Tuesday, May 16, 2006

New inquiry into Scottish 'tsars'

From the Scotsman:
"AN INVESTIGATION is to be launched into the increasing number of powerful and costly "tsars" being appointed in Scotland, The Scotsman has learned.

Ministers are determined to tackle the burgeoning numbers of tsars, inspectors and ombudsmen amid concerns over their influence and spiralling costs."
One example of the factors contributing to 'spiralling costs' would be the fact that the Children's Tsar, Kathleen Marshall, had not limits set on what she could spend. The suggested solution? A "tsar's tsar" to tackle the problem of all these tsars. No, really:
"(T)he investigation, to be headed up by what has been described as a "tsar tsar", has been condemned by opposition politicians as a "cosmetic exercise", which comes amid Executive plans to create five more tsars."
For instance, McConnell is set to appoint a new human rights tsar - thereby reinforcing the impression that maths teachers tend not to have a particularly well-developed sense of irony.

Do you think it'll take the appointment of a tsar's tsar's tsar before someone twigs that this is getting a bit silly?

Not being a minimal statist, I'm normally inclined to defend public spending - but they don't half make it difficult sometimes. Another absurdity I heard just the other day from a friend who teaches in a Catholic secondary in Glasgow is that all teachers in the denominational sector can get a day off to attend a workshop on the topic of 'decoding' the Da Vinci Code. Apparently this is in case the ideas in the book are passed on to pupils as if they were fact, thereby damaging Catholic education.

If you're surprised that Glasgow City Council thinks it is appropriate to provide remedial education for Catholic teachers with learning difficulties at the council tax-payer's expense, you really shouldn't be.

Update: I trust the above will go at least some way to answering Chris Dillow's query, "Is extra public spending unproductive in Scotland?" Just a tad. Still, at least it undermines to some extent the national stereotype of the parsimonious Scot; our Executive spends money like a drunken sailor who's just won at the bookies.

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