Public Sector Reform

Peter McLoone writes an opinion piece in today’s Irish Times: you can read it here.  He details the reforms that were on offer during last week’s negotiations and it is an impressive list  – the scope for substantial efficiency improvements in the public sector seems quite substantial.

In terms of analysis,  eliminating inefficiency in the public sector will help raise living standards across the economy over the medium term.  The union movement has recognised the potential for such fundamental reform and implementing these reforms would be a very positive contribution to the renewal of the economy.

In terms of the short run,  Mr McLoone criticises the deflationary impact of public sector pay cuts. Since the union movement has agreed to a target of €1.3 billion in payroll savings in 2010 (albeit with the protection of the standard hourly rate of pay), I would be interested to know Mr McLoone’s views on the  short-run macroeconomic impact of the alternative package proposed by the union movement.

In today’s edition, there is also an op-ed by my colleague John O’Hagan on public sector pay: you can read it here.

47 thoughts on “Public Sector Reform”

  1. The problem with this is that restructuring without salary cuts costs cash, it doesn’t save it in the short-term.

    There is no reason not to still go ahead with restructuring in the context of salary cuts, in order to insure there are not further salary cuts later.

  2. But the deal floundered because the Government reneged on its earlier agreement that the temporary measure of unpaid leave could enable us to get through 2010

    Reneged?

    Still McLoone persists with the fantasy that a deal was effectively done.

    What part of “no basis for agreement” does he not understand?

    Believing one’s own spin is a dangerous road to go down.

  3. I hope people dont end up on a picket line in responce to this percieved or real slight. Following it thru the media it did have an air of unreality to it.

    If Congress wants to go out on this then they should seriously think of setting up a mortgage payment fund to assist members who lose the days of pay on picket lines.

    Perhaps when leadership look at their own renumeration there will be the makings of a fund there

    Al

  4. At this stage were into politics and negotiation strategies.

    And if I were to make a suggestion on that, I’d ask the parties to see how they can ensure that these proposals are investigated properly in time for the next budget…. whether thats April 2010 or Dec 2010.

    Its not like finances will have improved by then.

  5. @ Philip Lane
    There is so much fog drifting over this battlefield that it is difficult to make out what went on. However, one result of this controversy has been that Cowen has been weakened and Lenihan – at least in the short-term – strengthened. If Cowen is wondering who the source of all these, “Lenihan’s genius impeded by Cowen’s incompetence”, articles is he really shouldn’t be leader of FF. He should just ask Bertie, who was at the receiving end of a slash from the ministerial red light sabre.

  6. Maybe I am reading this wrong but to me the sugeestion that all in the PS could take 12 days unpaid leave (about 5% of the working year) and this would have “no impact on services” is a little bit frightening. What does it say about the level of value for me we are getting for our money???

    if this is the case i think P Mcl and his friends have a lot to answer for. They seem to be able to accept that their jobs can be done far more efficiently but are simply not willing to do it. What stage have we reached in thsi country when we can be held to ransom like this???

  7. @ Antoin – the deal sought by the unions was not “restructuring without salary cuts” but restructuring with salary cuts but also with cuts in working time. (This meant no cut in pay rates but from the point of view of budget calculations it’s the overall salary not the hourly or daily rate that counts).

    To more or less repeat a point I’ve made before, and given that the logic of the pay cuts strategy (in private and public sectors) is that we maintain a higher level of employment by reducing the per-employee pay bill, I wonder whether the following might have been a more attractive option for most people:

    10% cut in both working time and salaries coupled with a 5% to 8% increase in public sector numbers. This arrangement should be doable without loss of volume of public services provided. It would create thousands of jobs (tens of thousands depending on how universally it was implemented across the public sector). Budgetary savings would come from reduced unemployment, the fact that newly hired workers would be on less than existing employees and the fact that productivity gains would allow the lost man-hours of existing staff to be replaced by a smaller number of hours for newly hired staff.

    The devil would be in the detail of implementation of course – which is why this sort of thing might have been more viable if it were suggested and planned a year ago.

  8. @ James

    “10% cut in both working time and salaries coupled with a 5% to 8% increase in public sector numbers.”

    Increase PS numbers when even the unions admit that a massive efficiency and productivity transformation is required in the coming years? Not exactly an idea thats going to appeal to most people.

  9. McLoone’s article is revealing —

    The deal would have seen the introduction of shared services in areas like finance, procurement, human resources and payroll across health services, local authorities, education and the Civil Service. Competitive and merit-based promotions would have been extended to the last remaining areas of the public service, new procedures for redeploying surplus teachers would have been introduced, supervision and substitution arrangements would have been improved.

