What is the purpose of government spending?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Paul Waugh has a post that will interest many here in his Evening Standard blog. I have little to add to the substance of his post, except my thought that politicians and journalists should grow up.

However a comment in James Forsyth’s post on the matter in the Coffee House struck me as a place where the the libertarian right should be trying to change the terms of the debate. In discussing health and education budget cuts through efficiency savings he said “…no major politician is prepared to risk the inevitable charge of wanting to shut down hospitals, sack nurses etc”.

The health service’s purpose is not to employ nurses and run hospitals. The health service’s purpose is to treat and care for patients. To do so it employs nurses and doctors, it runs hospitals. Likewise the education department is there to teach children, for which purpose it employs teachers and runs schools.

The left has managed to change the world around. Trades unions representing public-sector workers complain about redundancies regardless of the effect on services and efficiency. The RMT is currently assuming that the London Underground is run on behalf of Transport for London for the benefit of the RMT members. It is not, it is for the benefit of the travelling public.

This is at the core of left-wing state inefficiency. Unfortunately we have had 12 years of a government that is left wing (despite all denials). The government has forced this onto private enterprise, with private companies being run for the benefit of employees above the owners and customers. The way smoking was banned even in private clubs, explicitly to avoid smoke in the workplace, showed the sense of workers’ entitlement felt by the left.

Can we start to take back the terms of debate? Talk about patients and children not nurses and teachers? To answer my original question, surely the purpose of government spending is to run services for the public, not to create employment.

Finally I would like to thank Lord Elvis for kindly allowing me the privilege of posting here.

Update: teachers appear to be unsackable. That is because education is being run for their benefit, not that of pupils.



2 Responses to “What is the purpose of government spending?”
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Excellent post and thanks for joining!

1 July 2009 at 16:09
riddler said...

The terms of the debate always assume cuts will mean fewer nurses/teachers/whatever (however and whoever they are employed by). There needs to be much more emphasis on pruning the ranks of back office clipboard wielders rather than the people who actually do the work.

1 July 2009 at 19:16