Not everything is about money

I’ve just seen an article about a local council overspending on agency workers for it’s children’s services by £865,000. Schools, the NHS, all sorts of businesses are dependent on agency workers. No one seems to see them as obviously the most expensive option. Why are they obviously the most expensive option? Well, not only are you paying the worker, but you are also paying a fee or percentage to the agency as well.

I appreciate that it is getting harder and harder to find staff that are willing to work under current conditions, but I can assure you that is only nominally to do with wage rates. It is predominantly to do with unrealistic expectations that employers have of the time and energy that their workforce are supposed to give to their work. Hours are too long, paperwork is too extensive, the scope and detail that are expected are completely unrealistic, out of hours work is excessive, too much time is tied up in meetings that serve no useful purpose, holidays are too short… I could go on.

But the biggest issue of all is that workers are not respected by their employers, neither are they trusted. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be safeguards to help encourage professionalism, I’m saying that when you have good staff you should respect and trust them. And if you really want to save money, you need to make sure that you employ enough people to do the job and cover maternity leave, annual leave, emergencies… even if it looks wasteful on paper, I can guarantee that in terms of mental health (employers and staff) and work place atmosphere, it will pay dividends.

Not everything is about money, even when people say it is.

Spooning – Part 1

I’m not sure if you’ve heard about Spoon Theory (if you haven’t I strongly recommend you read this: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/), it’s a brilliant way of explaining how difficult it is for people with health problems to do even basic, everyday activities. I personally think Spoon Theory can be expanded to the whole population.

If you assume everyone is given the same number of spoons at the start of the day, then it would be safe to assume that everyone would have the same amount of energy etc. to get them through the day. But, would it be right to assume that the playing field is level? I don’t think so. It isn’t for anything else, so why should it be for this?

So, what’s my point? I suppose it is that we all have different levels of energy, drive, health, etc. We also all have different things that we feel we need to achieve. If we use spoons as our unit of measurement we could say that we all have a different number of spoons at the start of the day, and we use those spoons in different ways… kinda seems self evident. But I’m trying to get an understanding of why some people get involved in activities of resistance (personal politics) and other people don’t.

In British society today the people at the bottom of the pile use up lots of spoons in just worrying about how they are going to survive. These are the people that the ConDem government believe are expendable because they have the least to lose. They have no security and their focus is predominantly very limited. This is one of the reasons they seldom get involved in politics, they don’t have the energy (spoons) to get involved. Another reason is they have been told they are too stupid to understand (that is someone else stealing their spoons), and they don’t have the vocabulary to get involved (there’s another spoon gone).

But there are people who do get involved in politics even though they are in the “few-spoon” situation, this is because they don’t worry about how they are going to survive. This gives them a few more spoons to play with. Some of them even borrow spoons from the future, but you can’t do that for long. They don’t worry for a whole variety of reasons, they have friends they feel they can rely on, they don’t care what happens to themselves, they feel that what they are dong is more important…

So, people who do have the vocabulary, who haven’t been told they’re stupid, what about them? Well, distraction is a great way of using up spoons. One of the biggest distractions is bringing up children. If you’re a parent, you know that your children will steal every spoon you’ve got (mostly in the nicest possible ways), finding time and energy for anything other than your family is more than a little difficult. It’s made doubly so by insanities like having to choose which school you want your child to go to.

This imposition of unnecessary choice is one of the great ways the successive governments have distracted ordinary people from being involved in politics at any level. Instead of making people choose schools, they should have been putting money into making all schools, and colleges, great to work in and great to learn in. But that would have been giving people spoons (including those very shiny, confidence spoons), and that has never been the plan.

There are a myriad other distractions, to keep people away from thinking about how they are using their spoons and whether they are using them to the best effect. Thousands of ways of using up spoons to keep people incapacitated. But personal is political, even if it is unaware. Choosing not to get involved is a political act. It is handing that power to someone else and trusting them to make decisions in your best interest.

Who do you trust to use your spoons wisely?