Saturday, 12 January 2013

Good Officers (Continued...)

One of the illusions that I was able to foster as I grew up, in the 1950s and 60s, was that (on the whole) our MPs knew what it meant to be a 'good officer'.

Many of them had been officers in the services, mostly during WWII - which produced the most politically educated officer class in British history. On the whole, they understood the obligations of their commissions in the forces, and brought that understanding with them into Parliament.

[This is not for a moment to say that everything was fine and dandy - you have only to remember Suez to know that that wasn't the case; but...]

And there was a sense of obligation towards the weakest and poorest in society. Not always sensitive. Not always competent. Often bureaucratic. Often patronising.  But it was there.

I knew that it was there then, and I know that it isn't now.

The question is, can I put a finger on it? I'll set aside the benefit cuts and the efforts to stop benefits altogether for so many people - I'm too deep in those issues to be objective.

And I'll set aside the increasingly shaky future offered by pensions, private and state - with the way they were set up, the way they were mangled by politicians (that means you in particular, Mr. Brown) and asset stripping management, and the way the economy is so fraught, the issue of pensions is just too complex for the thesis I'm trying to put right now.

But consider the following. At this time of increasing financial pressure on the poorest (say 10 million), which started before 2008, the government legalises loan sharks, so that the poorest are paying interest rates of 4,000% plus without meaningful legal protection. How does the endless promotion of loans which would have the lenders in jail in most countries show good officership? It doesn't.

Similarly, the government has not only legalised betting, but has has both directly and implicitly encouraged its spread - while at the same time MPs from Oxfordshire say it must be the fault of the feckless poor/northerners, because there are no betting shops in their constituencies. (I do hope I don't need to explain how unrestrained gambling opportunities will always hit the poorest communities, without any great sin on their part...) How does the endless promotion of gambling on our televisions show good officership? It doesn't.

Pay freezes... but not on those at the top of the pile...

Privatisation - schools, trains, NHS, energy, not because it leads to greater efficiency (there is no scientific evidence of that - efficiency is a matter of management, not of profit: state-owned British Airways and London Transport and privately owned aircraft builders were efficient; state owned coal and privately owned car makers were not, and in each case it was because of management) but for ideological reasons. Fine, except that the fares and fees paid by the poorest across a whole range of fundamental services are going not to the services involved but to the shareholders.

Privatisation hits the poor. Every time.

I may be utterly wrong here, but have you seen any assessment by government of the impact of privatisation on the poorer half of our population? I haven't.

Non jobs, under-employment, minimum wage, NEETS, etc., etc., but MPs are still seriously talking about increasing their own pay by £30,000 pa.

I'm beginning to make my point, but...

I'm doing it again - losing track of my own arguments. I'll come back to this.

Bah Humbug.

Once again, my apologies to those who already have a much deeper understanding than I have demonstrated.

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