Steve continues to pursue, with admirable doggedness, the #plebgate affair – situating it thus. He argues that public confidence in the police may be shaken for many historical reasons – but that the Andrew Mitchell case should not, at least as yet, be one of them.
Myself, I’m beginning to wonder if there aren’t other issues we should factor into our current body politic and society – and which might help explain how dreadful things are getting. For instance, everyone who has ever been a half-decent teacher or parent knows that the confidence and trust you exhibit in someone is often a self-fulfilling tool to sustain that person’s own confidence and trust in themselves. What’s more, the job of good government – where it chooses intelligently not to micro-manage society – should surely be to engender such environments of wider confidence and trust at a societal level.
Not to do so is to endanger the ability of these societies to create the relationships which lead to better, more efficient and less corrupt economies and communities.
Yet this Coalition government of ours appears to care not one jot about the evermore scarce resources that are confidence and trust. In fact, it seems to be quite happy to express the most savage absence of belief in its people – allowing and even encouraging the broader perception that the blame for all our ills lies with the most helpless in society. “If only the sick, poor, disabled, elderly and jobless would fuck off,” so the mantra seems to go, “we could get on with our hierarchical-capitalist ways till the [cash] cows came home.”
For hierarchical capitalism, as described by Chris today, and as employed, encouraged and sanctioned by British governments since time immemorial (but, in particular, by Cameron and Blair), is not only unfair – it’s also bloody inefficiently unfair. As per Chris’s post:
[...] Fehr and colleagues say:
We find a strong behavioral bias among principals to retain authority against their pecuniary interests and often to the disadvantage of both the principal and the agent.
Some two-fifths of principals did not delegate even when income-maximization required it. This suggests that people get a non-pecuniary buzz from being in control, and seek this benefit at the cost of economic payoffs to themselves and others. This is consistent with the findings of other experiments by Fehr and colleagues, which suggests that hierarchy facilitates exploitation rather than pure economic efficiency.
My conclusion? People at the top are not only working in an unjust way but also in a wasteful way. If injustice were the only problem, we might still escape the implications of such a system. But it’s manifestly not. And it’s getting far worse. If you think Cameron is evil, you really ain’t seen nothing yet.
Let’s take the case of workfare. As the Department of Work and Pensions, in what would appear to be one of its more rational moments, has been reported to have concluded:
Academic analysis by the Department of Work and Pensions has cast doubt on the effectiveness of workfare policies. After surveying the international evidence the from America, Canada and Australia the report states:
“There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers. Subsidised (‘transitional’) job schemes that pay a wage can be more effective in raising employment levels than ‘work for benefit’ programmes. Workfare is least effective in getting people into jobs in weak labour markets where unemployment is high.”
Not that government pronouncements or practice on the ground would care to give any credence to the above. You only have to take a quick look around the worldwide web to realise this.
But if you thought Cameron was evil, how about this for a taster of what such untrusting and confidence-lacking hierarchies are capable of?
Imagine going to work every day and not getting paid. Then, one day, you’re told there’s no work to do — so you must pay the company for the privilege of not working.
This is the daily reality facing Mrs. Kim, a petite 52-year-old North Korean. Her husband’s job in a state-run steel factory requires him to build roads. She can’t remember the last time he received a monthly salary. When there are no roads to build, he has to pay his company around 20 times his paltry monthly salary, she says.
The truth of the matter is that economies the world over – whatever the ideological colours that run their governments, states and politics – can only ever flourish in environments where minimum levels of the trust and confidence I’ve already mentioned above exist in sufficient and realistic amounts. Whether such economies be located in the extremes of North Korean or, indeed, British injustice, people will simply not be willing to take the (additional) risks that imaginative capitalism demands of its participants – especially if the (unavoidable) risks of simply bringing bread and butter home to the kitchen table are as rankly unjust as both North Korea, and now in its own tepid way the UK, appear to display more and more.
Hierarchy as thus exhibited and taken advantage of by those at the top will never function effectively; will never make people work as well as they could.
In order to take the kinds of risks proponents of imaginative capitalism argue must be taken, we need to ensure that life is supportive of those risks. Because any society which makes the reward for sticking your neck out the guillotine is not a society with too much of a future. And men and women as intelligent as those who lead our Western governments today should really have sussed out this truth by now.
A final string of thoughts.
How can any government possibly believe it can engineer changes in a society without getting people onside first?
How can any government possibly believe it can modify behaviours without achieving a certain degree of collaboration and consensus first?
How can any government possibly believe it can implement a series of difficult and challenging policies without managing people as people first?
Unless, of course, like the North Koreans, it believes that hierarchy is all you need to make stuff work.
As I pointed out in a tweet yesterday:
Q: What would these Tories do if they realised they’d lose the next election? A: Exactly what they’re doing right now. #Think #Tremble
Once you realise you don’t need democracy to action the levers of power, everything else just runs as smooth as silk.
Only you do know that silk is made by worms.