United Kingdom

How About Efficiencyarchy in the U.K.?

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The Conservative Party is expected to take power in the United Queendom Kingdom this May, and we're starting to get glimpses of Tory leader David Cameron's plan to reinvent government.

David Cameron counts all the pounds he plans to save.

The Guardian explains how the British red team plans to restore fiscal discipline and "protect frontline public services" by reducing waste:

Philip Hammond, the shadow chief secretary, said "high-performing public sector businesses" such as the Passport Agency would be allowed to bid for work from other government departments where its proven IT skills were essential.

But there will be carrots as well as sticks for public sector managers. Whereas past governments have often confiscated gains made by efficient public bodies, a David Cameron government would provide incentives for innovation by allowing them to keep the bulk of what they saved, Hammond said.

Central to the Tory strategy is the calculation that Labour has wasted £60bn during two successive public spending sprees – neither connected with the global recession – by failing to achieve the same productivity gains as the private sector managed in the decade after 1997.

Reuters notes that Hammond uses phrases that roughly translates into American as best practices and good to great:

On Friday, Hammond will say that if productivity growth in the public sector had kept pace with the private sector over a decade of Labour rule between 1997 and 2007, the state could have saved some 60 billion pounds.

"If efficiency gain is going to yield year-on-year savings and become a central part of what public sector bodies do, it has to become embedded within them, not imposed upon them." according to extracts of his speech.

The efficiency comparison is apt given Cameron's professed identification with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger also came into office promising greater effiency, waste reduction, and so on. He went on to grow Golden State spending by 40 percent over five years. Dig Reason's Adam Summers giving celebrity rehab to the Spendinator.

Cameron's preference for compromise with big government did not originate with Cameron. The Thatcher and the Reagan revolutions were both founded on such a compromise, and this is one of the main reasons that the U.K. now faces a staggering deficit and the United States a paralyzing one. However you define the common nature of British and American governance (i.e., representative government in the English common law tradition), in both countries there is a self-described small-government party that is clearly in favor of big government (and I believe Cameron's definition of "frontline public services" includes National Health).

This creates a utilitarian problem. California's example argues that if you come into office promising more efficient government that will deliver the same level of service, you will leave office with a much larger government. Even a government purged of waste fraud and abuse will continue to grow itself.

It also creates a problem of principle. The Guardian says, "Tories want prisons, schools, civil servants and hospitals to raise their game or risk losing results-based funding." Who wants the government to raise its game? To the extent that living under the U.S. government is still preferable to living under any other government, it's preferable for all those areas where the government is least efficient: that it is hard to make new laws, that the IRS does not make every possible effort to seize your money (unless you're the star of a classic libertarian film and they decide to make an example of you), that the courts have enough belief in the superstition of individual rights to tie up the will of the majority for years. These are conservative ideas, rooted in the fallen nature of the world, the non-perfectibility of human beings and the need to preserve free will as the precursor to true salvation.

So what does the conservative compromise with big government get you, except a promise of public savings that has never been fulfilled in history?

Also, is "raise your game" a British or American idiom? With even decent Americans talking about the "run-up" to this and the "spot on" nature of that, I can't tell anymore. Cheerio!

NEXT: A Health Care Fix For the 1950s!

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  1. Q: I hear you buried your country.

    A: Ah, yes. Had to. Dead, you know.

  2. As a lifelong Californian, I’ve sometimes heard myself say “Bloody hell” in moments of frustration.

  3. California’s example argues that if you come into office promising more efficient government that will deliver the same level of service, you will leave office with a much larger government.

    The reason is the moral hazard that comes with the rational expectation of more dough coming in through the purported savings – people tend to overspend if their spending habits are not changed.

    If I finish paying down a credit card and thus save myself from issuing $50.00 a month, my wife will immediately convert that saving into a $60.00 expenditure, because money burns her hands.

    Government has a lot of hands that are burned by money.

