The NZPA has revealed that Ministrial Services is employing fewer people on higher pay under the new National/ACT government than it did under the Labour-led government last year.
David Farrar is spinning this as great news, they’ve cut the number fo people the Government is employing ‘hurrah’. Without a trace of irony, he says the higher pay is justified because “the hours are bloody long in the Beehive!” Hmm, maybe they need to bring in some more staff.
Vernon Small, meanwhile, tries to drum up a mini-scandal by playing up the higher pay angle. I read the article at a cafe with a table of Lefties, showed it to them and the response was resigned shakes of the head and grunts that said ‘well, at least the media’s pulling the same silly shit on the new government too but can’t we have something decent instead?’
Frankly, both Farrar and Small’s arguments stem from dumb premises – Farrar’s that the Government employing people is bad, Small’s that the Government paying people high salaries is bad. If we want good government, we need to employ people and we need to pay enough to get good people but, of course, we want value for money too – so, there’s a good level of staff numbers and pay that’s more than zero and less than infinity. Given that, simply assuming it’s a good thing to cut the number employed or a bad thing to pay them more, without looking deeper to whether either of those decisions is going to deliver better value-for-money government, is flawed and lazy.
But, more than that, who gives a damn? We’re talking two dozen jobs gone and less than $10 million a year in wages employing 150. The government employs quarter of a million people and spends $7 million an hour, 24/365. It makes and enforces the rules that govern the lives of 4.25 million people and a $160 billion economy. Surely, there are bigger things that Small, if not Farrar, can be talking about.