UK Liberty

Oh Polly, you were doing so well

Posted in freedom of information, ID Cards by ukliberty on February 10, 2009

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian (I wouldn’t bother reading the rest of the article, it’s rubbish) saying something sensible:

Does public money get wasted? Of course it does, from failed IT schemes, to wasteful ID cards to ever-escalating Olympic costs. When £500bn is spent a year, some schemes will fail, and some managers will empire-build. Eternal vigilance is needed. 

And then she goes and ruins it all by saying something stupid like,

But at least the spending is pretty transparent, audited and scrutinised, whereas very little can be gleaned from public companies’ minimal accounts on their wastages.

Firstly, you try getting information the government or local authority minds you having.

Secondly, it’s the customer’s choice* when shopping in the private sector as to who gets his money!  If you are bothered about lack of detail in a company’s accounts (I’ll be honest, it’s probably the last thing on my mind when I buy something), then shop somewhere else – just like you might choose not to buy cosmetics that have been tested on animals, or non-kosher or non-halal food, or a popular brand of soft drink because you’ve heard dodgy stuff about their working practices overseas.

But you don’t have a choice about the money being wasted on ridiculously bloated and unjustified public sector IT schemes (e.g. ID cards, again), particularly if you’re in the unlucky section of society that will be volunteered to have them first (e.g. if you are a Manchester airport worker). I don’t know why so many people ‘on the Left’ (there I go with labels again) don’t seem to comprehend / appreciate this.

(note that four fifths of us did not vote for the party that formed the government)

Thirdly, the private sector has an incentive to keep costs (including waste) to a minimum in order to profit and compete…

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