About This Blog

The public should know all we can about the business of the decision makers that affect our lives, our wallets and our democracy. This is a record of my efforts to try and improve the levels of transparency and accountability within Sheffield City Council and others. To shine a light on how decisions are made and where the money goes. If I can also help others to find their own voice and influence along the way, then that is a bonus.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Not my Sunday Sermon, by Nigel Slack.

I considered calling this my Sunday sermon but, being an atheist that would be a little misleading. I also don't plan a long oration on the moral ills of our society or selves. The subject is certainly not theological but it is, I guess, about some of the attitudes and even ethics that have driven us to be more self focussed than society focussed of late.

The current narrative from government and the media is leading to an attitude amongst many people that any effort that does not produce something, in economic terms, is pointless and therefore not worthy. If you work on something that does not generate greater wealth for yourself, or, if you are not paid by someone to do a job that creates greater wealth for them, you are often considered less worthwhile, as a person, than those that do.

The government would have us believe, ably supported by the media, that Art is now an economy, that the Care Sector is an economy, that Education is an economy (they are supported in that particular myth by Universities that now resemble major corporations rather than seats of learning). Local Councils are manipulated, through shortage of funds, then by incentive payments, to develop only those things that bring 'economic benefit', real or imagined, based on private sector solutions and in ways that further the current economic theories that the market knows best.

Education, as a market, tells us every child is the same blank slate that can be trained to do anything. This is odd. We know that genetics affect our eye colour, hair colour, skin colour, height, health and even left or right handedness, then why not our brains capacity to learn. Could it be that the private sector doesn't want the education system to produce anyone that may step away from the 'correct' economic narrative? Typically those people that are labelled creatives are told they need to be businessmen too and offered training to make them so. They cannot just be creative and have that fostered by society, they have to make a product that can be sold or exploited by them or someone else.

Anything non productive is being left in a space where no-one wants to pay for it. Take my own example. Thirty five years of almost constant employment in business, post graduate management education, years of voluntary work in my twenties and thirties and latterly twenty years in a service industry. Now I've identified a role that, not only am I eminently qualified to do but about which I am passionate and which, I believe, is important to Sheffield as an economically challenged city.

Visit my 'The Public Interest' funding campaign

It's not a role that can be done through employment or by sponsorship of one organisation. That would compromise the independence that is vital to successfully doing what I do. I'm trying to raise the money to continue my work, full time, through public subscription. People who see what I do or read about what I do tell me it is a vital task in this age of corporate and big money lobbying, because I try to stand up for the public in general. They tell me I should carry on doing what I do because they don't have the time or the skills to do it like I do.

The trouble is, that apart from a few sterling silver souls that have been incredibly generous and contributed to my campaign, most people seem to think someone else will pay for it. Some have even commented that what I do is great but what will come out of it? There's the rub. What I do is not producing a product or any content that is economically exploitable and as such is deemed, by many, as less worthy than getting a 'proper job'.

I would like to be proved wrong and that people will support socially beneficial ideas, even if a little unorthodox but as someone without the economically approved acceptability of being employed by someone else, I am beginning to doubt it.

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