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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Britain's Tragic Waste of Talent

Thus (wryly) John Birch, giving a reader response in The Conservative Woman:

"Allowing and even encouraging (by lack of effective punishment) crime to take place at the levels that it is today makes me highly suspicious. Has anyone ever read a study on the positive effect of crime on the economy? After all the huge number of people necessary to clear up behind criminals, all those middle-class jobs in the prison service, judiciary, probation, welfare, hospitals, paramedics. They all create turnover in the economy in one way or another linked to crime. Then we have security services, cctv, locksmiths, insurance companies, all those replacements for items stolen. And so it goes on. It makes me wonder if going soft on crime is being used to boost the economy."

John Mortimer's fictional barrister Horace Rumpole often reflects how the Timson family of criminals keeps him in claret - and indirectly, also helps employ judges and all the rest.

But what might all those resources have been used for instead, if crimes were severely reduced?

And what could we do with all the first-class brains engaged in the complexities of taxation and its avoidance?

And the geniuses using their mathematical nous to play in the great casinos of stocks and bonds?

The waste! The opportunities!


Sackerson said...

JD comments:

That quote includes the words "It makes me wonder if going soft on crime is being used to boost the economy."

It is an accidental by product of government policy, reducing Police numbers for example. But as a deliberate policy? Politicians and civil servants are not intelligent enough to think of things like that.

Here is a story about outsourcing contracts which I saw this morning -

Outsourcing is a favourite idea of those who 'know best', they think it saves money. And the various companies bleating about wafer thin profit margins are being economical with the truth; I know that because I have worked on similar PFI style contracts in the past.

So the politicians and civil servants 'negotiate' these contracts, ignorant of the commercial realities of the world of business. The same people have recently been negotiating a 'good deal' on Brexit. That has been well received, hasn't it! Clueless; no other word for them.

A K Haart said...

It is tempting to expect more to be made of this idea because we see its effects everywhere, but maybe that is the answer.

"The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble."

Charles Dickens - Bleak House

Dan said...

And once again we see people succumbing to a known logical fallacy; if money isn't spent on tidying up after crime then it will be spent elsewhere; money in a modern economy does not vanish if unspent.

Similarly permitting criminals to carry on wasting other peoples' money is again a huge waste; far better to give them therapy to teach them better (the fact that this initially would be a caning for low level offences is by the by), and to imprison recidivists for long periods simply to give the rest of society a holiday from their activities.

Sackerson said...

@Dan: "if money isn't spent on tidying up after crime then it will be spent elsewhere." But some spending increases productivity.

And some spending could reduce waste, as your second paragraph indicates. With luck, your suggestions would end up in less expenditure overall, and hope for many poor lives.

I'm not coming at this from an unthinking right-wing starve-the-government angle. Cat-and-mouse tax games and the poker-group investment market don't generally involve criminal law.

Paddington said...

In the US, as they cracked down (pun intended) ever harder on the drug users (mostly African-American) and sent them to prison, sometimes for life, the system did less and less to prosecute white collar crime at high levels.

That is one reason why the bankers who almost collapsed the economy in 2007 did not go to prison, and made fortunes from their crimes. It is also why we have Donald Trump for President, after his decades of open fraud and tax evasion.