Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And now for a rant

There are times when the state of this country is in exasperate even me and I tend to think that things have been much worse fairly frequently in the past.

Item 1: today's public sector strike. Without going into all the details, it is sufficient to say that the public sector was the growth industry in this country throughout the Labour years with unemployment being kept low by the public rather than the private sector hiring and money going on various projects that kept young people especially off the unemployment register. As for pensions, let us not forget the repeated raids on the private pension funds in order to raise money for the public sector.

We can no longer afford this and the screws are slowly, far too slowly, being tightened. So we get strikes about pensions that are above what most people in the private sector can afford. The rest of us have to work and manage as best we can.

Yet the moment this is said one gets people (not many but some) who shriek about the public sector workers saving lives and being poor. Nurses and dinner ladies are favourite examples. Just how many in the public sector save lives? And how many of them get paid as badly as dinner ladies? How many, on the other hand, have very nice, safe (less so these days but still safer than in the private sector) well paid jobs which consist of creating ever more forms to fill in and making life difficult for the rest of us? Oh, and let's not forget those nice safe pensions at the end.

Then there are the teachers and class assistants. Apparently I have to feel for them because they work so hard for so little money. Are these the same people who while pocketing a not inconsiderable salary fail to teach our children to read and write, as well as other subjects?

Item 2: the strange hysteria surrounding some unpleasant and probably unwell woman who produced a truly disgusting racist rant on the Croydon tram. These things do happen: rants and rows are not uncommon on public transport and the woman should have been asked to get off as she was a nuisance. Instead, we got what Brendan O'Neill has called a twenty-first century Twitch Hunt, started by some self-righteous little ... oh never mind ... who decided to film the event and put it on YouTube. The rest can be read here.
Rather than showing that ‘racism in Britain is as rife as ever’, as one person tweeted, the #MyTramExperience Twitch Hunt actually reveals the rise of a different backward trend: the tendency for herds of intolerant Twitterers to act like coppers’ narks, to make a massive deal out of their own shallow moralistic indignation, and to be utterly contemptuous of the idea that the public is more than capable of dealing with isolated incidents of racist abuse when they arise. The hounding of this woman was not a great act of anti-racist activism – it was the virtual equivalent of children chasing the local crazy lady through the streets and shouting ‘Nutter!’ or ‘Cow!’.
Of course, one could argue that this is the curse of the social media, which has many good aspects as well. People seem to lose all sense of proportion in their comments and reactions because it is done from a computer or some other electronic application.

ADDENDUM: The Taxpayers' Alliance has published a helpful guide to public sector pay and pensions. Read it if you have time.


  1. Following your reply to my last comment, some time ago. I was going to write something about your last paragraph here, but thought it might be out of all proportion.

  2. Am surprised that there haven't been any references to the fall of the Roman Empire and the looming dawn of a new dark age...

  3. A recent report on Biased BBC showed the true cost of public pension provision. A trade union group in Northern Ireland (NIPSA) has an arrangement that its employees must be given pensions equal to those of union members in the public sector. The cost of doing this is equivalent to 40% of the salary paid.

    No wonder the comrades are fighting to keep this perk. It used to be accepted that public sector wages were lower than in the private sector but that this was balanced out by greater job security and the pension rights. Now public sector wages are generally higher than the private sector and, of course, inflation-proofed pensions are no longer available in the private sector.

    Annuity rates have gone down sharply and the Government Actuary's Department is reducing the amounts which private pensioners are allowed to take as "draw down" from pension funds which have not been converted into annuity. Many will find that the cash amount they are allowed to take is substantially reduced at their triennial review. . This is on top of the theft of 5% of income per annum by deliberately induced inflation(aka "Quantitative Easing")

    The tax eating classes are making a very luxurious meal of the wealth producers.

  4. Probably would be, Nigel, but I must admit I cannot remember what you refer to.

  5. One must feel sorry for the (poor!) teachers. After all, they have to work from 9 to 3.30 five days a week and only get 4 months holiday a year.