In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The Lesson of The Million Dollar Biro

Let me tell you a little story about the space race, when the competition between the USA and Soviet Block was at its height. It was discovered that the normal biro would not work in “zero G”.

Therefore the USA, as is its won’t, spent vast sums of money (several million dollars) on research to develop a pen that would work in “zero G”. Success, they achieved their objective; and could proudly boast that they had beaten the Soviets, in this most important of technical breakthroughs.

However, over in Moscow the wily old guardians of Lenin’s legacy afforded themselves a wry smile. They had also managed to solve the problem, at zero cost in fact. The solution, well simple really; they used pencils in space.

The moral from this story is that, throwing money at something is not always the best way to resolve a problem.

I would ask that Tony Blair (UK Prime Minister, at the time that this article is being written) and his Chancellor (Gordon Brown) heed the above, and revise downwards their current multi billion pound “spending splurge” on public services.

This spending, which was announced with fanfares and the usual hubris of the government spin machine in a previous budget, is not achieving the stated aim of improving public services.

Instead it is creating a vast layer of bureaucracy, and strange titled meaningless jobs, as government departments struggle to spend what they are given within each fiscal year.

Naturally, the poor tax payer is required to foot the bill for this ill thought out largess. There have, in fact, been some 60 tax rises since labour took power in 1997.

My message to the Blair and chums is this; governments are not efficient allocators of resources, do us all a favour and cut back your spending and taxation plans.

This will allow the people at the “sharp end”, ie we the voters, more resources with which to better manage and improve our lives.

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