There is a trend nationally to “suggest” that you, the public have asked for something you really haven’t.
The latest is the increased taxes for the NHS. It was suggested that people would be willing to pay more for the NHS back in the annual winter crisis when the usual "there is not enough money" cries first went up. Somehow this poll, which was never as far as I know named, had surveyed a number of the populace with the magic words “would you be prepared...?” and the answer came back yes.
Whether there was anything else asked is not revealed, but if you ask at a time of crisis with all the attendant headlines of death and despair you would likely get an unthinking response if the questioning was put a certain way that would confirm the result.
The government must have either secretly paid to have this poll done or else could not believe their luck and soon rumblings of tax-raising for the NHS were heard and indecently quickly a promise was made to do just that; the Brexit extraction of monies is at this stage wishful thinking.
This did two things: (1) it gave the government the pretended right to raise taxes as if it was the will of the people, without ever asking them; and (2) it made them look caring. After all, successive governments have thrown money at the NHS when it was appropriate to do so, not necessarily when it was needed and never with any quid pro quo such as the total overhaul of the NHS which is desperately needed.
So no way do the government have to get their hands dirty and the people are happy, they asked to pay more and the real problems are once more kicked down the road.
But enough of the NHS, reams of paper are not enough to describe its many shortcomings; though I will highlight just one from this week, one could highlight one every week but this will do. It is a classic, a “senior lead” (whatever that is) defending diversity:
“NHS wastes £46million on spin doctors, diversity advisors and a third sector environmental lead”.
The opening paragraph reads, “We can reveal that the NHS wasted over £46 million last year on 1,129 unnecessary jobs.”
The words that held my attention were "diversity advisors" and "unnecessary.”
Only diversity advisors are defended. She then goes on to say that the £41k-plus they get is entirely reasonable. Well she would because without them she would be out of a better paid job. The answer to all this nonsense is simply to employ the best people of whatever colour creed or religion apply but you can’t have that today and you end up with this nonsense.
A couple weeks ago I got a phone call from Anglian Water my supplier of water - well it was actually on behalf of Anglian Water. When told it was a survey I said no, but something about their business model being discussed and an Amazon voucher for ten minutes of questions intrigued me. Needless to say it was around thirty minutes in the end but that was partly because I started asking questions and surprisingly whoever was doing the questioning was in sympathy with what I said and took my my answers at face value, or seemed to.
In effect once the opening “how satisfied are you?” questions were dealt with the survey was about Anglian Water's business model for the next ten or so years. Anglian Water despite the very English name is now owned by a consortium of mainly Australian and Canadian pension funds and investment vehicles.
The survey continued and it became obvious quite early that the questions were asking me the customer about how I would be paying for the upgrading of facilities in the short medium and long term. It all seemed reasonable until the penny dropped that what was being asked was how much you were prepared to pay over what time for new facilities to be built.
There were flaws in the questions such as the longer term suggestions did not take in inflation or rising costs; somehow I think that was deliberate as once implemented the company could simply blame outside influences.
I also pointed out that Anglian Water has spent bugger-all since 2008 when the consortium took over despite a rising population, and the fact that unlike other water companies their infrastructure is less than those others as they rely largely on aquifers not reservoirs. All was said to be duly noted !
The bottom line on all this is that Anglian Water is a private company yet they are asking how you the customer would like to pay for their upgrading of facilities and infrastructure. The last time I looked private companies raised funds in the market and from shareholders for that but not any more: we are being asked would you like to pay now and which way and when the light comes on and people realise they have been conned the company can say well we asked you what you wanted and you said yes.
Up the road from me we have a reverse example, an imposed fee for a private enterprise that is not very popular and has had a dampening effect on the business, and quite rightly. Norwich airport imposes a £10 development fee on every passenger taking a flight from there. No one was asked and no one if they have a choice - and they do - pays it: they use Stansted or another airport. Norwich doesn’t go anywhere and is unlikely to in the near future, a private company charging the public for their expansion with - no other word for it - extortion.
We are starting to see a whole new way of extracting money from the public. Will they see through all this? No, unless someone starts calling out these practices in deception; and no one has yet.
It brings a whole new slant to interest free loans - or gifts, in this case.
Will we, the little people, fight back?