Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Police and Thieves
Except I started to think that maybe I was rather too enamoured with these critters. So instead.....I'll refer you to an article in today's New York Times. I know it's incredible worthy. This columnist suggests that the malaise that affects much of the US is the diverting of resources -more specifically tax payers money - from productive areas of the economy to other non productive ( dead weight) areas. The columnist David Brooks cites the inability of New Jersey to fund the construction of a tunnel to New York. He harks back to an earlier time when money was just as tight but huge infrastructure schemes went ahead. But then public servants didn't tie up revenues like they do today.
His list is pretty depressing: for someone like me. A servant of the state. Because public servants are draining the county dry. In New Jersey state employees' benefits are 41% more valuable than those of the average employee in Fortune 500 companies. Californian police receive pensions which are 90% of their salaries from the age of 50.
I could go on. I don't necessary agree with Mr Brooks analysis, but that's not the point. It's basically the same argument we are hearing in the UK. Our public sector is bloated, overpaid and squeezing the life out of the hard working citizens.
Lord Turner, looking for a job now the Financial Services Agency is to be no more, has recently expanded on his thinking about people doing socially useless jobs ( is he not conflicted?). You may recall that in 2009 he condemned some financial innovation as "socially useless", questioning whether "the world would have been better off without any credit default swaps". Now he has gone further saying that many of the top earners do nothing to increase the wealth of nation. In a series of lectures at the London School of Economics he muses on the value of many of the most highly paid jobs in society. In his view all they do is distribute wealth; they don't create it or improve the quality of life. He thought that divorce lawyers really weren't doing our economy much use. All they did was help move money from one group to another - without generating any additional wealth. Other examples were those in marketing whose job was to persuade you to switch from one product to another.
At at time when a lot of people will be concerned about having a job at all, whether in the public sector or elsewhere, it's good to know that patricians like Lord Adair can take in the broader perspective.
My next blog will be about our rapidly increasing collection of pussies. Something that is hugely socially useless. Promise.