Great news! The British government seem to be serious about
reducing their dangerous budget deficit.
More great news! The proof of the their seriousness is that
they have realised that they cannot cut their deficit without cutting the
number of the bureaucrats who interfere so much in our business and private
Even better news! They have also realised that they cannot
do this without amending the employment laws they have forced on us for years,
which make it so hard for us to get rid of surplus employees. Now that finally they
see the difficulties for themselves – and face paying the bill for themselves –
they propose amending the law.
Logically, this should lead on to the best news of all.
Logically, they should see that a law that they now realise is wrong was always
wrong. Logically, they should see that it is only fair that it should apply the
same law to public and private sectors alike. Logically, this means that the
change in the law will ease the burden on business as much as it does on the
Logically... but when did government’s relationship with
business ever have anything to do with logic? There are, of course, no
proposals to treat the public and private sectors equally.
We get so tired of writing about the ways in which the
government makes one law for itself and another law for everyone else that we
wonder if there is any point complaining about this latest example. Then, on
reflection, this is exactly what the government wants – people so accustomed to
double standards that they cease to complain.
It would be all too easy to go to the other extreme and
establish a “Hypocrisy of the Week” competition dedicated to the relationship
between rulers and ruled.
The problem is that once a week would not be enough. Having
read about the employment law double standard, we go straight on to read about the
government department that creates fire regulations which is itself
in breach of those regulations. The resulting fine for a private sector business
would have wiped that business out. The consequence for the public sector?
Zilch. (Oh, the wonders of Crown
Then we have the debt double standard. It is relatively easy
to get out of your debts to other private citizens, ultimately by declaring
bankruptcy, but much harder to get out of debts to the state, such as repayment
of student loans. Now whether bankruptcy laws should be more or less lenient
than they are is a legitimate subject for another debate, but surely the most
basic notion of justice demands that whatever standard is adopted should apply
to all equally.
The weakness of our system is that the very people charged
with defining and enforcing those basic notions of justice are as often as not
the defendants in the moral courts in which they are also the judge and jury.