Public sector inertia, Atlas shrugged in Australia, India by luxury train

Jul 1st, 2010 | By | Category: This morning's reading

Morning Reading, selected articles of interest from various publications.

The Great Inertia Sector: A whistleblower’s account of council work where staff pull six-month sickies
Monday morning, it’s 10am and I’m late for work – but there’s no point hurrying because even though I should have been at my desk 30 minutes ago, I know I’ll be the first to arrive at the office.
Sure enough, the planning department is a ghost town.
Our flexi-hours policy means that employees can start any time between 7.30am and 10am, but council workers like to treat that as a rough guideline rather than the contractual obligation that it is.
I’m a senior planning officer: it’s my job to inspect buildings, grant planning approval and to guide members of the public looking to alter their homes.
Our department has 60 employees and – until last Tuesday – a budget of £22million.

I’ve been there for two years and in that period the only time I’ve ever seen every employee present and correct was at the Christmas party.

At least ten people will be off sick on any one day. The departmental record holder is Doreen – she has worked a grand total of eight days in 14 months.

Doreen must be the unluckiest woman in the country.
In the past year and a half she claims she has: fallen victim to frostbite; been hit by a car; and accidentally set herself on fire.

But she’s really pulled out all the stops with her latest excuse: witchcraft. That’s right, Doreen believes somebody in Nigeria has cast a spell on her and that it would be unprofessional of her to attempt to do the job she is paid £56k a year for while under the influence of the spell.
She has already been off for four months on full pay. I’ve no idea how long this spell lasts, but my guessing would be six months to the day – the exact amount of time council employees can take off on full pay before their money is reduced. […]
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Lina’s comment: Well, by this account they seem to (almost) beat the Greek public sector. Shameful, wasteful, unacceptable – we must stop this type of government largesse with our money. De-construct the public sector now! (and – yes! – fire a lot of these people)

Socialist Pigs
Capitalism produces. Socialism distributes. The two systems do not coexist comfortably with one another. In fact, they are inimical.

Some of the most celebrated champions of socialism have coined terms like “greedy capitalist” or “capitalist pig.” By implication, a socialist is neither greedy nor a pig. But economic history suggests that socialists are just as porcine as their capitalist counterparts…maybe even more so.

One need only look to the recent goings on in Australia, your editor’s country of birth, for a glimpse into the real world outcomes of this ideological struggle. Kevin Rudd was last week ousted from Prime Ministership after a botched attempt to impose a “super profits” tax on the most productive sector of the Australian economy – the mighty mining sector. […]

Ms. Gillard is certainly aware of the research released by the Western Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry that suggests the “super profits” tax, as it stands, would have erased $4.4 billion and 17,000 jobs from the West Australian economy next year – before the tax was even scheduled to be implemented in 2012. The study further predicts the cost to the state’s economy would have risen each year to total $60 billion and 100,000 jobs lost by 2020. […]

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Lina’s comment: Atlas shrugs in Australia and the prime minister falls – I hope his successor will soon follow. A lesson for all producers (don’t allow your abuse).

To the Taj in a stately rattler
We boarded the Maharajas’ Express later than scheduled, arriving at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly known as Victoria) about midnight. A red carpet led up steps. Staff, keen to avoid further delay, sped us along it. We ducked through a security arch, had our foreheads daubed with the ritual tilak mark and then, with just time to glimpse the splendid red livery with its crowns and stripes and loping tigers, we were on board. Waiters in smart tunics and tailed turbans offered glasses of melon juice. We glimpsed leather chairs in the bar and a vivid mural of a tiger. Then our young valet, Himanshu, was leading my wife and I along the corridors to our suite, Navratna. […]
Leather seats and lunch with the maharana – Michael Kerr discovers that a new “cruise train” journey between Mumbai and Delhi comes complete with palace visits, elephant polo and a dash of opium at tea time. […]
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Lina’s comment: Would love to see India in this “decadent” way – why not?

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