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Government priorities gone bananas

January 13th, 2012 Posted in Government by

I was reading Professor Philip Booth’s excellent blog post yesterday on David Cameron’s red tape challenge to ministers. Here is an extract that caught my eye.. (emphasis is mine) .

Of course, this is just what we need – more employment regulation. It comes in a long line of announcements and enactments over the last two weeks about executive pay, council house tenancies, the disastrous implementation of the moratorium on employment regulation for small firms, alcohol regulation, the extension of employment rights to temporary workers and the regulation of the scrap metal industry. I am wondering if I have misunderstood the government’s red tape challenge – is the challenge to ministers to produce as much red tape as possible?

And I found myself cheering his point that..

“If somebody is not very clever but good at building networks, why should they be looked down upon more than somebody who is clever but not good at building networks? The hard work that one puts into networking is not obviously less virtuous than the hard work that one puts into developing one’s intelligence. The good luck that comes from being born with a good brain is no more virtuous (indeed it is not virtuous at all) than the good luck that comes from being born with a set of well-networked parents.”

But that is perhaps because I was not a particularly brilliant scholar but had “the gift of the gab” (though sadly no “connections”). Goodness only knows what job I would have ended up with if my application had gone in “blind” rather than me tracking potential bosses down to seedy pubs to pester them into giving me an interview.

Professor Booth’s point is not that dissimilar to a point I made recently. Why is it that Government seems happy to go after highly paid bankers and CEOs on such issues as bonus’/ pay differentials etc whilst ignoring the vast sums earned by Premier League Footballers, pop stars and the like?  After all the pay differential between the average Manchester United fan and their top players is vast – and the penalty for failure? they get transferred to another team quite often for even more money. Why is it, I wonder, that it’s OK to earn fortunes because you are good at kicking a ball about – but not if you happen to be masterful at running a company? (Note this is NOT a demand that the Government starts meddling in sports pay as well.)

But returning to David Cameron’s challenge – maybe it is time for him to reconsider giving a wider challenge to ministers and put it in really simple terms – since they do seem to be having trouble grasping the point.

“If it doesn’t cut costs, improve effeciency or help business get the economy going, then JUST DON’T DO IT – unless there is a bloody good reason why you have to – Dave”

I know ministers like their headlines, feel the need to be seen to be doing something, but really! Most of us are sitting in our homes wondering what the hell this government is up to? What we want are jobs, an economy that gets going, the clearing of our debts. What on earth has alcohol regulation or executive pay got to do with any of those things?

Mark Littlewood has been asked by the Government to help them on red tape. Perhaps the Government needs a similar expert to help them sort out Government priorities – ( I say “expert” all we need is a person with an ounce of common sense and a large red pen). Here is one example concerning my current hobby horse. Why is Andrew Lansley devoting vast amounts of time, money and resource undertaking a consultation on tobacco plain packaging, when we can sit back for six months and wait for the REAL evidence to come from Australia (where plain packaging is about to be introduced). With the time and resource released he could devote that to sorting out the current crisis in the NHS now- and return to plain packs if/when the evidence from down under suggests that it warrants it. It’s just about priorities. Surely?

Enjoy Professor Booth’s musings – definitely worth a read.

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