Risk Averse

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It was announced the other day that ‘government and the wider public sector now accounts for 25% of the working population.’

Did I hear it wrong? Were they referring to a town in mid Wales? Am I going mad?

I thought the aim was smaller government. I thought public expenditure was to be cut. I thought government represented the people.

I realise that we live in difficult times, ‘twas ever thus, but when the government’s own regulatory watchdog quantifies the cost to business of complying with rules, regulations and red tape (UK and European) as now exceeding £100 billion per annum you have to question the sanity of this.

You then find that entire industry sectors are simply ignoring new ‘laws’ on the basis that they haven’t time to even read them, let alone comply.

You then see that the various regulatory bodies are loathe to fine or prosecute as many government bodies are not compliant with the laws (try the Disability Discrimination Act for example which is not only about ramps for wheelchairs but access for the visually impaired to government websites).

So more laws and regulations, a police force and watchdogs who don’t have the resources to follow up and, if they do, get bogged down in their own ‘paper mountain’ resulting in organisations stating that they will comply ‘when we get fined.’

Is it any wonder that the ‘yoof’ of today have little respect for authority of any kind?

Why is government surprised at the apathy of the voters?

Why are voters not bothering to turn out to vote?

Why are the numerous parties finding it difficult to differentiate themselves?

Listening to the recent round of Party Conferences illustrates that not only are the party faithful turning away in their droves but even MPs don’t attend anymore.

Why do they do it? It is embarrassing for both politicians and citizens.

The ‘trust’ and respect for politicians is at an all time low. It seems to me that a brave politician who commits to reducing government and dismantling the ‘nanny state’ mentality would really stand out. Respecting citizens rather than managing them ‘for their own good’ and giving them back some responsibility for their lives and actions would demonstrate trust. I believe that 99% of citizens are trustworthy. It is a role of government to deal with the other 1% but, taking Congestion Charge cameras as an example, tracking and holding information on every driver (innocent or guilty) is not the way. That is when Nanny turns into Big Brother. Yes, there are terrorists, thieves, rapists and other bad people of every race, colour and creed all over the world including the UK. Yes, innocent people will be robbed, hurt and killed. Let’s use our public services to address these specific issues NOT to watch everyone.

I accept that prevention is better than cure but life is risky. It is what makes you feel alive. We seem to be striving for a risk free world – no danger, no risks, don’t play conkers without goggles, and when things do go wrong “I slipped in the supermarket.” Who’s to blame? Who do I sue? And so another regulation is born.

Trust and respect is earned not demanded.

I believe that government needs to take the lead and start trusting citizens.

And then let’s cut back all the forms and trust nurses to nurse, teachers to teach and police to protect. Respect should be a frame of mind NOT a politicians soundbite.

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