Times: "Ruthless approach to spending needed"

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by soleil, Jul 8, 2009.

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  1. witsend

    witsend War Hero Book Reviewer

    Whilst IMO the article gives further stroking material to the Gloom Britain brigade of armchair defence analysts & chancellors of the exchequer, the timeline link is interesting.
  2. I'm not having a dig Witsend, but I'm curious as to what it is you actually want?

    Do people express an opinion about current affairs, in the current affairs section- or are they only allowed to if it is positive? Or perhaps you're bored by current affairs and we should ditch that forum?

    Clearly you're not a newby, and their questions can be infuriating, so let's get rid of that forum too. If you want it to just be a random dit spinning site then surely you could just stay in Lils?

    "Google Strategists" and "armchair defence analysts" is pretty patronising don't you think? Sure, people spout off b*ll*cks all the time but you don't have to read it. Equally, when it comes to defence matters, it's not like we're all amateurs. Most people have served, some are still serving- so you've got the users' point of view from the sharp end. Then we've got Whitehall bods and people in joint billets who have their point of view. Even, God forbid, brown jobs and crabs. I know it can get a bit saloon bar at times, but so can most conversations- real or virtual.

    Anyway, interesting timeline, as you say. Harumphing from the leather armchair mode //OFF// :wink:

    Where's the damn thumright gone?
  3. It's interesting how they categorise pro and anti to get a numerically balanced timeline where many of their anti points are fairly small beer in comparison with the pro.

    The article has some valid points, and essentially in the UK we need to make some pretty significant decisions, we're either a player and fund accordingly, or we're not. The Defence Review green paper published yesterday might suggest a direction on that. It talks almost exclusively about the security strategy and doesn't associate defence with the execution of foreign policy at all.

    A gendarmerie posture for HM Armed Forces is advocated by many contributors to RR, but personally it doesn't appeal.

    Yes, some fairly brutal spending decisions need to be made, but they need to be preceded by some fairly fundamental decisions about Britain's position in the international community.
  4. As a nation and top member within NATO we are ranked at 70th by percentage of military expenditure (GNP) at 2.4% (2005 stats). France is at 61st & US at 27th (considering the amount of GNP the US has from its many corporations and trading this is a fantastic percentage for military spending) If you consider also that we rank 4th for military spending (following U.S, China, France) it is genuinely odd to consider our low % spend on GNP..

    Surely an option is to raise this to even 2.6? Assuming there are genuine reasons why the majority of our military projects/divisions should remain? I remain slightly troubled to find a solid reason why we couldn't, though would like to hear other thoughts on this.
  5. The year the Berlin Wall fell, Britain was spending 4.4% of GDP on Defence

    Currently, we are spending 2.3% of GDP on Defence.

    If we had kept the rate at the 4.4% that was perfectly affordable when we had the Fantasian Army peering over our garden wall we would currently be spending £65 Billion on defence instead of the current rather pathetic £34 Billion.
  6. I see two main aspects of the debate, the first being to make the case for further spending, and the second being where the extra spend might come from.

    Frankly it looks as if we've lost the first of those, the majority of the media reporting seems to position around using the funds available to fight todays war, and stick our heads in the sand about potential future wars. Until the public debate becomes about increasing the budget we're left with the political infighting amongst the services that we're being treated to at the moment. Unfortunately people do see some of the big headline costs of some of these projects and question that, although in practice the headline figures are amortised across the life of the project so don't mean big sums in practice. The deterrent is a good example, the £25Bn budget will be roughly £1Bn per annum, that doesn't of course consider the cost of the manpower, and associated training burden, and of course the force structure that we have to build around the SSBNs, but it indicates how the subtlety of debate is lost on even one of the more up-market publications.

    Once you've made the case then you need to identify where the cash is to come from. There are significant opportunities for efficiency inside MoD. The governance process is so overbearing, intrusive and expensive that some liberalisation of the internal economy would make a huge difference.

    the buy american mantra is likely to be wheeled out, tired though it is. I know from bitter experience that actually making US kit fit for purpose leads to quite a lot of cost escalation. The catalogue price trotted out by the zealots is a bit like the cost of a Porsche, fine if you don't want seats or a steering wheel!

    I'm sure someone will come up with the simplistic overseas development budget, although I think it's unlikely that anyone will come up with a credible argument to support that.

    My own feeling is that the place to find cash is in the welfare budget. Recognising that a lot of that is already committed, state pensions, long term care of the elderly, young persons and vulnerable adults there is, I think quite a lot of potential in simplification and rationalisation. By simplifying and rationalising there should be an opportunity to reduce the cost of delivering welfare funding, that should also allow a more rigorous approach to disbursing the welfare budget.

    Once that cash is freed up then it's unlikely that Defence would be the only claimant on it.

    Not clear on what you're saying here. Have you been unable to find reasons not to, or haven't you?

  7. Simple solution: The Welfare State should be dismantled. It's turned into a self perpetuating monster and UK PLC now exist basically to finance the Welfare State.

    Other than the physically/mentally incapalbe of working… there should be a 5 year cap on the entitlement to claim benefits during a claimants life. The Yanks brought that system in and lo and behold, nearly all the long term benefit claimants promptly got off their arses and got jobs when the free money ran out.