    1. “My wife”, eh? Nancy, are you serious?

      1. I fuck everyone. Hard.

      2. Hey, she calls her hubby “wife”. That’s how she is.

  4. On Friday, Hammond will say that if productivity growth in the public sector had kept pace with the private sector over a decade of Labour rule between 1997 and 2007, the state could have saved some 60 billion pounds.

    How can he know that? How do you measure productivity in the Public Sector, without a profit/loss test? He’s living in a dreamland of fatal conceit.

    1. It may be hard to understand how efficiency can be measured in the absence of profit, but experience has taught me that, paradoxically, gov’t employment — or at least hiring decisions — is more efficient than private sector employment.

      As a friend has impressed on me recently, these days especially, nobody wants to hire a stranger if they can avoid it. And in the private sector, they can avoid it. People hire according to who they know, not what they know. Employers overvalue trust. And in large private sector organiz’ns, jobs have little to do with productivity; rather, they’re sinecures.

      Gov’t cannot avoid hiring strangers, so they use impersonal hiring rules that depend on what you know, not who. I really wish now I’d gone into gov’t work years ago. I’ve been desperate for jobs lately, and underemployed even when I wasn’t. The best employment experience I’ve had lately was with the US Census Bureau. I took a test and was placed in a high paying, albeit temporary, position according to my results. And the work was done so efficiently that (to my consternation) we finished the job in half the time that was originally allocated.

      One might think a systemic factor making gov’t employment bad for society relative to private employment would be a tendency for gov’t employees to lobby gov’t for even better sinecures and other favors for gov’t employees in gen’l. Turns out that’s true only where they’re unionized, and then only because they gotta. Otherwise there’s no solidarity among gov’t employees; they care about their own job and fuck everybody else’s. In fact, gov’t employees can be some of the most anarchistic people around.

  5. Climategate claims its first big political scalp

    Australian conservatives have shown the way by dumping the party leader who was in favour of massive carbon taxes and replacing him with one who stated last month that AGW is “crap.”

    This makes Malcolm Turnbull, the suddenly-ex-leader of Australia’s Liberal party, the first major political victim of the Climategate furore. And his replacement Tony Abbott, the first politician to reap the benefits of the world’s growing scepticism towards ManBearPig. Of the three candidates, he was the only one committed to delaying the Australian government’s proposed Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/n…..arbon-tax/

    1. Wow. So the thinly-held gossamer structure that was AGW is finally collapsing.

      1. It’s gettin’ good!

        Maybe we should follow suit and fire Tony.

        1. You can’t fire a stray dog, only kick him until he stops shitting in your yard.

          1. Claiming Turnbull was a victim of Climategate is only possible if you totally ignore the messy facts of Australian politics.

            His party is a first-term Opposition. Traditionally first-term Oppositions are very unstable – lots of bloodletting, churning of leaders etc. That’s because they are not in power anymore and thus have no great incentive to impose (and accept) party discipline. In Australia all but one Federal Government has had at least two terms, because the Opposition is so busy ripping itself apart.

            So Turnbull was riding the tiger anyway as a leader of a first-term Opposition. Adding to his sorrows was his management style, which was seen as autocratic and arrogant. For example, he pretty much declared the Opposition would support the CPRS package without fully canvassing views in the party room.

            So, there’s a contentious issue, a contentious policy response, yet another show of arrogance from your leader and pre-Christmas tetchiness, and you are pretty much asking for a leadership spill. It could be seen as a victory for one set of views on climate change, but climate change was really just a trigger for an inevitable challenge. Abbott (aka the Mad Monk) might take the hardest line on CPRS, but he won by one vote, which is scarcely a ringing endorsement of anything – including his ability to lead the party.

  6. The Guardian explains how the British red team plans to restore fiscal discipline

    The British red team is known as the Labour Party. Tories are blue.

  7. “Raise your game” is British. In Amurrikah, it’s “Step your game up.”

