Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bonanza for spivs and chancers

It's not really news that a handful of large contractors are raking in billions of pounds from the taxpayer. (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/12/public-sector-paid-outsourcing-firms-4-billion-pounds)

The function of outsourcing for a capitalist economy is precisely to open up to private profit (capital accumulation) areas previously excluded, in order to provide opportunities for profitable investment. It may be that this or that contractor makes super-profits through ripping off the public sector (and the private sector often seems adept at driving a harder bargain) but that really is incidental. Margaret Hodge and the Public Accounts Committee can expose particular scandals, but it would take both a change of Government and a change of tack by the Opposition really to address this issue.

Outsourcing expresses the primal urge of capital to penetrate and commodify every area of our lives. This drive is, of course, dressed up in an ideological worship of the supposed "efficiency" of the private sector, a foolish mantra which, having been swallowed whole by politicians of all parties, continues now to be excreted over our public services.

It's deeply ironic that, while every local authority has a staff code of conduct that defines as gross misconduct any attempt by a public servant to profit personally from their professional role, Councillors think nothing of handing over whole swathes of service delivery to organisations with precisely that motivation.

While, among the many thousands of workers outsourced over the past decades, there are many good people trying to do a decent job, their bosses are all too often spivs and chancers who care only for shareholder value (and their own inflated salaries and bonuses).

As public service trade unionists we need to remember to assert that a public service ethos is both morally superior to, and practically more effective than the profit motive as a guiding principle for the delivery of public services.

And we desperately need more Labour politicians, at every level, who understand this.

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