Friday 15 May 2020

They Seek it Here…

Following the general election of June 2010, it took Belgium a further 589 days to negotiate, agree on and formally recognise and enable a government. It didn’t seem to bother the Belgians greatly. In fact, beginning in December 2018 they seem determined to repeat the process and have only recently installed a caretaker Prime Minister to oversee the coronavirus issue. Given the inability of the diverse and disparate parties to agree, this could become a permanent arrangement, in which case the Belgian people would be justified in wondering what was the point of having elections at all. (Pretty much the ultimate ambition of the EU, as it happens.)

The fact is some roles in society, many of them extremely well paid, perform no useful function and would not be missed. Such roles are often so obscure that most people are unaware they exist at all. A whole plethora of functionaries can be described as rent-seekers. Rent seeking is when somebody seeks remuneration without contributing any productivity and is particularly prevalent in publicly-funded bodies, although many advisors and consultants in the private sector are equally leech-like.

The fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes is well known, but regularly goes unheeded while parasitic charlatans continue to practise their blood-sucking with impunity until they are revealed for the thieves they really are. Thief isn’t too harsh a word, either. The exotic con man who persuades your middle-aged aunt to part with her savings for love is doing exactly the same thing as the life coach who convinces you that you need help to wipe your arse. They may tell themselves that the money was offered freely, but in their hearts they know exactly what they are doing.

But these are relatively small beer and such lone scammers’ careers are often short-lived. In large organisations, however, there are plenty of places to hide and the insertion of rent-seeking blood-suckers has been incorporated directly into the core of the entity’s paradigm. Remember all those ridiculous mission statements that were all the rage not so long ago? People were paid to come up with those. Just as the Iron Law of Bureaucracy decrees that bureaucrats document a company to death, once you have one non-job in place the infection soon spreads and the nonsense quickly follows.

Addicts often have to go cold turkey rather than try and cut down or substitute one dangerous substance for a slightly less dangerous alternative. Many recovered addicts report that they do not miss the thing they once thought they utterly depended upon. And especially in these times when we have had to tighten our belts no doubt most of us have carried out an audit of our lives and discovered all sorts of things we can give up. We all understand buyer’s remorse and sometimes even feel shame for our folly, but in the end we see the funny side and laugh at the stuff we bought, but had no real need for.

We have a resident Face Painter???

The best way of working out if something is necessary is to see if you can get by without it.  If you can, you didn’t need it. If you didn’t even notice it was missing you never needed it. Now, ask yourself, during lockdown did you experience any great craving for any of the following: human rights lawyers, sociologists, race relations advisers, inclusion and diversity officers, customer experience managers and any of the other costly and pointless non-jobs? What, in all honesty, did they bring to the table? Whose lives did they enrich other than their own? I reckon it’s way past time for that audit and high time for us all to have a  bloody good laugh.

1 comment:

  1. Good piece Batsby, I recently tried to complain to my borough council. I was passed from department to department 6 times on the phone until I ended up back where I started at which point I hung up in despair. Don't get me started on HS2, the nearest thing to a modern south sea bubble I have ever seen, a licence to print your own salary if ever I saw one.