    Benefits should also return to being earning related like in the old days: If ypu've worked and paid more in, you get more out. Never worked? Food stamps.
  8. I would disagree, but that's probably more about implementation than underlying philosophy. It's easy to wheel out trite simplistic answers, a bit more challenging to come up with ways that they might be effective.

    That isn't actually what you describe. How much of the welfare state would you want to dismantle? Do you include the NHS in that, do you include the state pension provision? do you include the state education system?

    It would certainly bring the tax bill down...

    Not out of the question, hence my point above about simplification, rationalisation and operating efficiencies.

    That gets down to a fairly fundamental question of our values as a nation. Are we a liberal democracy or not? If we're not, what do we want to be?

    Now you're introducing complexity, and that needs managed. How do you identify those that are, and are not, capable of working. How do you assess and monitor those near the boundaries of the definition who may drift from one side to the other over time? For some of those how do you incentivise them remaining as contributors rather than consumers?

    It's certainly an approach and might be worth consideration, but I refer to my previous point about how it's tracked, particularly for those who go in and out of the genuinely can't category over time. All more cost and complexity to manage.

    Again it might be worth considering, the causal nature of encouraging a black economy is likely to incur cost elsewhere so that would probably need balanced.

    Essentially the biggest flaw in your recommendations remains that we are already living in a liberal democracy. Defence competes for funds with other things, and politicians recognise that their policies need to be attractive to thde electorate or they won't get re-elected. I'm no fan of democracy, but to manage to introduce what you're suggesting would need a fairly thorough re-evaluation of what we, as a society, are here for.

    Personally I do think that there are some things that the state should provide, although I agree that it provides too much at the moment. I think that health provision could be scaled back quite significantly for example. I'd prefer to see a lot of the current direct funding being re-targeted and contingent on demonstrable effort and improvement.

  9. The FIRST duty of Government is Defence of the Realm.

    All these feel good social and welfare benefits would count for bugger all if the opposition are marching up Downing Street.
  10. Good insight on expenditure there- I agree that until the general public believe a case for future defence should prevail then we will see no further increase in the budget in the meanwhile. Perhaps once the public believes there is a genuine need for a fully operational and future-proof (well, as far as possible) defence involving the many current projects across the differing services then we may see enough pressure to warrant an increase in expenditure. It might happen yet, with all the controversy surrounding ‘inferior’ equipment in Afghanistan. Though, what has followed so far is cases of tit-for-tat between service chiefs for the better slice of the budget as if hoping to make up their monetary deficits by I.V from other services..

    Hmm, bit blurry I admit :p..
    I meant a solid reason why we shouldn’t look at increasing the percentage spend of GNP on defence, considering that other developed countries within NATO seem to find it possible/worthwhile. I wonder if it would be easier facilitated if we lessened our financial ties within the E.U? I’m no expert on our E.U policy but is it not true that we contribute vast sums of capital for investing in E.U member states? I’m sure there are vast areas we could be investigating for cutbacks rather than the single most important asset of a country, especially an Island nation! Anyone able to shed light on our E.U. ties?
  11. Come up with some arguments that convince an electorate that doesn't see a threat.
  12. witsend

    witsend War Hero Book Reviewer

    You have a dig if you want, I was pretty patronising. I'm not after anything and I never said anything about ditching forums or being bored. Everyone has there right to an opinion, but I just don't believe that some have complete possession of the facts/thinking of the Gov/MOD before posting an opinion. I do think that reading these threads your left with the impression that we're all doomed. This of course is only my opinion and not based on any facts.

    I shall scuttle out of CA's before Seadog catchs me and gives me into trouble for being out late at night when I should be tucked up in Lils. :wink:

  13. Well… for a starters, instead of being all fluffy and trying to pretend the Islamists are a our friends and it's just disparate groups with no central direction, the Government should point out that 95%+ of the plotters and bombers come from or are trained in Pakistan and the badlands of Afghanistan and we need to be killing them at source.

    For all their faults, the cousins have made the message to the American people simple and cogent - We can fight them here in the USA, or we can fight them in the sandy places. The American public seem to think that killing them 'over there' before they can kill us 'over here' is a very fine principle.
  14. I asked you to come up with something to convince the electorate, not just pick a single issue and preach a simplistic and irrelevant message.

    People don't see a threat, in part that's because those events that have hit the media haven't been all that credible and have affected handfuls of people. We had commemorations of the 7/7 bombings the other day and it had little media impact. When the electorate doesn't see the impact on the day to day and it's competing with everything else that they have to think about then it's not a priority.

    What matters to people is where the mortgage/ rent is coming from and everything that falls out from there. Realistically until the political parties make it real, it doesn't matter. And none of the three major parties are doing that.
  15. The current problem is clearly a mismatch between the funding the government supplies and the aspirations the government has.. To put it another way they do npay for the service they get, and as a result our defence capability is going to hell in a handcart.

    Part of todays problem is of course that Gordon has spent all the cash, and none of the savings he propmised have actually been made, sepent posts have been cut, showing the job can be done with less people, but no serpents have been allowed to swell the dole queques so all those redundant serpents are still on full pay effectively doing nothing.

    Actually sacking them would free up significant funds for both the services and other things like paying of some of Gordon's debt.

    But we need to go further, we administer too much and get little or no value for that administration. We need to cut non value added admin. I suspect there is perhaps as much as 20% of opuir present admin that could be binned with no one noticing (except the poor bastard that has been doing it). If we did this there would be funds to draw down our debt, cut taxes and extend need front line services.

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