Archive for 4 octubre 2011

In this context “social” means the whole social spectrum: education, health care, social care, police, etc., in short, all those areas that we in Europe have come to believe are citizens’ rights that should be guaranteed by the State.

Cutting social expenses is how most governments are reacting today to the budget deficit problem. And to be honest, this provides quick results. These cuts have another advantage: although they may affect a certain number of voters, why should we care?  Most of those affected are public workers anyway, and we all know that they are not exactly the most cost-effective workers on earth, don´t we? So, the logic follows, the effect on the rest of the population/voters will be minimal or even positive.

But maybe we should consider the medium and long term effect of those cuts. If social care processes remain unchanged, the logic says that, by reducing inputs, the output will be negatively affected. This is true unless, miraculously, the till now inefficient public worker suddenly becomes efficient and maintains the previous output. As I do not believe in miracles of that kind, this reaffirms my conviction:  there will be a reduction of the output.

A reduction of the output is immediately felt in some of those services. Probably that is the reason why we have seldom heard of cutting the police force. But there are other services in the social menu in which the reduction in output will be felt mostly in the medium or long term.  But since we won’t have to worry about that until the next election, who cares?

If we stand by today’s care processes while cutting inputs, the health of the population will be affected in the long run; there will be fewer resources for prevention because acute problems will absorb the remaining resources. The same goes for education; teachers will dedicate their efforts to the brightest of the class, leaving behind those less naturally gifted, thus reducing the average level of
education in the population as a whole. And so forth and so on.

If our leaders could for a moment think about their constituency and not about getting re-elected, then maybe they would realize the obvious: there are no shortcuts. The only way of reducing cost while maintaining the quantity and the quality of the output is by re-engineering the processes in which social services are provided. But then that requires leadership and time!


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