Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Public Service Legacy

A&E waiting times now well under 4 hours

As Blondie Bliar's "government" disintegrates before our very eyes, we taxpayers need to make good and sure we learn the lessons.

First, no matter how plausible the salesman, how white the teeth, or how photogenic the family, nobody knows how to "fix" our public services. There is no magic bullet. One size will never fit all, and messy old trial and error (aka choice and competition) is the only way forward.

Second, pouring in more money not only generates massive waste, it can easily make things even worse. In the NHS, doubling the budget unleashed rampant cost inflation which has triggered a financial crisis now the money’s run out. IIRC that’s exactly what happened last time (spookily, Bliar and Wislon have never been seen together).

Third, top-down targeting simply doesn’t work. The unintended consequences, perverse incentives, and institutionalised gaming that generated the chaos of Soviet tractor production, have combined just as effectively to give us waiting lists to get on waiting lists, and record scores in exams that no longer mean anything. Customers need to make their own choices based not on administrative targets but on overall fitness for purpose- just like they do with cars.

Fourth, politicos really can’t be trusted to run anything. Even with things they have to run- like war- they routinely foul up, leaving Our Boys driving round battlefields in 25 year old Austin Metros. In reality, most politicos don't actually want to run stuff, in the sense of Terry Leahy running Tesco; they want to get elected, strut about on telly, and become stars. It's no accident that so many politicos are failed rock singers and actors.

That’s four lessons to remember.
Now what can we tie a knot in? How about Blondie’s neck?

No comments:

Post a Comment