Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The sinking lid is back

During the 90's, the government maintained a "sinking lid" policy on public spending, whereby departmental budgets were never increased for inflation, resulting in an effective cut in real spending. The public service was expected, in the words of The Wire, "to do more with less". The result was that they did less, and worse, with overpaid consultants hired to fill the gaps, and vital infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals left to decay.

You'd think that after that experience, the "sinking lid" would be recognised as the stupid idea it is. But now its officially back. National's response to its (partly self-induced, through tax-cuts) "decade of deficits" is a decade of decay. I guess they're not planning on being in power when the bill for that comes due.