Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The State is Fashionable Again

The state is fashionable again. Government played a blinder and saved us all from capitalist Armageddon. While as relieved as the rest of you that we appear not to be melting-down, I worry about effect all this will have on the new consensus. Previously, virtually everyone was of one mind that the state had gotten too big and couldn't deliver the kind of social change we all wanted. Today, it feel like the `activist state' is back on the political menu, indeed as a Special of the Day.

As someone who has always felt ambivalent about the state, I currently feel on the back-foot. The silver lining in all this for me is that this could be, as Rod Schwartz was saying last week in the Guardian, this could be the big chance for the social economy. People currently don't trust the private sector, not, in many cases should they. And the state continues to deliver mediocrity, in the main. The social economy - which is, at its best, human-scale, trustworthy and responsive, should experience a lift.

But whatever you say, it does feel like the world has changed. The state did (as it should in extreme times) ride to the rescue. My fear is that just because the state came in to sort the banks means that its got to get stuck into all parts of the economy.

And that public services rather than being opened up remain failing monoliths, safe from the influence of market-forces, even when it is patently obvious, as in the case of nearly all services for people with learning-disabilities, that the state does far too much and keeps hold of too much of the money for its own projects and services.

For many people with disabilities this will continue to be a personal disaster.

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