Thursday, 6 January 2011

Waste Not, Want It!

From the Rake's Progress - Sarah Young bails out her callous and spendthrift babyfather, Tom Rakewell.  Give 'im up, love, he's not worth it! - by William Hogarth (1735) - public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 2011 has dawned upon Britain with the harsh light of economic austerity. Taxes must rise like helium-filled balloons, and services must drop like politician-filled trousers. Some services, and the taxes that fund them, are obviously more essential than others.

Step forward, Sir Andrew Cahn, departing head of the government's corporate welfare business promotion unit UKTI. Sir Andrew himself is just now stepping through the revolving door to the board of a convenient investment bank, but he has doughtily defended the public interest to the last. From an leaked e-mail between him and his incoming successor:

"The FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] is heading for an underspend and wants to get money out of the door. If we can spend money in this financial year on a one-off basis, then we can have at least £1million. Can you think what we might do with such money. In the past it would have been marketing but Cabinet Office restrictions may make that difficult."

The Daily Mail, in a freak gust of usefulness, has the whole scoop here.

Well, I sure hope my tax rises and boarded-up libraries will be paying for that!

There is, of course, nothing odd about this behaviour beyond its exquisitely embarrassing timing, and the fact everybody got to hear the dirty detail. That is how any organization large enough to have departmental budget generally works. Departments and managers which don't play the game are defunded and/or eliminated in favour of those that do. But it is hard to have my pocket picked even more lint-free than it was, just so that a £250K fat cat can ask for ideas as to how the loot might be used to justify the proudness of his paunch.

This is why governments and big corporations can't have nice things. Oh, no, wait, it's why the rest of us can't. Goldang it!

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