The End of the EU.
This is another guest article by Graeme, one of our regular contributing authors. It touches on various aspects of bureaucracy with some examples of its self-serving tendencies, if not outright corruption. It also highlights a worrying trend that has developed over the last decade of what amounts to governance by unelected bureaucracies, bypassing the democratically elected representatives of the people.
The EU is facing many life-threatening problems at the moment; immigration that’s totally out of control, a common currency that looks unsustainable for some of its member states, an assumption by the over spending southern states that the productive northern ones will bail them out time after time, and a feeling by the latter that enough is enough. Those days, like some of those spend and borrow member states, are gone I think.
Compounding all those problems is a widespread perception by the common person that it’s actually run by bureaucrats rather than the elected MEPs, who in point of fact have surprisingly little legislative power. It’s rule by regulation rather than parliamentary legislation, and it is bureaucrats in obscure committees framing those regulations to suit nobody’s aims but their own.
The smell of ripe bananas hung in the laboratory air. Not surprisingly because three ripe fruits were attached to a quoit of rope hanging from a hook in the ceiling. Several white coated observers waited as a monkey was led into their midst, its attention immediately fixed on the fruit, obviously out of its reach.
The monkey looked around the laboratory at the three choices left for it, a scattering of boxes that could be piled up, a light weight step-ladder, or a long pole with a hook on the end enabling it to lift the quoit off the hook in the ceiling. For perhaps 25 seconds the monkey obviously thought before it made its choice. Then taking one unresisting but baffled observer by the hand it drew him under the bananas, swarmed up onto his head, seized its reward and fled to the farthest corner to eat the fruit. One small victory for individual choice.
A Doctor friend of mine was once involved in setting up a private hospital. Since neither he or his colleagues, like all doctors, knew anything about running a hospital they employed a firm of business consultants who knew just as much, but applied common sense to problems.
Was it necessary to employ one clerk to reluctantly sell tickets to the staff for 2½ hours a day, which they could exchange for a cup of tea from the tea lady? Was it necessary to employ another clerk to hold the stock of refreshments and issue them to the tea ladies in return for the tickets? Was it necessary to employ another clerk to audit said tea ladies and the first and second clerks? Or would it be cheaper to save time by providing the necessary items and rely on staff self-interest to maintain stocks and clean the tea room?
Then there was the question of staff pay. The doctors all knew who they wanted as the Matron, a highly qualified and outstanding choice, but with no idea what she was paid in the public hospital. They provided a list of duties to the Consultants, management of 120 nurses etc. and were told that $31-33,000 p.a. would be appropriate. (This was quite some years ago). So one morning tea break at her public hospital two of the doctors asked her quietly “what would you say if we offered you $31,000 to be the matron at our hospital?” Her response was “I’ll start tomorrow morning.”
She had progressed upwards from theatre nurse on $18,500, to sister in charge of 12 nurses in a number of wards earning $19,000, to matron in charge of 600 nurses receiving $19,500 p.a.
She did ask for three conditions; the first being that she could take her holidays in a few months as she was booked for a trip.
The second was that on no condition were her nurses ever be asked to count linen, bed pans etc. The doctors were aghast – they assured her that the nursing aids would do that “as in the public hospital”. She retorted that on any shift of 80-90 nurses a minimum of two, and usually double that, were employed doing just that. Why? When the accountants – which was not the word she used – in the reaches of the Department wanted a stocktake, two nursing aides would do one.
After a few weeks for cogitation a second stocktake would be demanded. When the two didn’t give the exact same numbers she would be ordered to delegate two nurses to count the chattels. She asked for a budget and told her nurses to write out a form for her to sign if something needed replacing. If bedding, towels etc. were worn, to write them off, send them to be sterilized for rags and order new ones. “You are adults and I know I can trust you”. Need I say that staff morale at the new hospital was far better than the old?
The third condition was for her to be allowed to park in the secure parking area, which the doctors had planned as they were aware that the suburb was, in the words of a local Real Estate Agent, “not yet gentrified”. Access to the secure parking area proved a distinct draw with any nurses she wished to employ. One explained to my friend how she had left her previous hospital employment to have a baby, and after two years was lured back to the afternoon shift. When she tried to park in the secure area at her old hospital, as had been the custom before, the gatekeeper directed her to park in the street.
