As we've blogged many times, even dedicated Small Staters like Tyler recognise there are some things only the state can do. And they'd get done a lot more effectively if the state concentrated on them rather than all that other stuff it's taken on.
Chief among the core functions of course are Law and War. Both of which are currently in scary dysfunction:
We may be spending nearly £5bn pa on prisons, but our justice system is increasingly hobbled by a criminal lack of cells.
As we know, assorted convicts are already getting early release. And now our judges want to cut the sentences they dish out in the first place. All to fit the number of prisoners to the places available.
How on earth did we get here?
Yes, a bunch of pie in the sky politicos decided to ignore their own Home Office projections of convict numbers, and simply stopped building prison places. Simple as that- see this blog, and remind yourself of the killer chart:
Wildly overstretched by two foreign wars, our armed forces are "running on empty", and following a "dangerously unsustainable course".
When we last blogged this, we were shocked to find that despite the wars and the all-too evident overstretch, the government had spent the last decade cutting army manning levels. Worse, for virtually the entire period, actual strength has run way below agreed requirements. Here's the real killer chart:
Now, it's hardly surprising the Army faces recruitment and retention problems- after all, who'd want to get sent to distant Iraq or Afghanistan and risk death and disablement? The answer, as regular BOM readers will know, is largely officer class Ruperts from military families, and squaddies from broken homes (69% of recruits) for whom the Army is often (40% of recruits) the last resort.
But our politicos make the whole problem ten times worse by treating our soldiers like dirt.
Take the latest revelation: most of us had no idea they have to buy their own top-up insurance when they go abroad on combat duty. And it may now cost up to £1,000 time. That just can't be right. We voters elect the clotheads who send them into danger, so we must pick up all the pieces if they get harmed.
Yes, I realise old Rudyard did mention it a few years ago, but the truth is that most of us pampered civvies are only just waking up to the bum deal our soldiers get.
We feel ashamed, for sure. But we should also be angry that our bungling commissars spend £40bn pa on defence, yet are unable to get the money and support to the sharp end where it's needed.