20 June 2010

Coalition collusion

The coalition government is behaving just like New Labour in cunningly manipulating public opinion. Doubtless you will have heard that our new government has even less money than anybody realised, the public sector has grown hopelessly out of control and the pensions of government workers are going to be even more unaffordable than we thought. This rhetoric in advance of a budget is, of course, contrived to prepare us for something very bad the idea being that when we finally hear what is in store for us we will be so inured that we won't quite feel the need to riot on the streets. That something very bad will be a wholesale assault on the public services.

The other day Dr Grumble met a nice lady. She works for a chain of high street chemists. Dr Grumble rarely visits such places. There is a reason for this. The average chemist stocks scarcely anything of value to Dr Grumble. Toothpaste, razor blades, soap and shampoo are about all Grumble needs from the chemist. Most of what is for sale is of no value to Dr Grumble whatsoever. Dr Grumble asked what this charming lady did in the chemist's shop. It turned out she was a health advisor which, of course, interested Dr Grumble. He is, after all, aware of the enormous number of snake oils that some of these high street stores now seem to stock. The number and range of useless pills and potions, vitamins and supplements they peddle is remarkable. Why people buy them is puzzling. They are certainly not cheap. After talking to the charming health advisor, Dr Grumble was to become even more perplexed. He asked what sort of advice she gave. Her answer was clear. She advised people who come into the shop that they do not need these various pills and potions provided they are on a good diet. The amazing thing is that, despite this advice, the shoppers buy their useless vitamins or whatever and then fall hook line and sinker for the 3 for 2 offer. They not only buy what they never needed but they end up purchasing three times more than what they didn't even need in the first place. It is quite extraordinary. Not that Dr Grumble should be surprised. He gently tells his patients that they really don't need to pay out for these things and they too take absolutely no notice.

You don't have to keep your ear very close to the ground to hear from the coalition that the only honourable sort of work is work in the private sector. Work in the high street chemists would be an example. These industries, you will be told, are the only ones that generate wealth. These hard working types beavering away in the shops earn the money to pay those of us fortunate to have a cushy number in the public service. We do not generate wealth. Those in industry do. In short there are the grafters in the private sector and the spongers in the public sector. That anyway is how the coalition would have you see it. Because it then follows that the spongers need to go and the grafters should be encouraged.

This is, of course, utter nonsense. If you work for a company that makes, say, bottled water you are doing a job that is completely useless. We just don't need it. We used to manage without it. Somehow society has been persuaded by a less than honest industry that everywhere we go we must have a bottle with a teat on it which we should swig from regularly as if we are newborn babies. Even the Grumble hospital has been persuaded to spend thousands on bottled water for the convenience (and, apparently, health) of staff and patients alike. It is crackers. It costs a fortune. A man in a van has to deliver it at great expense producing CO2 on his way. Loads of plastic is wasted and meanwhile water of the same, perhaps better, quality flows freely from the taps.

Only $55 (without the girl)

Think about this. What wealth is the bottled water company creating? What value is there in the high street shop which sells snake oils? All these organisations have achieved is the perpetration of an enormous con on the public. They have somehow deluded us (well not Dr G) into believing that we need to buy this stuff. It's bonkers. We do not need these private con artists. They are the spongers. They are the wastrels. There is no wealth creation in providing us with water we already have coming out of our taps or patent medicines with utterly no efficacy.

Now compare the private bottled water company with your local state school. Has your local school conned you into believing that your children need to be educated? No. They didn't even advertise. You know your children need education. You know it is of value. Are the people who work in the school educating your children spongers? No. Of course not. They are working hard and creating real wealth deposited in your child. It's an intangible wealth. It will be a long time before it comes to fruition but there is no doubt about its importance and its benefit. We all know it. Don't let the coalition tell you otherwise.

The public sector is not just a bunch of spongers. We need them. Whether it is the council mending your roads or or the university or school teaching your offspring, we need these things more than the snake oils in the chemists or the ubiquitous bottled water. Don't let the colluding coalitionists tell you otherwise. We need to stop the waste in the private sector. A hefty tax on bottled water and snake oils would be a start.


Anonymous said...

Preaching to the converted Dr G.

Excellent rant.


Nurse Peg said...

What are your thoughts of Vit. D3 Dr. Grumble? I am a nurse and enjoy keeping up to date with research and would rather read a research paper than a (quality) newspaper.

It appears to be a belief that many of us may have a D3 deficiency that can lead to many problems. It appears that increases are recommended in COPD and pregnancy and could cut the risk of pancreatic cancer; may offer protection in colectoral cancer; breast cancer may be slowed; can reduce calls in the elderly (but not fractures); be helpful in MS and vascular health and so on and so forth.

