Thursday, February 07, 2013

Danger of The Super Poor, Super Rich Divide for Scotland and Europe

A quite amazing fact is that Angola receives more in international aid than it's top ten mining and oil companies pay in corporate tax to the country. Also they pump out in their sector and over in Congo, more than the UK sector of the North Sea does today. Yet they are poor and conflict ridden.

With the mass redundancies around Europe announced today, and the wave of public sector down sizing about to crash in the coming two quarters in countries including those in the UK, the recession is likely to continue for most ordinary workers outside some key growth industries like petrochemicals and oil field technology.

The real danger here is that society becomes split for ever with the power of politics resting with the rich and international corporates who will proceed in the way Starbucks has and the way in which companies operating in Angola do: government is either in their pockets or powerless to do anything.

Another divide opened in the 1980s in the public sector in the UK, and is starting to widen here in Scandinavia now: the technocrat and public sector management divide in pay, conditions and actually responsibility taking for failure. This is driven by both efficiency drives and in the entire outsourcing and tender management process. For the former this stems from the demand for measurement of the start point of the public sector "mis-performance" - the  perceived inefficiency of health services and all that is not private. However in the UK in the 1980s this lead to the very invisible, beaurocratic inefficiency which resulted in an NHS with more non health line managers than there were beds. Secondly the tender process means that people from outside any health service expertise are employed and bring their own baggage and power attitude to confuse the system by destroying good practices with newer often just as good practice as was in place, but change for the sake of change and showing they weild power. They learn along the way of what the health service needs are, and then become super consultants or are estalted to management with six figure, non health industry matching salaries.

The real hope of the newer new Right, is to completely de-unionise the health industry : for instance there is a concerted campaign to remove union representatives from payed positions in the NHS in the UK because it is seen as socialist waste. However, that in Germany and Scandinavia such partnerships are very often seen as good industrial relations where an employee is dedicated to the workers side, and also another internal watchdog for health and safety should line management wish to cover cracks or hide bad practice from middle and upper management.

In achieving de-unionisation, they will make the health industry at the point of care for those not doctors or with the highest training, an uncompetitive career and the whole tender process will go round in cycles of quality repremands, legal demands for more cash to deliver things not completely  black and white in the provider's contracts and of course bankruptcies and judicial closure of companies conducting illegal practices.

Health and Education are two of the last battle grounds for right wing dogma which is in a fight against  common sense and good, proven practices. even the introduction of best-practice (ISO EN's for example in some routines or medical procedures) because the new Right want new social engineering in the School system and revision to systems without actually first establishing what is working and best practice. The baby gets thrown out with the bathwater, and today there should be a humiliating defeat for the English Tory Party as they admit that scraping a well established system is wasteful change-for-change's-sake and will of course confuse employers who do not feel the need to spend time comparing say a 21 years old's education in 2022 with a 27 year old's. Rather employers in all sectors want more people to do the standard skills, more people to be helped with maths and physics and more people to be highly computer user-ware literate as school leavers.

On this point we lead to another very wasteful part of the dogma of market mechanisms for education, which is upside down: the market is for young people as consumers, and the suppliers are the insittuions with the subsidy being loans supported and underwritten by the Government.  This is across the board in many countries. The problem being that middle class teenagers are pandered too, and want either glamerous careers in media or to just take the easiest route back to the womb of education as a teacher or academic in what they prefer to read at school when they are 15-17. This is a completely upside down approach.

Luckily many countries including the UK have seen the value of apprenticeships in practical skills for various industry and public provision. However for University level, there should really be a slashing of places in those purely academic subjects to allow only the best, most committed students to study say Philosophy or Medieval History. Sure run courses on ethics and history for engineers, taught by academics from these dusty cloisters,  but make them relevant.

Access to education is though now becoming more and more an affluent middle class focus rather than a means of social mobility adding value to individuals and the entire economy. This is happening all over Europe, because Students are too big a money bucket for the rich owners of housing and for companies looking for cheap, non "waster" part time and seasonal employees. So here we have a dilema that talented working class or even subsistence- class offspring cannot afford to go to the best Universities if to a university at all or have to work so much on the side that their studies suffer. At the same time, middle class students shun subjects with ample career prospects for those which few succeed to actually establish themselves in , as mentioned media and academia.

Funnily enough through out Europe there is a consensus or kind of positive moving status quo on one area once staunchly government owned: that is transport. However most transport has in fact been run for a very long time along the lines of either private sector or indeed the military ( or both if you take that much of management practice and hierarchy in English institutions was quite closely evolved from how army and empire were run) so in a way it was an easy privatisation for Governments while a hard take over for the private sector: "institutional memory" and the usually very well established safety routines have meant the private sector have struggled to make glamerous city margins, while also outright failing on many capital projects or maintenance ( site: channel tunnel, network rail, Norwegian privatised rail maintenance fiasco)

It all really comes down to the aim to bring wages down and get people to work longer hours for the same pay, while the rich, no...correction...such that the rich and bourgeoisie can get richer.

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