    Staff co-operation with the restructuring and rationalisation of VECs and State agencies would have been guaranteed, better management and standardisation of annual and sick leave would have happened, and better Civil Service opening and closing times would have been introduced.

    Note that the things that he says were on the table are things that in any large private sector organization would be management decisions (e.g. shared back office services, leave systems etc) or things that sound a like very strange part of the contract: since when is “staff cooperation” a concession? This is dinosaur unionism, only seen outside of Ireland walking into Jim Callaghan’s office in the 1970s.

  10. The unions are talking about “a massive efficiency and productivity transformation” because they are, I assume, representing their members’ interests rather than those of the unemployed – they prefer to preserve salaries/conditions rather than numbers employed.

    Hence the idea of “doing more with less” is advanced so as to promote the idea of a smaller public sector (but with the same salaries/conditions) providing the same level of services.

  11. @All
    I have a suggestion for the Gardai. Only one person in this country has ever received any more than a token sentence for political corruption – the one who confessed. Instead of going on strike why don’t Gardai devote the equivalent in man hours to investigating FF/Developer/Banker corruption. That would really put the wind up the elite. Remember the following when you hear FF politicians condemn the Gardai for breaking the law. FF/Developers/Bankers have been breaking the law since the 60s ever more flagrantly. As with clerical corruption, the Gardai failed to take any action. It’s time they did so.

  12. Do we really need yet another thread dedicated to bashing public service and polarising opinion?? You sucessfully jetisoned negotiations last week-public sector workers will have pay reduced by approximately 15% in the space of 10 months- all promotion opportunites have been removed indefintely -In addition they are being publically vilified to a degree just short of incitement to hatred. What next? What is your real agenda?

    Should public sector workers start wearing some form of identity so that it can be made easier to abuse them?

    In the meantime, in the real world, the taxpayer pays for bondholders in zombie financial institutions where pay, incidentally is capped at €500,000 the salary, pre-2009, of 10 public sector workers.

  13. @All
    McLoone and Beggs are perhaps too compromised to fight the government.
    Jack O’Connor seems to be holding out hope of a renewed return to social partnership after the budget. He should forget it. What the unions have to do now is stop the bailout of the mega developers that is NAMA and force justice on FF/Developers/Bankers for the economic destruction their greed has caused.

    The savings from scapping NAMA will dwarf any differences between what the government proposed and what the unions propsed to reduce public sector pay. If the net difference excluding taxes foregone and the multiplier is €300m then NAMA is 217 times more costly – excluding economic costs.
    ___________________________________________________________
    Morgan Kelly Oct13, 2009: NAMA will lose €35 Billion plus interest of €25 Billion (and bankers now say NO extra lending from it). Add on another €5Bn for finishing unwanted developments and the economic costs of keeping property rents and prices too high and you get:
    E65Bn plus economic costs & NO extra lending!

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/…256508947.html

    Morgan Kelly:
    “All that needs to be done is for ownership of Irish banks to be transferred to their bondholders…Resolution offers a way for Irish banks to be adequately recapitalised at no cost to the taxpayer, and able to manage their business without political interference.”

  14. “Should public sector workers start wearing some form of identity so that it can be made easier to abuse them?”

    That would be quite convenient, actually.

    Peter McLoone’s article is actually quite shocking in terms of the mental gymnastics that are required to understand it, and that must have been required to write it.

    He essentially argues that public sector workers are working at least 5% short of their capabilities, taking as true his assertion that 1 day per month unpaid leave will have no impact on services. If I were a public sector worker, I’d be quite angry at this slight.

    My experience of the vast majority of PS workers is that they work just as hard, and take as much pride in their work, as any private sector worker – to argue that they could easily up their work rate 5% is the kind of baseless attack I’d expect from the armchair critics of PS workers, not their, err, trade union leader.

  15. @ Vincent Byrne

    “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” – – William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 2

    Let the victims’ cross, to the tens of thousands of lives which have been destroyed by unemployment.

    How long will it take for these people to regain hope – – victims of a combination of a global recession and monumental economic mismanagement at home; most probably dedicated workers and business people who have seen years of positive effort vaporise.

    There is in my view a despicable aspect to this current union campaign at a time of a national economic emergency.

