Oh my God – I’m so slow!
Well, some ideas come to me super quickly, and some take a bit longer. My brain is reasonably active and I like to think my thinking is analytical, frequently constructive and associative. I have a relatively low tolerance for foolishness and crass slovenliness in thought. However it was just this morning, two and a half years into the “governance period” of David Cameron and his motley coalition that I saw the blinding obvious reality of his kingpin strategy.
As he unpacked his sweaters upstairs in Number Ten, Downing Street, he was at once wittering on about his previously scoffed at concept of drawing out in Britain a “Big Society”. It was wholly unclear as to what this might actually refer to and many column inches of newsprint were filled with equally vacuous attempts to give it definition. Write his policy for him.
But still he bubbled on – so much would be achieved by BS, so many people already were contributing vastly an, under this new umbrella, even more would be done. Money? Now come on, this is a time of austerity, national debt, deficit, deficit. So after a few more months of increasingly veiled references to the subject it shrank out of view. In the wings anyway hung the Ghost Of The Accursed Margaret whispering “There is NO SUCH THING as Society” in a hoarse, spine chilling rasp.
The all pervading philosophy of the last thirty years has been her crass concept of tunnel vision, ego-centric acquisitionism leaving no place for “archaic” social groupings which “could not withstand the competition”. Personal worth is measured not by any deeper understanding of humanity and our collective, sustainable future but by criteria such as how well you out competed others, how much wealth you gathered, how many underlings you control and how efficiently you get them to “work”.
Yeah, this has been the “process” and the “outcomes” have been measured by arbitrary criteria drawn down from detailed enquiries or consultation reports. Industry, education, health, the military, sports. You name it they’ve all done process. So you’d think that, by today, all systems would be fluently running at peak performance and all functioning to their greatest capacity. That they’re not is so blindingly obvious that I’ll leave you to provide your own exemplars.
Perhaps most clear is the number of people engaged in no, part time or inappropriate employment whilst full time employees complain of work overload. Most industry has died and there remains a rump of mostly retail and retail supply or quasi governmental support services for the NHS, the Education industry, the military money squandering services ( ten years and five billion pounds to produce a few planes which are instantly scrapped – that kinda industry). The health and education industries are full of overworked, stressed, frequently clueless staff, chasing constantly moving goals, like mirages in a desert. If you add in the “Social Services” then the bulk of the work is such as was not required thirty years back when there still existed a society and people were not required to “work” to have any identity in the common parlance. Oh yes, and there’s also retail. My, I don’t think I can bear to go there now. Please don’t make me. No, no please it’d just be too much.
In my county, Conwy, a mere 35% of working age adults attend full time work and 27% are part timers, leaving 38% not in employment. This excludes pensioners. Now, as the state population support systems increasingly fail or are away on training, on holiday or sick leave or maybe have even retired early or possibly have been cut due to Austerity or to pay aforementioned pensions, this unused reserve of potential labour is stared at avariciously. “This can fill in for all our gaps”.
“I mean, hell, they must be bored, not being at work and meeting their obligation to society. We must make them volunteer”. Well, due to Austerity, there’s no money in the pots to pay folk to do these jobs.
How do you make people do work for no reward other than a smile and a pat on the back? You engineer it so’s there’s no money for paid positions but clearly much needs to be done. Then make people feel more and more uncomfortable if they are not seen to be actively part of the system. I’m not really acquainted with the details of this, save hearing all manner of horror story on the news media, but I can feel the strangling pressures exerted by the increasingly broke and tight fisted system.
So yes my penny dropping was seeing David Cameron’s “Big Society” as the exact modern embodiment of Orwell’s Big Brother. Judging, bullying, humiliating, heavy handed and very, very short sighted. Yeah,
Big Society is Watching YOU.