He told her that in her absence the hospital had acquired twenty-six new administrators, who had appropriated the area for themselves. Fortunately for her, it was someone else’s newer and more expensive car which was stolen and wrecked, but that was the moment she decided to go elsewhere. (For the curious she worked late hours as her mother, who worked during daytime, could look after the children while the nurse was at work. The nurse later spotted a market niche – as the Consultants would say – and started a successful child care centre).
The upshot was that the Hospital ran under budget and the cost per patient was $75 per day. The charge at the Public Hospital was $128 a day, and they didn’t supply wine with meals, or other little things for the comfort of the patients. The doctors were told in no uncertain terms that they had to charge the same or more, so they didn’t show up the Public Hospital. Of course this was a long while ago before anxiety about rising public hospital costs resulted in the employment of MORE administrators.
No bureaucrat ever queries the notion that more bureaucrats would be better. For a start his salary increases as more report to him, and if they are above him in the Departmental tree, it means more positions available for advancement.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that polar explorers, engineers, or real estate salesmen are rarely attracted to the life behind the desks of the Public Service. Nurses and Doctors don’t intend a career of filling out forms, although a few years in Public Hospitals soon ends that illusion. It is those who want safety and predictability who are eager for the life of little choice behind a desk. They imagine a world running as a giant clockwork, with multiple cogs driven by invisible springs. Their job they see as a vital one keeping all the wheels turning in some pre-ordained fashion.
Individual choice never flows from the tip of a bureaucrat’s pen. The choices left for their subjects are always constrained for the convenience of the writers. And yet, humans being humans, those same regulations have to be ‘tightened’ regularly. The result is an increase in illegal activity by those who won’t be cowed and exasperation on the part of the law-abiding at the ever-increasing complexity of the paperwork.
The endless battle to constrain people humans from being human leads to evermore laws, rules, regulations and exasperation. One side abhors the red tape the other despairs of ever gaining their nirvana of complete control and predictable behaviour. “If only” the bureaucrats say to each other “we had the necessary resources to fix this problem”, forgetting that complexity is the mother of loopholes.
Still they console themselves with the thought that one day everybody will do what the bureaucrats want. If they blame anybody for their failure it will be the politicians, who are “always giving something away”. Did Parliament cut Death Duties from 80% to 60%? They have GIVEN AWAY all that money! Indeed any money left in the hands of the public is regarded as somehow stolen from the righteous owners, the bureaucrats. And what would the bureaucrats do with it? Why, employ more bureaucrats!
The notion of faceless bureaucrats being the sea green incorruptibles of the state owes nothing to reality and an awful lot to wishful thinking. Any claim of efficiency, etc. is bogus.
Petty corruption among the lower ranks is rife, and the rules are useless. The lumpen bureaucrats spend more time and effort in finding loopholes for their own advantage than they expend in their daily duties.
At a certain government Establishment one of the employees built a caravan on site during working hours, using government parts. One Friday he drove out with it behind his car, but he was caught when he brought it back to do some painting. The Manager left his office, for once, to show a delegation from Head Office around and got lost. He directed them down “a shortcut behind the motor garage” and there was the offender blithely painting. A subsequent investigation found that the pool cars had very high fuel usage, needed new tires after a month, and went through batteries at an enormous rate, but those working there enjoyed subsidized driving.
Years ago I knew someone who was employed in a sub-section of eleven people when a mid-week race meeting and a ‘flu outbreak reduced the numbers that day to four. The Manager acted decisively and dispatched the snuffling gormless girl to the far reaches of the Department which had appealed for help. Technically she was no help, but he preferred them to get her germs, while he accumulated a brownie point for the future. Then he and my acquaintance got stuck in and cleaned up the work for the eleven, while still observing all lunch, tea breaks etc. including the sacred “down pencils” for the last hour before knockoff.
But what of the other chap I asked? “Oh, we sent him down to deliver our lunch orders to the kiosk and he also got a packet of matches for the Manager. And we didn’t see him in the afternoon”. “Where is this kiosk?” I asked. “55 feet down the hall, six floors down and it is 12 feet from the elevator”, was the very specific answer and I queried its accuracy. “Oh, when things are quiet, we often have a Sweepstake on him; we do it properly with a starter who gives him an order and excess money for it, and a timekeeper who records when he comes back with the change”.