    Almost a decade ago, the unions forced the Government to agree to what was called “benchmarking.” Economist Jim O’Leary has said that the Public Sector Benchmarking Body never published its research results and at no stage in its 278-page report did it explicitly state or opine that public sector pay had fallen behind that in the private sector.

    The unions offered nor were forced to agree reforms in return for the average special payment of 9%. Subsequent rises have compounded this payment for nothing.

    Now when we need solidarity, the unions have come up with “transformational” reforms but they have no bone fides on their side.

  16. Moderators

    ““Should public sector workers start wearing some form of identity so that it can be made easier to abuse them?”

    That would be quite convenient, actually.” DAVE

    THIS IS INCITEMENT.

  17. No doubt we are all bored by the debate about the public/private wage gap. I know I am. However, John O’Hagan makes the following statement in his op-ed piece linked to above: “We cannot be much more certain in any policy debate of the evidence: public sector wage rates are well above those outside the public sector.” This cannot go unchallenged.

    First, gender is still the elephant in the room. 63 percent of public sector workers are women, compared to 36 % of private sector workers, Kelly, McGuinness and O’Connell tell us in their recent article in Economic and Social Review. They proceed to analyse the effects of a number of variables likely to affect pay – including working in the public sector – separately for men and women. This is better than treating gender as a variable, but it still doesn’t address the problem that being a woman is likely to have different effects depending on which labour market segment you work in (both within and across public and private sectors). Let’s face it, the only place you’re going to find substantial numbers of employees in occupations that are both feminised and professionalized is the public sector. How unevenly distributed must the variable for ‘professional body member’ have been across public and private sectors in the regression model for women only? When you combine this problem with unmeasured factors – such as the possibility that those ‘inflexible’ practices in the public sector may have the positive effect of protecting against gender discrimination, for example – there is an awful lot that remains unaccounted for. But descriptive statistics would help.

    Second, there is the more general problem that many public sector occupations (not just feminised ones) simply don’t have counterparts in the private sector. I know that the authors I have just referred to have attempted to address this problem using a sophisticated matching framework. But ask yourselves this. Do you really believe that the work a Garda does is equivalent to that of a ‘personal and protective service worker?’

    I’m ready to accept that there is a public sector premium. But I object to the idea that quantitative data can be treated as a magic bullet that allows you to avoid making substantive judgements about what the numbers really mean. I object even more to the idea that such data provide an unanswerable alternative to making moral and political judgements about the kind of society we want to have.

  18. @ Eoin,

    “with more workers come more pension entitlements. Its more than just headline pay at stake.”

    That’s neither here nor there really. People will need pensions whether they are currently employed in private or public sector or unemployed. If you think pensions (public/private/social welfare) need to be reformed, then you think they need to be reformed. If pay is cut (including as part of a work hours reduction) then pensions would come down with it (thought the govt seems to want to avoid doing this for some reason).

    Pensions for people taken on now are a long term consideration. Mass long term unemployment hurts the long term productivity of its victims, hence reduces the taxable base into the future.

  19. @ Vincent,

    I presume Dave was joking, perhaps in mocking response to your over the top rhetorical question (which sounds very like you’re comparing public sector employees to Jews in 1930s Germany).

  20. @Vincent

    If you read the post, you will see he was attacking the former Chair of FAS for implying that public service workers spent 5% of the time doing nothing.

    Your indignation would have credibility but for your excusing Eric for implying Simpleton was a NAZI. The lesson for all is use smileys if attempting humour or just accept that PS workers are god’s annointed and move on.

  21. @Jane
    A study into pay gaps has already been done, you might have missed it: http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/1009/economy.html

    “The Economic and Social Research Institute has published a study which finds the pay gap between workers in the public and private sector is 26%.

    Last month the ESRI came to a similar conclusion based on factors such as education and qualifications.

    The ESRI found an average 26% earnings gap between the public and private sector in 2006.

    The Institute came up with largely the same result using a different methodology this time – job evaluations.”

  22. I think the comments at the end of Peter McLoone’s article sum up the situation and the mood of the general public. There will be very little sympathy for strikes in the upcoming weeks/months.

