Public Spending we could do without – your thoughts

17 06 2009
change-4-life

The government's anti-obesity campaign is a needless waste of our money and an intrusion into our private lives, according to one blog reader Jane Sandeman

The Chancellor Alistair Darling has declined to conduct a public spending review this autumn. This is in line with the government’s unwillingness to face up to the deep debt this country is in. There is no doubt that the best way out of this financial hole, as I have argued before is through innovation and economic growth. However, it is also true that there are whole parts of the state we can do without. There are also areas in which the state could be doing a lot more, particularly in enabling innovation and modernising the infrastructure of the UK.

Since I began this discussion there have been a number of very good proposals and some interesting ones. They range from the traditional left wing targets of Trident and ID cards from Charlie McMenamin to free market based changes from Julian Morris of the Policy Network. There are also a number of  comments which attack the various ways in which the state has intruded into private and family life, particularly from Jane Sandemanand Brid Hehir. James Woudhuysen reminds us that the education and health systems are now funding degrees in quack medicine. If you want to see all these and more in detail then go to the comments section on this blog.

Please feel free to add more suggestions and to comment on those already made. This blog will do its best to cost these suggestions up and put together an alternative public spending review based on the principles of economic growth, scientific and technical progress and personal privacy.

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Public spending we could do without: the civil list

15 06 2009

Public spendingGeorge Osborne has responded to claims that the main parties are failing to own up to their public spending plans by admitting that , apart from abolishing ID cards, they do not actually have any specific plans yet. He admitted that up until now he has ‘tip-toed’ around the issue. In the face of sustained media criticism, including from this blog although one is fain to deny any credit of course, Osborne has now admitted that something will have to be done, he just does not know what yet.

It is likely that the whole process from now will be like this, weak and faint-hearted, reflecting the political weakness of the main parties. Rather than giving a lead , politicians will shilly shally and end up responding to whoever shouts the loudest.  It would be better at this stage to conduct a rational public debate about the state and which parts of it we need to keep.

Let’s start by abolishing subsidies to the royal family

In that spirit I am inviting contributions about which parts of the public sector we could do without. I am not interested really in ‘efficiencies’ or ‘productivity’ as these are almost always euphemisms for sacking people, usually ‘middle management’. Besides applying usual standards of productivity to welfare for example is often a nonsense.

Instead I would like to know which big chunks of the state and the accompanying funding we should get rid of. To get the process started I suggest we abolish the civil list and other subsidies to the royal family. While this figure is in the millions rather than the billions it is a bizarre leftover from the past and should be abolished. Readers may infer an anti-monarchy current here and they would be right. The continuance of the monarchy in the UK is one of the hangovers from the past we could do without.

We should have a presidency instead. At least then if we ended up with a buffoon like Berlusconi it would be because we elected him. Under the UK system we could end up with the unelected buffoon Prince Charles as head of state instead.

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