The Bloated Bureaucracy
Navigating government services is becoming increasingly difficult. The growing problems are a result of constant meddling and a bureaucracy that can never match the open market.
It's a target rich environment if you're looking for examples of government failure.
And while it's fair to lay some blame on the current mob, there are some very big problems that no government has been able to solve.
When they do try, the new intervention often makes things worse. After a while it's put in the 'too hard' basket and any future plans merely tinker at the edges.
That's the 'be seen to be doing something' approach that ultimately leads to systemic failure.
My Spanish tutor gave me a phrase for it yesterday - atar con alambre.
It literally translates as 'tying with wire' but means to have a solution that provides a temporary fix but no long-term answer to the problem.
The temporary fix in such cases is a political one, meant to buy time in order to get past the next election.
Which leads me to the aged care system.
If ever there was an area that has seen myriad announcements for very little gain it would be aged care.
That's not to criticise the facilities. Some of them are just amazing .
No, what I am referring to is the bureaucracy inherent in such a system.
I've spoken with people trying to navigate their way through it recently and the tales are horrific.
The constant assessments, the buck passing, the specialist consultations and the paper shuffling is just extraordinary.
Branches of bureaucracy don't communicate effectively with one another and many provide incomplete advice available only over the telephone.
It took one caring daughter over 36 minutes just to have the call answered yesterday and then over two hours of tooing and froing to find out what was causing the particular issue.
During that conversation she was told multiple times 'everything was in order' despite the department refusing to release funds to pay the facility provider.
Pointing this out repeatedly fell on deaf ears . It was only through sheer dogmatic determination that the young woman discovered the cause of the bureaucratic bottleneck.
It was created by one administrative error and yet was unable to be fixed by the group that made it. The frustrated daughter was eventually referred off to another agency where the saga began again.
In-home care can also be a nightmare to navigate and it can take many months to obtain the assistance services that a particular person needs.
In some respects we should be pleased that these services are available at all. They cost taxpayers a lot of money and, like the NDIS, the providers seem to charge much more than you'd pay from your own pocket.
I can get a gardener and a cleaner for half the price the taxpayers get billed under an aged care package.
And therein lies the nub of Australia's problems.
Too many people are reliant on government. That's not just the elderly but those who make a living from providing services to or for government.
Some Canberra 'crat decides a cleaner is worth $70 an hour and all the sanctioned providers bump the prices up. It's the same with child care or the political staffers (and politicians) hotel allowance during sitting weeks.
The minute the rebate is lifted, the prices rise to match it.
We'd be so much better off having a voucher system of services that would allow an individual (or family) secure the services they need through the competitive market.
They could then prioritise through need and as those needs change they can pivot and adapt quickly. Of course it isn't perfect and I also know that not everyone is able or wants to make those decisions.
However, if we are serious about ensuring this country remains solvent and can provide social services to those in need, we need radical change.
More government and a bloated bureaucracy is bad for everyone...except those living high on the hog from taxpayers money.
Thought for the Day
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”