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January 14, 2013

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Colum McCaffery

This argument is so plausible you have to wonder why it isn't universally accepted. I think there are two reasons. Firstly, it faces those who have a religious belief in a minimal state. Secondly and more importantly, most of those who demand cuts in the public service do so not because they find your argument unconvincing but because they have views on conditions and pay in the public srvice. Now, most of those views are possibly prompted and certainly nurtured by media lies but they are the main reason your argument faces opposition.

CMK

Micheal, another humane piece that deserves the widest possible dissemination. One thing that struck me about the Croke Park shadow boxing was the whole idea of 'more hours for the same pay'. Hopefully, the trade union negotitators have no truck with this (though I suspect they will). One would have thought that it would a non-negotitable stance that if there is a demand that a workforce work more hours, that's an implicit acknowledgement that they are currently working at or above their limits and the best way to resolve this is to hire more staff! A government slap bang in the middle of an unemployment catastrophe should surely be looking to take people of the dole to do work it itself knows is there to be done; not trying to sweat a few extra hours out of existing staff like some 1830's Lancashire mill owner. It should be a no-brainer, but it's not and we're likely to have public sector workers working hours that could be done by tens of thousands currently on the dole. Marx's aphorism 'history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce' have rarely been more apposite.

Michael Taft

Colum - you are correct. Facts and some people's worldviews rarely mix. However, there may be another category - one that doesn't go along with downsizing but unable to critique to provide a proper critique, never mind an alternative.

CMK - yes, increasing hours is another form of reducing employment. You're right - increasing employment would appear to be the best way forward, but there are, as Colum pointed out above, people who want to downsize. And there's people who don't know how to think their way through. If there is unproductive activity in the public sector, one can reduce that and increase the productive sectors. But we are far away from that debate.

Hugh  Sheehy

Of course, if we cut spending in the existing public sector there'd be some money to stimulate jobs in the rest of the economy. It'd have an even bigger impact on jobs.

Let's see the unions propose that.

Meantime, proposals to maintain supra-normal pay in the public sector are just naked self interest - and hang the consequences for anyone else.

Ciaran

Hugh,

Don't you think that if jobs could be stimulated by public sector cuts, we would have seen evidence for that by now? In this or any country? At some point in history?

Say what you like about the unions' grasp of economics, but I'm glad to say they wouldn't be likely to propose this idea.

Daren

The fact is that there is a massive management overhang in areas of the public service. The HSE is a particular offender here. There is also an administrative overhang, again the HSE is a major offender.

The conflating of "the public sector needs trimming" with "sack all the nurses" needs to stop. There genuinely needs to be a refocusing of the available resources towards the actual front-line.

I also don't see what's objectionable about being able to make non-performers redundant. It's absurdly difficult at the moment to fire people even despite shocking attendance records and poor working levels.

I have two other brief points.
1. Areas of the public service take their performance goals as "maximums - do not do any more than this" (I have experienced this personally). This attitude must stop, because it's contagious (and indeed, exceeding these targets can be met with extreme hostility).

2. Union groups representing both managers and those they manage is an inherent conflict of interest and should be barred.

Tomboktu

You're using ESRI projections, not NERI ones, presumably because that is what is available to you.

A few years ago when I heard that Congress was getting extra economists, I cheered. Then when I heard it wasn't quite that, but rather Congress and member unions were funding an independent economic think-tank, I groaned. We need NERI analyses and back-up, in the thick of the fight, not another tink tank.

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