German Deutsche Bahn) buses and trains nationwide, non emergency ambulances. Arvarto (German) local taxation and welfare, waste management. NHS already uses VirginCare and Care UK as well as stock market listed multinationals including UnitedHealth Group, Acadia Healthcare, Circle, Capita and Interserve.

UK Power Networks is owned by Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings,40%, Power Assets Holdings (Hong Kong), 40%, and The Li Ka Shing Foundation, 20%. That's only one of the UK power networks, but includes what was once known as the London Electricity Board, the Eastern Electricity Board and the South Eastern Electricity Board.

The unbundling occurs everywhere and the remaining big targeted sections of the pie chart comprise Pensions, Welfare, Education and Health.

It brings in the next point, which is euphemistically referred to as 'externalities'. That's the stuff that operates alongside the service or product and becomes an area for cold-hearted spreadsheet action. Examples include training, pension plans, pollution management, social costs of closures.

So it'll be time to watch the left hand whilst the right hand is waving around, although unfortunately recent evidence suggests it is easier to understand the illusion.

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