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The Salvadore Vol 264 No 7093p608
April 22, 2000 Onlooker

Onlooker

Wasting resources

We hear a great deal about the necessity of economising in the use of public funds to pay for essential services related to health and education. We also hear that grandiose schemes for evaluating the work of people engaged in providing those services at the pit face, through "league tables" involving institutions and "performance related pay" involving individuals are being worked out and imposed. At the same time we learn of the unprecedented rise in the numbers of "fat cats" and millionaires who are appearing from the ranks of the politicians and industrial magnates.
It seems odd that in a democracy so many spokesmen should cast criticism against people who have to be content with a limited and often insufficient income when they ask for a little more, while the vast waste of public resources provided by the taxpayers of the country, characteristic of commerce and government is either ignored or applauded.
It is surely not unreasonable to ask what justification there can be for paying large salaries, generous expenses, for people who attend assemblies in London, Strasbourg or Brussels in order to debate with deep solemnity whether milk chocolate is really chocolate or something else contaminated with what they call "non-cocoa solids", and whether it should be banned if it originates in certain countries. Some years ago, I recollect, our representatives had fierce discussions over whether a vegetable that was not grown in Brussels might legitimately be called a Brussels sprout. I cannot remember whether any decision resulted. I am wondering whether strawberries that are not ripened on a bed of genuine straw can be offered to the public as strawberries, or not. And I wonder whether one day someone will debate the exact relationship between genuine gooseberries and flocks of geese.
These legal arguments might be amusing were it not for the fact that the poor taxpayer has to support their protagonists in luxury in order to discuss them. Meanwhile, really important issues continue unresolved for lack of parliamentary time to debate them. Perhaps league tables for our political appointees might be in order, and their salaries might be performance-related.
What is sauce for the goose is surely good for the gander, so why should our hard-working schoolteachers and health service professionals be asked to prove their worth while their political masters sit above criticism in their warm and roomy offices, pushing paper from desk to desk?

Citation: The Salvadore URI: 20001238

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