Monday, October 16, 2006

Scorekeepers shall not also bat

There is a widely accepted principle that students don't mark their own exam papers, and that the scorers in sports events don't participate as players. Auditors are supposed to be independent of the firms that they audit. So why should those who derive their income from public funds be allowed to vote on par with those who provide that income?

UK governments of the past 50 years have all declared that you cannot buck markets. This is just another market, but one where the sellers are allowed to set the prices - which is fundamentally flawed and will end in tears. I don't for a moment suppose that this idea will be wildly popular amongst those who become disenfranchised, but once upon a time "public service" meant accepting less financial reward in return for stability of employment. But these days, public servants get more money, enjoy less stress and better pensions than those who pay for them.

One of the trickiest legacies of the Blair Presidency will be the fact that just about half the working population of the UK is now paid from one public purse or another. How is any politician ever going to get elected on a policy of redressing this insane situation? We've already seen how easily the civil service managed to close ranks and brush aside what seemed like perfectly reasonable attempts to put their retirement age in line with the rest of us.

But those who are paid by the state, are allowed to vote for the composition of the state. Why?
The argument generally goes that they are also tax payers. OK, but the tax they pay comes from salaries that are provided by the rest of us. Precious few civil servants have any role in any form of wealth creation; almost universally they dig large holes into which the wealth created by others simply "disappears".

So how about this for a way forward? We should hold a referendum where everyone (for the last time) gets to decide which of the publicly funded occupations should be allowed to vote in elections. Simply listing the vast roll call of who is taking our money will require polling stations to have standby smelling salts, when those who pay for them at last realise just how far the disease has spread.

I would guess that all medical staff in the NHS will be allowed to vote - but not administrators; the police force below the rank of deputy commissioner would send an interesting signal to those for whom political correctness has become more important than catching felons. The whole of the Armed Forces would almost certainly get 100% approval.

But is there a chance in hell that BBC employees, politicians, tax collectors, traffic wardens, or Whitehall civil servants would ever the see the inside of a polling booth ever again?


Andrew Clarke said...

The idea of everyone having the vote would have been laughable to the creators of Democracy.

The Majority Party said...

And in much the same way, if Jesus Christ or Mohammed were out starting their gigs about now, it seems likely they would have addressed the social and satorial mores of the times, not those of 1-2 thousand years previously.