Friday, November 24, 2006

Do you think Rousseau would like this?

Blair's new social contract should be viewed with scepticism. My hunch is this is little more than a publicity stunt pledging "a new more explicit contract between the state and the citizen on agreed public outcomes" but failing to change much of what is already in place.

The two key policies mooted are "that a local health authority will only offer a hip replacement if the patient undertakes to keep their weight down." This seems fair but how it can be assessed and implemented will be another matter. It will certainly victimize those who are already suffering and is a very nannying approach. Why cannot Doctors' simply advise patients that they must diet and exercise regularly without the dead hand of the state drafting a condescending contract for these people to sign? Due to my failure to slim I have been a bad citizen.

Another measure though seems far more intrusive - "Parents might also be asked to sign individually tailored contracts with a school setting out what the parents must do at home to advance their child's publicly-funded education." Whilst clearly parents are responsible for the education of their children how the hell does the state think it can draw the lines? Clearly when children behave badly something is wrong but do we want the metaphorical parents bullying dad John Reid and the insane mother, Blair, telling people what to do as part of their social contract? You must have Shakespeare in the home, play Mozart and whip the blighters if they don't attend school. What is provided in exchange is improved police response times.

The social contract should stick to states providing an agreed supply of public services and order given to the public from taxation. Obviously when citizens transgress certain laws they should be arrested or dealt with appropriately. Politicians should also respond to their constitutional obligations and should be held to account accordingly. The idea that you can draw up guidelines for parenting as a social contract is repugnant even though we probably realise certain approaches will be better than others. Yet Blair declaring from on high declaring what we should do (in a pseudo-contract) stinks.


zola said...

I am enjoying your site Toby. may i link and put your Janus type wisdom up for my thousands of readers?

By the way this "social contract" stuff. I agree that it is very suspicious as most things from Bliar.

What worries me is the new contract.

You do this and i will give you that kind of thinking. In this society of risk ( having ) I ask just where did BEING get left behind?

Toby Lewis said...

Are you getting all heideggerian Zola? Feel free to put a link up to my site.
I'll respond in more detail a bit later.

Chris said...

In the immortal words of Pat Sharps' Fun House theme tune: it's outrageous.

zola said...

Well Toby : You tempted me with big H stuff ( strange that Marburg school)and I have risen to yer bait. See me blog today.

Szwagier said...

When I hear the word 'contract' I reach for my sick bucket.

Government is not a business, and I am not a customer. I do not 'choose' to buy their services, I have them thrust upon me, and I don't like it. They can shove their contracts where the antisocial Sun don't shine.

zola said...

What about "Compact"? Come on you know you are really a Noble Savage Szwagi

Toby Lewis said...

I'm with Zola on this one, Szwag, the social contract tradition is highly interesting it's the modern Blairite manifestation that is a bit creepy.

zola said...

But Toby be fair to ole Szwai here.
You are noble.
I am mere savage.
szwagi has feet in both camps

anticant said...

John Reid? Shakespeare?? Mozart??? You must be joking. Has he even HEARD of them?