From my limited knowledge I suggested that the 15 minute ticket would not be worth much. “There isn’t one, the shortest time is 45 minutes and that has never won; the longest is 24 hours but we will have to extend the times because last time he wasn’t back for over 3 days”.
Another acquaintance revealed that his Department had just dismissed someone. This person, let us call him E, had been directed to switch from Section A to Section B, but was told that Section B wasn’t ready for him. So he went and got another job at a Company near by. Every morning he would sign the book at the bottom of the main stairs but then leave by the back door to his other employer. He came back at lunchtime as the Department had a subsidized Canteen, and would wander around for some minutes after lunch, so it was assumed he was still there. At the end of the day he came back and signed the book and departed.
This went on for over 9 months, until he forgot to collect his pay one week. By the time he picked it up queries were flying as to where he worked, complicated by the Managers of Sections A & B not being on speaking terms. But it was resolved and he was offered the option of repaying 10 months salary and staying or leaving. Guess what? Then the procedure was changed to “prevent this happening again”. Everybody had to sign out for lunch and sign in on their return. Recall that he used to pass the book on his way to and from lunch anyway, as he did three working days later when he reappeared using that subsidized Canteen.
Let it not be thought that this was unknown to the higher ranks. I knew a girl who did three jobs. (Yes I know you did too, but these were gazetted as requiring three people). She normally finished around 11a.m. and then read a paperback, which resulted in her Manager asking her to disguise her reading matter. “Photocopy it, and put them into a folder so it looks like you’re reading a file” he demanded. And when she left to have a baby, she was replaced by three people because that was the number approved.
Nor is the attitude to loopholes confined to the lower ranks, in Australia it became a minor scandal in the 80’s that senior retiring public servants were using their substantial lump sum superannuation to buy penthouse apartments on the Gold Coast and going on the old age pension the next week. “They had paid their taxes, so were entitled to it.”
It is this attitude that they are separate from normal rules, that any loophole is there to be used for their benefit, and above all that the more that are employed the better things become, as there are more to be closely supervised by those part of the system. Breathes there a bureaucrat with a soul so dead that he doesn’t dream of more control over more people.
The examples above of bureaucratic behaviour are nothing unusual, I expect readers will have even better ones, but try to imagine what it was like in, say, Greece where corruption was tolerated, nay, expected. ( Or read James Angelos – The Full Catastrophe). Try to imagine what it is like in the monolith of the EU bureaucracy.
When it was first adopted a Common Market possibly made economic sense. There was little evidence from 1914 that close economic ties and cross border trade brought stability, as was then expected. 40 years later the survivors, sadder but wiser, were less likely to invade one and other, so the claim that political union was essential seems suspect. They made a fundamental bungle when they decided that the bureaucracy would be in control, for it held out the glittering prize of total control to the leading bureaucrats. Every country the same, all laws the same, the same currency and everybody behaving the same.
The ‘rules’ bureaucrats work under are
1. There is a ‘bottomless bag of money” available.
2. Numbers should expand regardless of the amount of work, if any, to be done.
3. More rules, regulations and laws mean more numbers can be employed.
4. Efficiency is discouraged as it could lead to a reduction in numbers.
5. Low output by staff is an excuse for demanding more be employed
6. Inefficiency, corruption etc. should be ignored. Should it become known to the public, then that excuses more staff being employed “to clean up the problem”.
7. Always accept the lowest initial price, as extra expense “will be just cost over runs”.
8. A larger staff brings a larger budget which means promotion, so there is no need to seek the cheapest solution to any problem.
With initial success the ambitions of the EUROcrats grew. More countries meant more expansion of the bureaucracy and more people to “control”. Vast subsidies were handed out as incentives to join, and still more countries were found willing to accept handouts until reality intruded when they reached The Ukraine.
Inexperienced in industrial and commercial matters, the EUROcrats were inclined to believe those peddling grand schemes for improving the World. That many of these didn’t apply to this planet was not appreciated, especially as many bureaucrats had passed an indoctrination at a University staffed by these same peddlers of dreams. As the bureaucracy, and many politicians, believe in Rule No.1 above, the cost of a dream was never considered. The lure was of a grand and popular scheme, and none seemed better than controlling the climate.
