Polly: a light fisking
However, it's always worth pointing out our Pol's little foibles...
Drip, drip, drip. Day after day an insidious poison is fed into the nation's veins, spreading anger and cynicism about everything in the public sector. Nothing works, billions are wasted, public servants of every kind are pointless jobsworths feathering their nests and twiddling their thumbs.
Seriously, Pol, billions are wasted. Very little works well. And there are 646 "pointless jobsworths feathering their nests" in the Commons, just for starters.
With a full-time staff of 10, [the TPA] digs and delves to produce "facts" and "figures" designed to undermine trust in everything in the public sector.
Fuck me: for someone like Toynbee to put quotemarks around the words "facts" and "figures" is just hilarious—one only needs to browse the archives of the sadly defunct Factchecking Pollyanna to see why.
Next up, Polly lays into the TPA reports that purported to show that the public sector median pay was higher than that in the private sector.
[...] The private sector now has most of the unskilled work: most cleaners, carers, caterers, security guards, dinner ladies, porters and labourers. They once worked in the public sector, but are now outsourced—and so there are now five times more "elementary" jobs in the private sector.
And yet NuLabour has still managed to grow the public sector by about 500,000 in ten years: that's pretty fucking good going, eh?
Managers, professionals and skilled trades are paid an average of 70p more an hour in the private sector. However, the few remaining unskilled public workers are paid an average of 90p an hour more than their equivalents in the private sector.
But there must be a good reason for this, right?
Quite right too, since the minimum wage is below what a family can live on.
Really? And so what, Pol?
Please note Polly's sleight of hand here, and it's one that she always employs: she always assumes that someone on the minimum wage is having to support "a family". As far as Polly is concerned, single people without sprogs who don't earn above the minimum wage don't actually exist.
My first job, way back in 1997, paid me just over £12,000 (a little higher than the minimum wage, but not for long). It wasn't a fortune, but I was hardly destitute. I was, however, aware that I couldn't afford to have a family—even were I able to find someone stupid enough to bear my spawn. It's called "living within your means", Polly.
What's more, the taxpayer probably loses little since that extra for the lowest paid will be deducted from their tax credit entitlements.
I find it absolutely hilarious that Polly should be accusing the TPA of twisting the facts; especially since Polly, with all of her journalistic resources, apparently cannot be bothered to do some simple calculations...
(I should point out that you can considerably boost the income by assuming, say, a non-working partner and a small child, but my point about living within your means still stands. As such, I have calculated the below with all of my details, excepting my real salary.)
The current minimum wage is £5.73 per hour @ 40 hours per week @ 52 weeks per year = £11,918.40 income. An extra 90p per hour @ 40 hours per week @ 52 weeks per year = £1872 extra. So, total income of our "unskilled public workers" is £13,790.40 per annum.
Now, using this handy calculator, we can see that the tax credits to which they are entitled (assuming no dependents) is precisely fuck all. So, gross income remains at £13,790.40 per annum.
Now, let's do the same calculation for someone actually on the minimum wage. Ah, yes: they are entitled to £7.60 per week, or £396.03 per annum. Which, by my calculations, means that the taxpayer is worse off by £13,790.40 - (£11,918.40 + £396.03) = £1,475.97 per annum per worker.
Now, I am not making a moral judgement one way or the other about the salary, but the simple fact is, Polly, that if you are going to write an article about how people manipulate figures, then you had probably better do some research.
Next, she's decided to bang on about pensions...
True, the private sector is closing pensions—and the divide between the two will grow. But the answer is to beef up private pensions, as Labour's new system is attempting to do.
Riiiiight. So, Gordon's pension fund raid (waits for John B's rapid intervention) through ACT has not damaged private pensions in any way then? It has. Basically, Gordo has smashed a vase, and is now trying to glue it back together again. The twat.
Oh, and now she's on to local government non-jobs...
The TPA made much fun of Moray Council's advertisement for a "street football coordinator" (salary £19,887), expostulating: "This is unbelievable ... All you need is a few jumpers for goalposts and a ball."
The Sunday Herald investigated and hit back. The paper discovered that the real salary was half that, as it was part-time—and the council only paid £3,000 of it, with the police, fire brigade and local businesses paying the rest.
Um... The police and fire brigade are... erm... public sector organisations, are they not? So, can you tell me why, precisely, they don't count as public sector organisations for the purposes of this job? Polly? Pol? Hello?
Polly then points out that the job had a good impact. Great: I'm very happy. But that isn't really the point is it, Pol? You are supposed to be... [snigger]... attacking the TPA's figures, no?
Does public money get wasted? Of course it does, from failed IT schemes, to wasteful ID cards to ever-escalating Olympic costs. When £500bn is spent a year...
Make that nearer £620 billion this year, Polly...
... some schemes will fail, and some managers will empire-build. Eternal vigilance is needed.
Which is rather the role that the TPA fills, is it not, Pol? You know, scrutinising those apparent non-jobs? Bringing wastage into the public eye—you know, informing the public of how their money is spent and (quite possibly) wasted?
Or do the TPA behave too much like "rottweilers" for your taste, Pol, and not enough like outreach co-ordinators?
But at least the spending is pretty transparent, audited and scrutinised, whereas very little can be gleaned from public companies' minimal accounts on their wastages.
Who gives a crap, Polly? "Public companies" do not take money from me under pain of fines and imprisonment: can you not see the basic fucking difference, you idiot?
And if the depredations of the TPA ensure that public servants scrutinise the accounts even more carefully, then surely that is a good thing? After all, Polly, they are spending the tax money of rich and poor alike and, I think, rich and poor alike have the right to know where their £600 billion goes, don't you?
And here's Polly's killer line...
One thing we do know: the TPA is selective with its figures.
Aaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahaha! Polly... hahaha!... Polly's... haha!... Polly's criticising someone else for being selective with their figures! Aaaahahahahaha! Woohahahaha! Haha! Ha ha...
It has also refused to attack the tax avoidance the Guardian's Tax Gap investigation has revealed, which defrauds us all.
You do know that despite making a £304 million profit last year, the Guardian Media Group paid not one penny in corporation tax, right? In fact, you do know that GMG actually engineered the accounts to ensure that it got an £800,000 rebate, yes?
How many unskilled public sector workers would that little chunk pay for, Pol?