Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world

SPENDINGMONEY

leaking

For several days now I( have watched politicians competing with each other to promise how much money they will spend (if elected) on various public services.

Nothing is said about the difficulty of getting the practical results hoped for. What happens in a bureaucracy is that somebody is given a huge pot of money but has trouble finding enough people with the skills needed to make things happen on the ground. The people needed may not even exist in the numbers required. But the money has to be spent, for any official who fails to spend his allocated  budget is going to have it cut next year. So, along with promising initiatives, some less promising ones will be commissioned. I have been there. When Margaret Thatcher wanted to make the public services more ‘businesslike’. I found myself running a business simulation for army officers. I did it, of course, because I was offered the opportunity and I wanted the money. Did it really contribute to Margaret’s big objective? Did my players see it as part of a national  movement to change our culture? Doubtful. But some budget-holder was able to argue that a connection did exist.

The process exists in my mind as a huge hosepipe running from a water source through numerous, varied territories to a destination where water is really needed. Some of the territories have no requirement at all, but the hosepipe is lying there and it is leaking heavily all the time. What comes out at the end is a fraction of what the tap yielded at the beginning. The result is a poor reflection of the original intention

A fond memory is observing water distribution in an undeveloped country where sugar was the main crop. Water was released from a store into a channel that ran past the arable fields. At each point there was a small water gate and a real human being walked around deciding which small gate should be opened that day and which had no need. Wastage was minimal.

How nice it would be if the huge amount of money now promised by both major political parties could be effectively used. Some hope!

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