Sindo: Eoghan Harris: Cowen and Kenny whistle past the grave

I didnt say they were not needed.

You said they were.

I asked you where.

That is all.

The question still stands.

Sorry, I don’t have the same synoptic view of the entire public service that you do.

Good answer. :unamused:

May I also suggest the " I dont know approach".

Thats the one I`m using.

OK, if you insist. Since the arrival of the crisis, the government has done two noteworthy things with the public service: 1) they’ve imposed an across-the-board hiring freeze so that, when people leave, they are not replaced; 2) they’ve offered various incentives to get people in the PS to take early retirement and voluntary redundancy.

The effect of these policies has been that individuals choose to leave and are not replaced. But since the policies are blunt instruments, there’s no attention whatever paid to the needs of various departments. One department might lose all its administrators and, because of the hiring freeze, they are not replaced. The Croke Park agreement is, in part, meant to mitigate this problem by allowing redeployment of staff. So the department that loses its administrators can get more from elsewhere in the public service.

Given the two noteworthy things I’ve described above, it would be remarkable if there were not crying needs for administrators (and not just administrators) in various parts of the public sector. But seeing that you have a synoptic view of the PS, I’m sure you’ll be able to determine whether this remarkable state of affairs is in fact the one that exists.

Good guess.

I realise that many on here won’t be satisfied unless there are forced redundancies in the public sector (private sector redundancies?: a tragedy!; public sector redundancies?: rejoice!). But why should there be forced redundancies if the PS can be downsized without them? Are we supposed to force people out of their jobs just to satisfy the irrational blood-lust of a few? The redeployment measure in the CP agreement make it possible to mitigate the ill effects of the hiring freeze.

Ah, but, what about the mythical Bad Ones! The ones who are sitting around all day doing nothing (which reminds me: lunch break almost over!). Well, some may exist but the picture is so caricatural that I’m afraid this idea is a bit like Ronald Reagan’s famous “welfare queen” driving up to collect her cheque in a Cadillac! It’s meant to fan the flames of white-hot outrage in the populace, but it doesn’t have much basis in reality. I’ve seen no evidence that large swathes of PS workers are doing little or nothing.

How do you know the PS is “riddled with inefficiency and overstaffing”? What if it turned out that we already did have a lean and efficient PS?

Note that the graphs spike in 2008 because of the fall in GDP not because of some hiring binge.

Yah. And the graph collapses before that because?

Could it be that transfer payments make up 20% of GDP now compared to 10% in 2000?
Could it be that bubble economic activity goosed GDP?
Could it be that the government is borrowing 15% of GDP from external sources? (which boosts GDP…).

Do you know, we should just borrow more! And then more again! And when we have done that, we should borrow more to pay the interest! And when it is too much, we should just default. Suckers!

What could possibly go wrong?

Well. I suppose the HSE is the poster-child for this. It costs - actually I don’t know what it costs. In fact since they weren’t able to give an official number of how many people they employ I’m not sure that they know how much it costs. But last I heard it costs way more than the regional health board system cost. And in spite of us flaking money at it the health-system got worse - longer waiting times, less beds, people waiting for operations, people dying while waiting for operations.

Then there’s the so-called rubber-rooms for An Post employees.

And then theres FAS.

And then there is decentralization (which to be fair isn’t the fault of Joe Bloggs who works in the PS but the way it was handled was pointless and wasteful beyond words)

And then there are the quangos. Many of them consume a lot of money but without producing anything all that tangible for the public.

I’m not saying that there aren’t good employees doing a good job. But it seems like all we hear about is massive wastage in the PS.

And I suppose the thing that the private sector hate with a white-hot-fiery-incandescent-rage is that the PS unions will not hear of redundancies or firings or “rightsizing” of any kind (yes its a horrible corporatespeak kind of concept but it isn’t always wrong). And more than anything this is the instrument that could (and should) have brought savings. You said yourself that what the government has done to-date has been blunt instruments. If the government had the steel to say “No. No more jobs-for-life - if we don’t need you then you’re let go” then the PS would have a much greater ability to right-size themselves. I hear stories about departments that are criminally under-staffed and I don’t doubt they’re true (honest to god - these stories come to me from the relatives of people in the PS and I believe they are true). And then I hear stories about fellas sitting around reading the paper. And I don’t doubt those stories either.

PS employees aren’t fungible (its my word-of-the-week :slight_smile: ). Letting attrition reduce the staff-count nearly guarantees you’re going to end up with situations like the above. So you get guys like yourself Fingers who legitimately feel put-upon. And they’ve you’ve got guys who do nothing only suckle at the public teat. Much better if we had a situation where we could tell surplus PS employees “look - thanks for your work - but we don’t need you anymore and we can’t afford to retire-you-in-place - so we’re making you redundant. Its been good and we’ve had a few laughs but there just isn’t the requirement for your services anymore”. And then use the money saved elsewhere. And yes - some of that might might even go towards hiring new PS employees in different departments where they were needed where they could ensure that the people hired had the skills required.

Bigby, I think your comments are fair. There is a lot of public sector bashing – some fair and some unfair – and a lot of it is a blunderbuss approach (“they’re all useless, sack the lot of them!”). Even within the public sector the frontline staff demonises the ‘unnecessary’ administrative staff.
My wife works in the public sector (hospital) in an admin function. Previously she was in the private sector. She is literally run off her feet and from what she tells me her area is definitely understaffed, but the issues inherent from that are also exacerbated by some poor management and inefficiencies in the hospital and the HSE. Also, like any workplace there are smart people and stupid people, hard diligent workers and lazy incompetent slackers. She finds the constant public sector bashing very demoralising.

Senator Jerry Buttimer is also keen to discuss the ‘political class’…

Harris is a devious fu*ker. He uses the term ‘political class’ because he understands how the word ‘class’ creates a perception of entitlement and privilege. He understands how the middle and lower class Irish still doff their cap to the big house, and by elevating himself to a higher caste he protects his position and his privilege.

See! We are totally West Brits :laughing:

No. They are totally West Brits. I have no class.


Depends where you work and what you mean by “large swathes”. Certainly quite a few people in my place who sit at their desk browsing the Internet all day until they’re called upon to open a stationary closet or something.

I’ve never observed this in action. Could you give an example of this phenomenon?