Articles tagged: economics

It’s still true: you can’t eat money

August 23, 2009

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.” – Cree Saying. This quote, possibly the biggest cliché in the environmental literature, inspired Jared Diamond’s seminal work “Collapse“. But humans seem to succumb to boredom fairly quickly, so the real crisis, which is after all about something as mundane as food, has slipped off of the radar. The global meltdown of the banks, a grand Greek drama of the folly of the gods... More

Kicking National Express was a good call from Labour

July 5, 2009

First, let me apologise for foolishly assuming that National Express, the (privatised) UK bus company, chaired until last week by well-connected Richard Bowker, was clever enough to engineer a de facto merger with Virgin Trains/Stagecoach (Thus passim) and thus recreate a large part of the old subsidised British Rail monopoly under the guise of privatisation. I also apologise for stating the National Express was profitable: it was, until it grossly overbid for the UK’s East Coast Railway franchise. With decent rolling stock a clear run from London to Edinburgh and... More

Industrialising the service sector is a false economy and fatal in the public sector

June 8, 2009

Alistair Darling has demanded further £15bn efficiency savings through more IT-led front-office/back-office public-service designs. In the accompanying Treasury report, these totals are justified by ‘proxies, assumptions and estimates’, not evidence. Indeed, the evidence points firmly the other way; the further industrialisation of public services will inevitably lead to higher costs and worse services. By John Seddon. A version of this article appears in Public Finance, June 2009. The folly of industrialisation began in the private sector. Advances in telephony led companies to centralise telephone work in call centres, taking advantage... More