Monday 30 March 2020

Let's Unleash More Public Sector Resources!

We are living in extraordinary times, as bad as I can ever remember. I thought that Diana dying in 1997 would be the biggest news story in my lifetime but then it was eclipsed by 9/11. There are some stories that literally take over the entire news agenda so that everything else is rendered irrelevant.

The Corinavirus story, though, has hijacked news outlets in every country around the globe, there is literally no other game in town.

But I have been massively encouraged that so many are turning their talents to assisting the cause. My own transport company has been assisting vulnerable people and our staff are classified as "critical workers". We have been put on notice that our vehicles and staff could be redirected at any time to provide other services. We are well prepared for that and our employees are champing at the bit to do so, many have already volunteered as a result of the government's call for people to help the NHS in their spare time.

It's also fantastic to see other private sector organisation stepping up to the plate. Dyson has responded to the government's call by making much-needed ventilators, along with MacLaren, JCB, Ford, Land Rover, BAE and others. Today we see that Mercedes has worked in conjunction with UCL to produce ventilators in a stunningly short space of time.

BrewDog and the Scotch Whisky Association have retooled and are producing hand sanitisers, as are AB inBev and others in the drinks industry.

Corinavirus testing centres are opening up with the BBC reporting that private sector theme park Chessington World of Adventures has given its huge car park up for the purpose, and employees of Boots have been retrained to administer swabs for invited key workers from the NHS and other key health trades. Virgin and EasyJet are also now providing workers for the new incredibly impressive Nightingale Hospital in East London.

This is absolutely magnificent, doesn't it make you proud to be British?

But we could do more.

As many have pointed out, the public sector is largely insulated from the national carnage and it would seem that they might be under-employed. The Police, shorn of anyone on the streets to arrest due to the lockdown, seem to be making the most of their new totalitarian powers and filling their time making up laws that don't exist.

They don't seem to have any pressure to furlough their staff like private businesses have to when demand is down, so have instead resorted to castigating people walking on remote hillsides, ticketing shop owners for chalking 2 metre guidelines on the the pavement to help customers social distance, and criticising shops for selling Easter Eggs.

With officers apparently having little to do, why not redirect their efforts to driving delivery vans for supermarkets instead?

Likewise state-funded nanny state activists. Many have grants which mean their salaries are protected for a considerable time. Nagging about fizzy drinks, bacon, vaping, and the odd alcoholic drink are pretty pointless considering now we are faced with something that is actually killing people. Right now!

Telling people to scrutinise bread because it has sugar in it is not really a skill we need at the moment, especially since people would mostly like to just get a loaf for their family rather than fanny around wondering about how it is made. Who cares about the sugar content of baked beans when you've not seen any on shelves for a fortnight and someone tells you that there might be a few in a corner shop two miles away?

So why not use these 'public health' workers by re-deploying them to perform proper public health work?  Granted, a lifestyle nanny will have zero transferable skills which enable them to be put on the front line, but hospitals need cleaners, people to fill out forms, to serve meals and other gopherism which they could do without costing the country a penny more.

People are dying every day, and ordinary citizens are volunteering to help with counteracting that. Some huge businesses are converting their entire operations towards health products rather than retail ones.

Getting productive jobs for lifestyle commissars so they contribute to the common cause on their hefty salaries is a great restructuring of resources, and would mirror the immense efforts being donated from the private sector.

Remember "Dig for Victory" in the second world war to get regular people to lay down their highly paid jobs and work on farms to help feed people? Well how about "Grab your mop and bucket and clean for the nation" as a mantra for those whose career is an overhead and far less important than what they could instead be doing to support the NHS?

Professional nags are a luxury at the best of times but when we are facing a crisis of this magnitude they are simply not a good use of taxpayer funds. By their own parlance, this would also be helping them, just as they say they 'help' the public by making alcohol more expensive, complaining about Easter Egg adverts or banning ads for Burger King on the London Underground.

It must be depressing for those whose normal lives, absent this crisis, entail lobbying the government for policies when government has absolutely no interest in their ideas right now. By giving them a tabard, some bleach and a mobile cleaning station, we could free up their potential and make them more productive, and happy that they are doing their bit for the country. It's for their own good.

They would most definitely thank us, I reckon, so to borrow a phrase, let's get this done. Because as the government says, we are all in this together. Aren't we?