  23. @Vincent Byrne
    I presume Dave was joking as well.
    Public sector workers have been damaged by benchmarking, conservatism, secrecy and unaccountability. But they are morally destroying themselves by doing the following:

    – Never investigating political or clerical corruption
    – Never leaking details of political or clerical corruption
    – Cooperating with the government to cover up same
    – Travelling with rest of elite on Fas gravy train
    – Doing their best to frustrate FOI request to protect their institutions,
    which also contributed to cover-up of corruption
    – Being bought off with benchmarking when all of the above was going on
    – When corruption destroyed the economy continued to negotiate with government that caused collapse.
    – leadership shocked when ruthless FFatcats turn out to be ruthless FFatcats

    Their behaviour over FOIs has antagonised the media and the media are right. It’s public money – we have a right to see how it’s spent and how decisions are made. But instead this happens:
    http://thestory.ie/2009/11/30/more-interesting-searches/

    If the public service want to redeem themselves they need to reveal the truth about FF/Developers/Bankers and their bailout at our expense – NAMA.

  24. @E65Bn plus economic costs & NO extra lending! Says:

    Many public servants would welcome whistle blowers legislation-especially those who are prevented by law from speaking out against their political masters(ie all civil servants)!
    You have to separate the political from the administrative in assessing policy decisions and outcomes.

  25. For info the following is contained in the code of conduct for civil servants:

    (d) all civil servants above clerical level (COS need to seek express permission from their department heads)are totally debarred from engaging in any form of political activity

    Civil Servants in cat (d) may not engage in public debate (eg letter writing to newspapers. contribution to TV or radio programmes) on politics.

  26. @ Vincent Byrne

    The evidence from several countries is that the whistleblower is usually the ultimate loser whether in the public or private sectors.

    Why not have public spending transparency?

    Put all public spending online with very limited exceptions.

    It certainly would be a big advantage internally to have cross-departmental expense totals rather than the current hodge-podge of FOI responses and PQs – – it usually gets to a time where partial data is issued because some departments don’t bother responding/digging for the requested information – – yes digging, after the huge sums spent on IT.

  27. @Vincent Byrne
    There is nothing to stop retired public servants – civil servants, gardai, public servants – speaking out about what they witnessed. They didn’t take away Ray Burke or Charles Haughey’s pension – they wouldn’t dare to take away their’s. There is nothing to stop public service unions from threatening immediate strike action if whistleblowers currently in service are threatened. There is absolutely nothing to stop public servants expressing their deep disquiet about corrupt government policy and decisions off the record to journalists which would let them know where to look. They haven’t done so and don’t look like doing so in the future.

    For decades of clerical abuse and political and financial corruption right up to the present public servants have remained silent. Even the retired ones. Their reaction to the present crisis has been to negotiate with the government not to oppose it’s immorality. Public servants have kept their heads down as NAMA – the €65Bn bail-out for developers and bank investors that will wreck the country – goes through.

    Perhaps most damningly of all, Roddy Molloy served as chairman of the IPA and no public objections were expressed by public servants. Like the church and FF you seem more anxious to protect your name and cover-up for the immoral within your own ranks than to confont them.

    I believe that this is terribly wrong and instead of waiting for whistle blowers legislation public service unions should issue a unilateral declaration – as their reparation for keeping silent about clerical abuse and political corruption – that the full might of their unions, and I assure you of the public, will stand behind public servants who expose corruption.

    If you want your good name back you’re going to have to fight for it.

  28. As John OHagan pointed out in his linked post above

    “Reform of work practices was required long before the present crisis and has nothing directly to do with the pay issue.”

    Peter McLoones piece borders on the ridiculous, and is almost entirely incidental to the real issue. The benchmarking scam also promised all those reforms. Of course nobody really took it seriously, and nobody should take the possibility of reform seriously now.
    If for no other reason but to undo that “crime” paycuts are needed. And that would only get salaries back to where the real pay cuts should start.

  29. @ Vincent B

    “Moderators
    ““Should public sector workers start wearing some form of identity so that it can be made easier to abuse them?”
    That would be quite convenient, actually.” DAVE
    THIS IS INCITEMENT.”

    As a PS worker, reading this kind of nonsense if embarrassing.
    The Headline for this posting is “Public Sector Reform”
    Can we get back to it?

    Al

  30. @Vincent Byrne
    Here is an illustration of the fate of one FOI request:
    http://thestory.ie/2009/12/08/nama-and-risk-reports/

    “On August 17 I sought the following information from the Department of Finance:

    1) A list of all cost-benefit analyses, impact reports or preparatory reports that have been carried out by the Department in relation to the proposed National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). Please can you list the title of the document, its date, and by whom it was written.

    2) A list of all cost-benefit analyses, impact reports, or preparatory reports that have been carried out by people or companies working on behalf of, or at the request of the Department, in relation to the proposed National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). Please can you list the title of the document, its date, and by whom it was written.

