05 June 2008

Seen at passport control

Queuing at passport control on entry to the UK you see two signs: one saying that if you try to assault a member of the Immigration or Customs staff you will be liable to arrest and punishment. A second goes something like this 'Please remove your passport from its holder. This will save time at the counter.' To me this is quite sad. It reflects the low expectations that the British governing class has for the public, the contempt the public has for the government (and the justice system), and the wide gap between the two.

Society is too complex for most ordinary people to have anything much to say about how particular social and environmental goals should be achieved. But where we can contribute is in coming to agreement on the outcomes that we want to see. If we had policy whose goals were expressed in terms of meaningful outcomes then public participation in formulating it would be greater. We could all be part of the policymaking process. The actual achievement of our goals would, under a Social Policy Bond regime, be contracted out to the market. But there would be buy-in to public policy, and a closing of the gap between government and the people.

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