However it would appear that high levels in the elderly lead to an increase in brain lesions and could increase the risk of cognitive impairment.

D3 is the only supplement I have ever purchased - but I'm bought and sold on it. I do wonder whether it, or a combo of it and prescribed meds have led to a reduction in symptons. I take it as is and not with calcium. Thoughts please!

Dr Grumble said...

Of course I have oversimplified to make a point. If you want the whole story, my health advisor informant did say that sometimes Ca and Vit D were appropriate. But the details of these things are never that simple as you know and I am not expert enough to be able to give you a useful view here. Perhaps somebody else can help.

Onus Probandy said...

I think you've missed the point.

The private sector is not guaranteed to create wealth (most start up businesses fold within the first few years). However, it is only the private sector that is capable of creating wealth. The public sector is not.

This is not to say that everything the public sector does is useless; but the balance needs correcting: the public sector has to be paid for by someone, and that someone is the private sector. There is no way around that.

Those who do useful, productive tasks in the public sector should be crying out for cuts as much as the private sector -- the productive public sector (I'm counting you in that on faith) suffer as much as the rest of us. The clipboard wielders, outreach officers, diversity co-ordinators and middle management wastrals are taking the money that would be better spent on you, taking your pensions and making your working lives miserable.

Anonymous said...

Onus Probandy:

Please allow me to be so bold as to supply my own point of view on the point you made. I agree with you, it would be lovely to get rid of the ridiculous waste in the public sector, specifically the NHS as that is what I know best. Any sensible assault on the veritable Everest of the almost innumerable strata of management would be most welcome. Experience suggests, however, that my definition of 'waste' and those in government/management's definition differ quite significantly.

I actually just came here to thank Dr Grumble for his excellent post with which I find myself in complete agreement. These dark hints have been coming out for a while now, culminating in a typically hysterical headline in the daily fail. I, too, strongly resent the implication that the public sector is simply a drain on the country's resources. Who keeps the private sector well? Who educates them? Who maintains law and order to allow a stable economy to flourish?

Anonymous said...

portraying the public sector as a drain on resources is simply stereotypical nonsense that generates a lot of heat and light and fails to engage intellectually with anyone let alone those on the the front line - cheap political point scoring, a bit like having a go at fat people in the usual knee jert fashion.

English Pensioner said...

The difference with the public sector is that you have to pay whether you like it or nor. A small item: I have just received from our District Council the "District Times" which is a "Non-political" magazine devoted to telling us how good they are.
I can choose whether I buy a magazine at the bookshop - I pay for this whether I want it or not.

Terry Hamblin said...

Health care and education are assets worth paying for. If they weren't paid for by the public sector we should have to buy them somewhere. They do create wealth. The question is whether it is worth something to me to pay for someone else's education and health care. I think it probably is, but teh difficulty is in setting teh right price without a market.

Dr philyerboots said...

Half my income come from private work, in the wealth creating sector, half from my NHS work. At once I am wealth creator and destroyer, curiously for identical work!

Anonymous said...

i suppose lovechips.co.uk
is the kind of public service web site that you support, since it is 100% funded from public funds (we have so few other good uses for our taxes), setup by exactly the kind of centralist nutters of the last labour govt you so love?

lovechips.co.uk is for me a shining beacon of everthing that is wrong with this country

Dr Grumble said...

We're on common ground, anonymous. If Dr Grumble has time he will give you a list of NHS spending which should be cut. But since the goverment is writing to 6 million public sector workers to find out what to cut it may not be necessary.

Anonymous said...

just watched my dad die the last few days

the crapest days of my life

the death cert will say "prostate cancer" but up close and personal its obvious he really died of dehydration caused by drugs preventing him drinking and no IV fluids, yes I was a knowing observer to this but im rethinking my views on much of this

im not convinced the way we treat our dying folk is acceptable, the pretence that he died naturally when in practise the timing was selected with precision by the medical team

less than impressed to find a nurse can certify a death these days (sure he will get a second look over by a doc after he has already been in a fridge a few days, if he wasnt dead when he was put in the fridge he sure will be by the end!)

and death by dehydration while on a morphine pump and sedation is not the rosy "died peacefully at home" bollocks we all kid ourselves, it was clear to me even in his last hours my dad knew when i was sitting next to him, sure drugs may have prevented him showing signs of distress but it sure cannot have been all that peaceful for him, and it wasnt peaceful watching

but you know i reflect at just how crap the nhs is, to have left him to die after early diagnosis over a long period when early intervention would have been routine in the rest of the western world with nothing but pain relief, its not medicine its butchery

so many thanks to the hard working GPs, the hard working local and hospice nurses, thanks to everyone at the hospice, but to everyone at the local general hospital you make me sick - the consultants should hang their heads in shame the shit level of care frankly shooting them would be too good for them