    I received my acknowledgment as standard, which was followed up with an email. The email said it was unlikely my request would be successful but if I wanted, I could be given information outside of my request. I went along with this and it resulted in this blog post on September 30. That’s in and around the 20 day limit under the Act.

    But I didn’t feel the information provided was sufficient, and I always wanted information should my request be refused. So I said I still wanted to proceed with my original request. The Department then took the date of my re-request as the initial date, thus giving them another 20 working days. This brought the result of the request into early November, despite an initial request in August.

    Numerous emails were sent, and replied to. The civil servants involved were “busy” with NAMA and it was taking longer than normal to reply to my request. Last week I had enough, and wrote an email seeking an internal review as my request was now a deemed refusal since the 20 day limit had expired. Today, December 8, nearly four months later, I got the reply.”

    The public looks for “cost-benefit analyses, impact reports or preparatory reports” on a €54 Bn project. Was this unreasonable? After 4 months all they very grudgingly get is a list of what reports were done. Shocking and disgraceful in my opinion.

  31. @capsubsidy. Yes. I think you’ll find a number of references to those studies in my comment.

    My point is precisely to object to statements like yours that once ‘a study has been done,’ no further need for discussion or debate is necessary.

  32. @Vincent Byrne
    Actually it’s worse than I thought. Obviously Mr Sheridan knew it was unthinkable the public would be given the cost benefit analyses on a €54 Bn project. All this wrangling was over giving him the list of those that were done. Astounding.

  33. @ Jane Gray Says:

    December 8th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Jane. I am sorry I missed this post earlier, as I think it provides one of the most insightful assessments of the public/private sector pay debate that I have seen.

    The inherent discrimination against women workers, and the chronic undervaluation of their roles, is of course a factor in the comparisons. It would be no surprise to find that there was a similar effect with regard to recent immigrant workers too.

    One study I saw, I’m sure there are others, from the DoJ in 2002 estimated that female average hourly earnings were 28% below male earnings, that the proportion of women employed in ‘home duties’ was over 35%, compared to 0.3% for men, and that 22% of men in employment were in managerial or administrative roles, while for women in employment it was under 12%.

    And behind all this is that in the current debate the ‘magic bullet’ is aimed at the heart of the interests of all workers, with public sector workers set against private (overpaid), private sector workers in Ireland set against private sector workers overseas (uncompetitive, aka overpaid), and employed set against the unemployed (all sorts of misplaced epithets, but all amounting to anything is too good for them).

    There is a theme here. A relentless, unjustified, unscientific campaign to set each set of workers against each other.

  34. @E65Bn plus economic costs & NO extra lending

    The unions are finished.

    Unions by their nature are established to impede competition and secure conditions and pay for the members which damage enterprises and exclude other workers from the jobs market.

    Public sector unions compound the insult to the private economy by conspiring with their paymasters to enrich each other at our expense. Our businesses are undermined by high taxes, excessive bureaucracy, restrictions of trade and wholesale interference in the economy by the government. All this is designed to wring money from the private sector in order for our immoral government to indulge its Socialistic fantasies.

    The real economy is being smashed at the moment and as our crazed leaders borrow E500m per week to pay PS wages and Social Welfare we stand frozen in the middle of the road in front of the onrushing truck like a dazed rabbit.

    The result will the end of Ireland as a free country and a future for our people of bitter debt peonage. Our new masters will simply marginalize Ireland and revenge themselves on us for our temerity in the matter of FDI. The majority of us will end up back in a European version of the British empire as landless serfs. Our Dail will sit only to rubber-stamp Eurolaws and to put down revolt.

  35. I actually think FF are to be congratulated on this U-turn! They reveal how shallow the unions can be, well we all are!, and yet they get plaudits for sticking it to their social partners! Very clever politics and they need that to be able to enact any fiscal policy.

    @ Mokabaybob
    On the contrary! The fight has just begun. There will be leaks from good union members into the MSM that will embarrass the executive for the mext decade or so! Loyalty is a two way street. Unions are established to force through reforms without the need to follow extreme violence! They are a political answer to economic necessity. Not having wealthy union members means no one to buy goods. Of course they do distort the playing field, just as do cartels of every sort! FF has few socialistic fantasies! Obviously you are not Irish …. 😉 or you would know better!

    “The result will the end of Ireland as a free country and a future for our people of bitter debt peonage. Our new masters will simply marginalize Ireland and revenge themselves on us for our temerity in the matter of FDI. The majority of us will end up back in a European version of the British empire as landless serfs. Our Dail will sit only to rubber-stamp Eurolaws and to put down revolt.”