    1. The word binsman instead of garbage man is rubbish.

      1. Oh bollocks, I left my fags in the boot of my lorry. Bugger all! Could you spare one? It’s how I keep from getting peckish. I’ll buy you a drink at the pub tonight when we’re getting pissed. Cheers.

        1. I’ll buy you a drink at the pub

          That’s “stand you a drink…”

          1. The Corpse Reviver

            1 part Lillet Blanc
            1 part gin
            1 part triple sec
            1 part fresh lemon juice

            Shake with ice and strain.

          2. and it’s “pint” not “drink.”

            1. And it’s “shout” you a pint.

              1. Takes at least a quart before I’m shouting.

          3. That’s “stand you a drink…”

            I really should have said “stand you a pint“.

            1. OED

              61. a. colloq. to stand one’s hand (to), to stand shot (to), rarely to stand the shot: to meet the expenses, pay the bill (for all): see SHOT n.1 23. Similarly to stand Sam, treat: see SAM n.1 1, TREAT n.1 4d.
              1821 [see SHOT n.1 23]. 1823-1887 [see SAM n.1 1]. 1837-1885 [see TREAT n.1 4d]. 1883 J. PURVES in Contemp. Rev. Sept. 356 At the one year’s end and the beginning of the other, he must stand his hand like the rest. 1890 Sat. Rev. 3 May 61/2 Mr. Lowther..requested that his speech might be published..offering to take the consequences and stand the shot. 1892 H. NISBET Bushranger’s Sweetheart viii. 58, I used to see her..’standing her hand’ liberally to all who happened to be in the bar.

              b. To bear the expense of, make a present of, pay for (a treat); to put up or make a present of (a sum of money), esp. as part of a larger amount sought. Const. to or dative of the recipient. colloq.
              1835 DICKENS Sk. Boz, Dancing Academy, Mr. Augustus Cooper..’stood’ considerable quantities of spirits-and-water. 1840 THACKERAY Shabby-genteel Story ii, I’ll stand glasses round to his jolly good health! 1844 DICKENS Let. 22 July (1977) IV. 157 If you should decide to come, I will very gladly stand ?10 of this Thirty. 1848 THACKERAY Van. Fair xiii, I know my father will stand something handsome. 1890 Lippincott’s Mag. May 633 I’ll stand you a dinner. 1891 Sat. Rev. 18 Apr. 482/1 They..stood drinks promiscuously to all-comers. 1914 G. B. SHAW Fanny’s First Play I. 177, I cant pay the fine and get him out; but if youll stand 3 pounds I’ll stand one; and thatll do it. 1970 G. F. NEWMAN Sir, you Bastard viii. 214 Friends able to stand five-thousand pounds surety for his bail.

              c. With indirect obj. only = to stand drink for (a person or persons). colloq.
              1894 M. DYAN All in Man’s Keeping (1899) 173 Sit down here, and I’ll stand you both.

      2. That’s a funny name. I’d have called him a chuzwuzza.

  8. I’m American and this is the first time I’ve ever heard “step your game up.”

    1. Clearly you are not American enough.

  9. David Cameron’s plan to reinvent government.

    *sigh*

    1. What’s the matter Paul? Every generation wants to reinvent the rectal probe.

  10. And here is a thing I will tell you, that two swinging foxes have the hots-on for us, and are coming here tonight to let us hold on to their big American breasts!

  11. Raise your game = old school british/commenwealth.

    Up your game = antipodean

    1. I thought it was “up your game” and originally American, but teh googles suggest otherwise.

  12. Go on the game: British for entering the oldest profession.

  13. My mother’s British, so a typical conversation goes a little somethin’ like this:

    I pulled my motor up to the curb, rung up the clark and told him there was a bit of a kerfuffle, and could we please put it straight before there’s a bloody row.

