I attended a meeting yesterday which was very useful but the most inspiring bit was a story told during the lunch break about a man who made a positive difference in spite of the politics and the corporate machine rather than because of it. Other elements of the meeting demonstrated to me just how difficult it is to move an essentially sensible, money-saving solution forward without having to get involved in pampering senior people in lofty positions. I hope that it is possible for ordinary public sector people to be inspired by this story to sidestep the politics and deliver solutions that improve services.
The story is all about software development so its pretty geeky but bear with it because it tells an important story. It makes me think about all those good people who work in the public sector who will loose their jobs in the budget cuts. All those people who are involved in positive projects that would have made a difference if only they were allowed to continue. All those people who really care about trying to make things better despite the politics and corporate egos which constantly conspire to get in their way.
Read Watch (from about 8:00)
This also represents some of the essence which is David Cameron's 'Big Society' but there is a problem. I totally agree that people have to get involved in doing things in their own time to make their society better. I help run a Boys Brigade company in my spare time but I do acknowledge there is a lot more I could be doing.
However, we can't afford to sack over 1 million public sector workers and expect them all to be so positively engaged in their previous work that they all continue to come to work for free and finish the projects they were previously working on (like Ron). What is more likely is that whereas before they were earning money, paying taxes, spending money in shops and generally supporting the economy, they will now be on state benefit, feeling depressed, leaning on health and policing services and being a burden on the state. It is ironic that while this takes place, the 'state' in the form of the public services will have become much smaller and less effectual in coping. Sounds a bit like a implosion which, once ignited may continue to spiral downwards and not stop until - well who knows where it may stop?