    Sadly you have that right! Sovereignty belongs to those with courage to fight for it! Freedom is earned!

  36. Jane

    Quite right!

    PS office holders, we never “worked”, are better educated and motivated than in the private sector. But there is massive inefficiency, just in the way work is organized. Lest we forget, there is competition to get into the PS and the “benchmarking” was an attempt to keep vital staff in place.

    There is an economic cost to stupidity and it is stupid to blindly criticise people, mainly women, who actually out perform their private sector colleagues.

    Competition? We also may have been guilty of creaming off the top, also. Many PS tasks are better performed by temporary workers in the private sector. The impact of the web has passed the PS by as no one in the PS home works nor do we educate students in the main, reducing establishment costs, inc salaries, by this productive device. Unions can be luddite. I wish for a more focussed debate on PS reform other than stupidly bashing them.

  37. Vincent Byrne

    I seem to be an exception! Does that make me exceptional? ;-/ I am retired. How many PS workers have been dismissed for blowing a whistle?

    I went to the PAC only because they asked for volunteers. But afterwards I found my colleagues saying I was gay, mad etc (apologies to the LGBT folks, I mean these pin heads sought to disparage me!) by my “colleagues”. Coventry is a pleasant English country town ….

    Loyalty has a price…….. I no longer thought that I could allow lies and falsehoods. Not a good type for the PS sadly! I was told that “others were honourable, if not honest”. The implication being that I was dishonourable but honest! There is a source for this and it also reached out into the Gardai and ensured that a murder case was not presented against a priest. All in the name of good governance. Makes me wonder what BAD governance would look like!

  38. @James Conran

    You are a saintly man.

    You will never make it in the PS nor elsewhere. More’s the pity. Sharing is communist philosophy or worse, Jesuitical! All we need to do is to recognise that we are the same and that labels are there to enable us to be divided and rules by the plutocratic!

  39. E65Bn plus economic costs & NO extra lending!

    You are a truth teller.

    Gardai have some special standing to seek warrants etc. Anyone may investigate corruption but only a judge can authorize entry search etc. Gardai and Revenue etc do have powers of arrest and of some temporary detention. But not everyone will go “knock for knock” as I was told by one Segeant hiya Philip!, (probably now a Super!) was my ultimate protection, when I was “anonymous”.

    In other words, CJH had everyone in thrall as he had access to some very hardmen. He threatened mutilation and death to those who threatened not to go along with him. As we know, he had access to revolvers and some interesting people. He may even have been compromised into Steakknife. The Gardai can lie on oath like the best but they have a sense of decency that means they will look after those who do right. Even if it means the use the same tactics as others. They are, believe me, of my own knowledge, very aware of who confessed and who did not. Only by being a unified force do the Gardai exist to be effective.

    Ultimately, living together peacefully means accepting some imperfections. We now know that means sacrificing our children to kiddie fiddlers and our fiscal future to fraud merchants. Is it too high a cost?

    There is a perception that there is a justifiable need for extra legal action, but only because the PTB are inept. Vigilanteeism is going to fluorish if we are not careful. There are downsides to it! Think carefully! The film “V” is not all roses. We exist as a state because the alternative is worse. We respect the rule of law, but when it stops working, as with the American Revolution, or the War for Independence, the most extreme violence can be and all too often is, justified. Even the law recognizes that the gun may be all powerful as in the MacReady case in the 1920’s.

  40. I wonder what everyone here thinks about the government exempting pensions from cuts. I think it is madness!

  41. @ Garo
    Absolutely
    Always a sacred cow left untouched!

    Its the endebted that probably should be looked after, regardless of age!

    Al

  42. @ Pat Donnnelly re “Lest we forget, there is competition to get into the PS and the “benchmarking” was an attempt to keep vital staff in place”

    In correspondence with a local TD / Junior Minister and querying the methodology and rationale for PS benchmarking I asked if he could provide me with detail concerning the numbers of middle ranking to senior civil servants (AP and above) that had voluntarily left the Civil Service early for work in the private sector over various specified years (given, as you note above, that part of the would-be rationale for benchmarking was that people were leaving and would continue to leave if salaries weren’t adjusted upwards). Guess what? No such figures were available. Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised. I’d bet Jim O’Leary wouldn’t be too surprised either….

  43. @ Tom
    Perhaps it may have been viewed that those with unique skills could have set up in the private sector and charged alot more for their services?

    Al

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