    1. Oh yeah, “put a few coppers in the box, rung up the clark”… anyway, you get the idea.

      1. I pulled my motor up to the curb kerb

        FTFY

  14. How will Cameron reinvent government now that Britain has become a province of the European domininion?

    1. He won’t. It’s something politicians say to get elected. Remember how Al Gore was going to reinvent government?

  15. Efficiencyarchy in the U.K.

    I believe that is Miley Cyrus’ next single.

    1. I was thinking a John Cougar Mellencamp comeback hit.

      1. That’s because you’re old.

        1. It sure as hell isn’t because I’d like to hear either song.

      2. I never left. The audience did.

    2. It’s times like this when you really miss having Avril Lavinge as a punching bag.

      1. She died?

        1. No, but her absence from the front-line of celebrity makes her punchline value low.

          It leaves you vulnerable to the “2003 called, it wants it’s reference back.”

          And that in itself is a busted out joke, so a recursive “that’s and old joke” war could erupt, throwing the board into chaos.

          1. Hey NutraSweet, 2003 called and wants its reference back. Oh, and you used “it’s”, you illiterate buffoon.

            1. Careful with that one Epi, it’s an antique.

              1. He’d be happy to have it go off in his face, if you know what I mean.

            2. Shut up, you assdangler.

              1. Don’t project your fetishes onto me.

          2. Sug, the simple solution is to get on board with the new crop of annoying pop stars. Unfortunately, T. Swift and Miley don’t have the added bonus of being Canadian.

            1. Can we use the Jonas Brothers as multiple punching bags?

              1. You might want to keep your Jonas Bros. fantasies to yourself. They’re saving it for Jesus, and you’d have to lose some weight to get that lean, Jesus-on-the-cross look.

                1. Jesus had, like, the best abs. He had the right idea. Hey, he knew: no pain, no gain.

                  1. He used the Pilates weight-loss program.

            2. Cyrus is unabashedly fake and Swift can at least appear to be genuine.

              Lavinge was so useful in that she represented (up to that point) the final turd on the grave of punk.

          3. It leaves you vulnerable to the “2003 called, it wants it’s reference back.”

            But then you just have to say “The jerk store called, and they’re out of you!”

            1. That is the nuclear option of old jokes.

              1. And I am OUTTA HERE

      2. I would so fuck that chick.

        1. In a Steve Smith way.

  16. To the extent that living under the U.S. government is still preferable to living under any other government, it’s preferable for all those areas where the government is least efficient:

    Not really. The US is actually more efficient at collecting taxes than the Italian or Russian governments. “Efficiency” is smoke and mirrors anyway. Good government is limited and predictable. The rules are made clear, and enforced impartially by a transparent legal system. This used to be one of the UK’s greatest accomplishments.

    1. Good government is limited and predictable. The rules are made clear, and enforced impartially by a transparent legal system.

      One of the points progressives never get about their byzantine regulation schemes. I doubt most of them have any idea what the regulations even are, yet they still demand more of them.

  17. I doubt most of them have any idea what the regulations even are, yet they still demand more of them.

    They don’t have to obey them, why should they care what they are?

  18. How About Efficiencyarchy in the U.K.?

    I think i liked the original better.

    1. Maybe Dave Mustaine can do a version.

  19. ‘Jesus had, like, the best abs. He had the right idea. Hey, he knew: no pain, no gain.’

    He was the first to use the Pilates weight-loss program.

  20. I believe the appropriate song is “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

  21. He was the first to use the Pilates weight-loss program.

    Oh, terrible!

    1. Some kind of wonderful…

  22. I heard Meg Whitman make the same arguments about a “more efficient government” in a radio interview a month ago. Looks like she is using the Arnold & Cameron playbook.

    I foresee a federal bailout in California’s future- Much to my rage.

  23. Anyone experience anything about the easy google profit kit? I discovered a lot of advertisements around it. I also found a site that is supposedly a review of the program, but the whole thing seems kind of sketchy to me. However, the cost is low so I’m going to go ahead and try it out, unless any of you have experience with this system first hand

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

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