What could be more worthwhile than endless sunny days with a gentle breeze, no storms, no icy winds, no disasters? Everybody living contented lives in a country cottage with the birds singing in the apple blossom by the window. Fervently pushed by numerous organisations with ulterior notions, and endlessly dinned into the ears of the left learning upper middle classes, media and politicians. Thus was swallowed the idea that the Earth was about to be destroyed by a small increase in a minor component of the air, without any actual proof being sought or proffered.
Gigantic plans were adopted, starting with Europe, to purge the World of evil electricity stations that burnt fossil fuels, as that seemed the likely point of least resistance by those who would end up paying for it. The wind was free and the sun shone by day on everybody, so they were surely the future source of electricity. Not having any engineering knowledge they were no doubt surprised to hear that these were rather expensive, in fact exorbitantly expensive. What advice they received from the engineers running the various grids about adding massive variables is not readily available, probably expurgated rather than censored.
As the public were reluctant to change to much more expensive electricity, it seemed logical to the EUROcrats to make the cheaper forms more expensive. An entire industry was funded on the supply of indulgences and exemptions, and the inevitable corruption and fraud that followed. Yet vast plans for more wind turbines and inter-connectors in all directions are still being mooted. They will be abandoned slowly and reluctantly, and not before further economic damage is done. The money to build them and solve other problems has already gone, blown away by the wind.
The thought of all those billions of euros coupled with many undisciplined politicians imagining themselves as Father Christmas using those forthcoming carbon taxes, raised the costs and sent many national budgets into deficit. Year after year, various countries spiraled deeper into debt, regardless of agreements and rules. The breaches by the more delinquent countries were overlooked because Germany and France were also guilty of breaching the same rules.
But the policy “succeeded” in raising the cost of electricity, with the apparently unforeseen consequence that various industries started moving their operations to a cheaper location. The resulting unemployment sent many onto social welfare, which became a way of life for some, and sent many national budgets out of control. Some of the newer joiners to the EU must now be thinking that their initial enthusiasm was mistaken.
And what happened when the illusion was threatened? Incompetence, panic followed by savage reprisals. Already Ireland, Spain, and Portugal have suffered the wrath of the apparatchiks. Followed by Italy when their Government was arbitrarily sacked. Cyprus and then Greece were savagely dealt with under the iron grip of the EUROcrats determined to punish any deviation from ‘proper’ conduct. Greece should never have been let in, and should have been got rid of as soon as possible. That they revolted after 5 years of austerity and have now been sentenced to further punishment, is merely time wasted. At some time soon they will default and exit the Euro.
Then came the fiasco of the ‘refugees’. With little thought or consultation with other EU members, Merkel flung open the gates to entry by anyone. A policy not highly regarded since the example of Troy. The alien hordes flooded in as they did at the end of the Roman Empire, although without the desire to integrate nor the willingness to defend their new homeland shown then. Ask yourself, what is the dominant desire shown by these millions. Never ending demands for social welfare? Evident even through the filtering applied by the leftish leaning media? And who will pay for that?
And I used the word millions deliberately – they may not know the language of their new hosts but they do know how soon they will be entitled to bring in the rest of their family. Firstly comes the able bodied man and then there are his sisters, and his cousins and his aunts! And their sisters, cousins and aunts! Already this disastrous decision has destroyed the Schengen agreement as many countries shut their borders despite the hand flapping of the bureaucrats, to whom the illusion is more important than any long term view.
Across southern Europe the masses are seething after years of dictated austerity. With the forthcoming elections in many countries the voters are likely to abandon the traditional centralist parties and vote for the fringe dwellers. The result will be the Left demanding debt relief and a return to the “good old times”. This will be opposed, if only because no country can afford to spend on that scale, and so yet more repression prescribed with the result that the mirage will start to fragment. For defying the rulers over one matter will end in the defying of them in all.
The best that the EUROcrats can hope for is a split into a ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ Europe. That will be the end of the EURO, without solving the problem of the enormous debts.
Northern Europe will see a rise in right-wing political parties exploiting the resentment at demands from the South for more subsidies to keep them in the style that they would like but can’t afford. The answer will be more regulations and repression, as the EU becomes Dictatorship of the people, by the bureaucracy and for the bureaucracy, and history proves this will be futile. Like the monkey, people will look for other solutions.
The End is Nigh.