The surveillance society is in full flood. We are more watched than ever. We have to live under an ever larger array of regulations and laws, governing how we park, where we drive, what rubbish we throw away, how much tax we pay, and what we think and say. Even the most law abiding find it increasingly difficult to keep up with all the laws you have to obey. It is a compliance society with a box ticking culture.
Much of it is as ineffective as it is oppressive. Making everyone xerox copies of passports and gas bills before undertaking simple transactions does not stop well funded big time crooks from operating. Setting and enforcing tight speed limits does not stop accidents which are often caused by something other than excessive speed. Picking on individuals for saying the wrong things and going in for public denunciation does not stop all nasty thoughts. All this and the rest does spawn ever larger bureaucracies, and makes it more difficult for the energetic to do things that might make life better.
The need to control public spending will reinforce the mood to sweep away more of the needless bureaucracy. We have no need of unelected reigonal government, as we have often agreed on this site. An incoming government needs to look at the satrapies of the public sector, the large quangos, and cut them down to size. It needs to simplify the tax system drastically, by removing taxes that raise very little and making the principal taxes more straightforward – lower rates and no reliefs.
In areas like education and health, more of the money needs to go to the individual schools, surgeries and hospitals. There should be more diveristy and choice, less central control and fewer instructions, advice and guidance from Whitehall.
Every facet of government activity should b e looked at to see what contribution it is making to better services, to sensible regulation or to transfers of income to the less well off. If it is not making a decent contribution to one of those, and providing good value, there is no need of it.
Individuals want access to medical care when and where they want it. They want to be able to choose a good school for their children. They want their rubbish collected regularly, roads to be able to drive on and decent care for the disabled – all at a sensible price. If the government tightens the surveillance, keeps on increasing the complexity of comnpliance, raises the taxes and delivers poor services, they should expect a big backlash against them.