Article 35

Further Media Recognition Of The Need For Change, 

In a Daily Telegraph article of 27/11/20, entitled ‘If we don’t reform the state now, we never will’ and subtitled ‘Throwing ever greater quantities of money at an unreformed public sector is inefficient and unfair’, Jeremy Warner quotes Winston Churchill as saying ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ and by way of introducing his analysis of the current crisis he observes that ‘if ever there was a time to press the button on long overdue and much needed institutional reform of our bloated public sector – which despite the Herculean efforts of NHS and other essential public sector workers, Covid-19 has found wanting on multiple different levels – it is now’. Again, he observes that ‘crises normally and naturally give rise to radical thought and solutions’;  that ‘perhaps the biggest curiosity of this one is that so far it hasn’t, except in regard to putting the economy on what amounts to a wartime footing’; that ‘the Government has (thus) hugely expanded the role and reach of the state’; that ‘as we discovered after the second World War, once this type of economy is established, it is extremely difficult to be rid of it’; that wartime regimes and the social support arrangements then put in place, are not easily dismantled’; and that ‘they remain sticky long after the emergency that created them has passed’.

His article goes on to report that ‘according to the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast this week (c.f. the above date), the UK public expenditure is due to surge from a staggering 16.4 per cent to a peacetime record of 56.3 per cent this financial year’; that ‘this tapers away in the central forecast until it reaches the same level of spending in five years time as before the crisis, at around 40 percent of national output; that ‘that may be what the Government aims for, but given the hard choices that need to be made in getting there, it is going to be politically very difficult to achieve’; that ‘in any case, we’ve already thrown more money as a proportion of output at the problem than in any other advanced economy bar Canada’; that once loan guarantees and other forms of liquidity-support are taken into account, other countries such as Germany have admittedly gone further still; but that their up front spending has been significantly less’; that channelling such a huge increase through an unreformed public sector has proved a scandalously wasteful process; that if success is measured by excess deaths per capita, only Spain has performed worse than the UK among the advanced economies’; and that ‘on any objective analysis, the UK has proved shockingly inept in its handling of the pandemic crisis’. 

‘That said’, Jeremy Warner, proceeds to say that ‘it is hard to see how ministers could realistically have acted differently in terms of the overall approach’; that ‘he is something of a lockdown sceptic’; but that ‘he would readily acknowledge that politically it would have been extraordinarily difficult to adopt alternative strategies while all around Europe and beyond are responding in the way they have’; that ‘in previous pandemics, people on the whole got on with their lives regardless of the disease; that ‘the mounting death toll was seen as just part of the human condition’; but that ‘we are rich enough and savvy enough not to have to adopt such a fatalistic approach’; that we can ‘imagine the headlines if Britain had stood alone in letting the virus rip and as a consequence seen its health service overwhelmed and the vulnerable dying en masse’; that it is not a risk that any responsible government with political survival in mind could take’; that ‘it is not even certain that the economic impact of such an approach would have been less’;  that the higher the incidence of the disease, the more people are likely to choose voluntarily to shield themselves, especially in advanced economies where many people are rich enough to forgo earnings and where home working is easier; and that the economy might substantially shut down anyway regardless of Governmental instruction’; that nonetheless ‘the pandemic has exposed myriad failings and weaknesses both in our system of governance and in the provision of our public services’; that nowhere is this more apparent than in healthcare, where decades of penny-pinching and the rationing of provision’ (and mismanagement) ‘have created a capacity constraint that necessitates closing down much of the economy merely to prevent the system being overwhelmed’; and that ‘there could scarcely be a better example of false economy’.

He concludes that ‘as a nation, we need to be spending more on social care to provide the sort of service people increasingly demand and expect, perhaps two to three percentage points of our GDP more’; that ‘institutional reform – allowing healthcare to be transformed from the producer determined service it is today, into the modern consumer-led business it needs to be – would flow naturally from changing the funding model of general taxation to a system of hypothecated national insurance’; that ‘public or private makes no difference in principle’; that ‘the NHS was a glorious thing when it was conceived’; but that ‘it is no accident that no developing nation has chosen it as a model for universal healthcare’; that ‘if we can’t reform it, even after a crisis as serious as that produced by Covid-19’ (more correctly by our response to Covid-19 ) ‘we never will’; and that ‘sadly, there seems to be little if any appetite for it among our perpetually fire-fighting political leaders’.

As I have previously reported in this website, I am grateful to such as Allister Heath and Jeremy Warner for identifying the failures of political parties to implement successfully their respective policies in reality. However, while media commentators in general only respond to expressions of beliefs with those of counter-beliefs, and while such as Heath and Warner do point up these failures with occasional references to reality, all thus identified failures are generally treated as inconclusive by the readership because no commentator ever differentiates belief/counter-belief from conclusive knowledge of reality, without which, the debate itself is interminable and inconclusive, and while debate can change an elective belief-consensus to an elective counter-belief-consensus, as happens in elections which change the governing-party, this change is merely that of changing the temporary beliefs of relatively few voters to temporary counter-beliefs. However, with the political handling of response to the Brexit referendum, and of response to the to Covid-19 infection, having now brought some commentators to call for something different to be done in future, without actually specifying this difference, I am now more hopeful that those who already see the need for change, will now also see the need to replace belief/counter-belief with conclusive knowledge, and will also see that this need can be satisfied only by replacing definitive belief with definitive knowledge as these terms have been definitively differentiated in this website; and that this replacement would be greatly facilitated were  media commentators, who have the public ear, to support my Campaign for knowledge to replace belief in all future policy-making, as these terms are definitively differentiated in this website.             3/12/20.   

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