The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

I can be stunned and stirred at the same time. Yes, I can. This is something that has been simmering under my hat for a while now, but a recent spate of data releases has finally caused my baffled fury to boil over.

Of what speak I? Why, Albion's perfidious government. In what has to be the grandest gerrymandering achievement ever, Labour has managed to create a vast class of people so utterly beholden to them that it is unimaginable for these folks to vote for anyone else. And who are these sheep? Why, public servants in all their disguises.

It is absolutely breath-taking. During the 10-odd years of Britain's economic boom, a period that our man Gordon Brown attributed entirely to his own skill (further embellished by his '
no more boom and bust' speeches), which part of the workforce added more jobs? You guessed it - the public sector. Between 1998 and 2007, of the 1.2 million jobs added in urban UK, two-thirds (two-thirds!) were in some bureaucracy or the other. In some parts of the UK, state employees are 70% of the workforce. We might as well be living in the USSR.

And what sorts of jobs are these? Not all necessary ones, of course, like teachers or police or nurses. Oh no. There were new metrics established that determined the efficacy of teachers and nurses and policemen. Who would monitor these metrics? The newly employed 'managers', of course. And watchers-to-watch-watchers in some surreal exponential series of artificial jobs.

To attract suitable talent from the private sector, massive salaries were offered to such worthies as heads of the various municipal authorities. Many of them were
paid more than the Prime Minister, even.

Meanwhile, to fund all these pen-pushers and layabouts and non-jobs, the Treasury under Labour issued billions of sterling in debt, so that when they really should have been paying down the deficit, they instead caused it to swell to gargantuan proportions. When the crash occurred in 2007-2008, obviously the fiscal situation then took a further plunge into the abyss.

Of course, the joke, dismal as it is, doesn't end there. It turns out that these leeches on the body politic actually - in the median -
earn more (£539 per week) than the private sector employee (£465).

In what universe is this sustainable? The private sector pays for most of this largesse in the form of tax. The state has continued to grow and grow. This makes eminent sense during a recession. But it made no sense at all during the years of growth.

Meanwhile, there are still more benefits to a public sector job. No matter what you earn, you are guaranteed a nice final-salary pension when you retire. (
Civil servants who joined after 2007 don't have the perk, it appears.) Why NHS consultants many of whom earn more than £100,000 need a guaranteed pension is anybody's guess. Especially when final-salary pensions in the private sector are mere whispers, tales told of legendary times. The argument for defined benefit pensions for public servants used to be that they earned so much less than the private sector jobbie that this was fair recompense in their old age. We have seen that this is a staggering lie.

I can't blame the public servant, of course. If I got a job that assured me of a nice salary and a rollicking pension, security, in fact, for the rest of my life, I might jump at it. Particularly if I lived in some dismal part of the Midlands, say, where, for entertainment, all I could do was throw stones at passing trains. I lay the blame entirely on Labour, even as I doff my hat to their chutzpah. They have fucked the United Kingdom well and proper, and left its people so in thrall to them that I cannot see them ever bowing out of power.

Someone please tell me I'm wrong, and there's a way out of this hellish morass.


David said...

Most civil servants are low paid workers, with avergae pension provision. Do you have a right-wing agenda? It was actually the last Tory government that started to treat top civil servants like 'chief execs' with the financial packages that go with this.

Still, an interesting blog.

Vote Lib Dem: the only chance for real electoral reform.

Fëanor said...

David: thanks for stopping by and your comments. I'm interested to know how you arrived at this blog-post?

I have neither a left-wing nor a right-wing agenda. My gripe is with guaranteed pensions for people who earn enough to pay higher-rate tax. These guys already out-earn the rest of the country! The Tories may have started to pay top dollar to the upper echelons of the bureaucracy, but Labour continued the lunacy of assuring them top pensions as well (note that the NHS doctors managed to negotiate a particularly sweet deal for themselves, both salary-wise and pension-wise). And Labour vastly increased the bureaucracy at the same time. As for the usual trope that guaranteed pensions are a recompense for lower earnings - this is clearly nonsense in view of the fact that the median public servant earns more than the median private sector type.

Check this out for an illustration of the pension burden on tax-payers. 75% of the annual £20billion is borne by tax-payers. How is this sustainable, especially in view of the massive fiscal deficit that we face?

David said...

I'm utterly frustrated by this Gov, but (like many) i dont think that the Tories have any answers.

As you intimate, newer civil servants dont have anything like the same pension provisions that older ones did/do. A decent pension should be a right for all, surely? Yes, there are some very well paid public workers, but, its a fairly small number.

Moreover, you talk of the 'fact' that the median public servant earns more than the median private sector type. I'd like to see the evidence of this, because i suspect the opposite to be true. Do you have any idea how badly paid jnior civil servants are!?

I think, in general, the discourse on pensions has become very distorted: all we hear in the media (all of whom have very substantial pensions btw) is that pub sector pensions are bloated. No, for most public sector workers they are very average (which is i would say, the least that a civilised society should provide). Private sector workers need to be less supine in passively accepting their own pensions being taken away, and less susceptible to the corporate brain-washing that states that these can no longer be afforded.

The reality is that reasonable pensions can be afforded for all. Its just that, as a society, we fools prefer to concentrate the resources of this wealthy country into the hands on an elite.

Fëanor said...

I linked in the blog to the govt statistics office report that stated the fact of median salaries. Please also take a look at this link. Notice again that I said 'median', not 'average', the latter being quite easily skewed by large salaries to top people.

As for junior civil servants, here's a link to their salaries. I don't grudge them their pensions (they are basic rate taxpayers; my complaint is against the upper taxpayers), but given that they earn more than equivalent private sector types who get no guaranteed pensions (see graph in the same link), I don't see how they can hold the moral high ground.

David said...

Ok, ive read the link now...

I dont particularly wish to defend top civil servants (in fact having known some, i cant stand 'em)

However, you seem to be implying (as many do) that we should be dragging these civil servants down to the level of the private sector: what about, instead, a discourse that supports increasing pay/pensions for the very many badly paid private sector workers?

'Bloated' public sector pensions( a mantra in the media)are a useful scapegoat to distract the masses from the real causes of their problems: the corporate class that really rules the UK and screws the workers as much as it can.

Fëanor said...

I suspect that the great days of sunny retirement are well behind us now. My generation, which will retire in about 20-odd years, will have no benefits at all. Our (private) pension funds, invested in the stock market, will not grow enough to support us. As for stat funded support for everyone - there simply aren't enough new people joining the workforce to pay taxes to support the retirees. Private sector pension funds are broke and have no succour in sight. Public sector pensions are underfunded, but will most likely be topped up with tax money. Unless everyone agrees to postpone retirement till their seventies, or large-scale immigration is encouraged (with, hopefully, large-scale job creation), I fear there is no way out of this morass.

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