Something must not be done

Many people nowadays expect government to be the solution to all ills. Whenever something happens that someone doesn't like, the cry goes up "Something must be done". The expectation is that it will be government doing that something.

And yet those same people hold government and politicians in contempt. Every government programme fails to satisfy them. Politicians are often regarded as arrogant, unlistening, venal, untrustworthy self-publicists. If so, why do people have such high expectations of government?

pickinglosers exists to put the opposite case. We believe the truth is that politicians and civil servants are generally decent people trying to do their best. The problem is not with the personnel, but with the system and people's expectations of it. Most of life's ills cannot be solved by government, though people want to believe that they can. In a democratic system in a society where such delusions predominate, politicians are obliged to pretend or delude themselves that they can, if they wish to be elected. Who ever voted for a candidate whose campaign admitted that they would be able to do very little for their constituents if elected?

So we have a self-perpetuating system of government where politicians are obliged constantly to try to cure the incurable. As each government's cures are exposed as impotent, people conclude not that political promises are snake-oil on which our money is wasted, but that someone else's promises will be a genuine elixir next time. In the face of such optimism, politicians have no option but to rehash their ancient remedies and dress them up in the latest packaging, in the vain hope that perhaps they really will discover the elixir one day.

The truth is, they will not discover the elixir, because it does not exist. The best that can be hoped is that their patent medicine does little harm other than waste people's money. But sometimes, the snake-oil will be toxic. The only real cure is to give up the hope of an elixir and save our money.

But many people have become addicted to the medicine. If not a cure, it at least offers a false hope. Abandoning that hope is painful, though recognising that the drugs do no good is the first step in rehabilitation. pickinglosers is intended to be the mutual support group for those who have suffered the effects of the medicine, and recognise the addiction as what it is.

We have all experienced the negative impact of government programmes. It is good to know that it isn't just us. Let's share those stories to remind ourselves that no good ever comes from the false promises, to give us the resolve to face reality and kick the habit. Let's build the evidence to discredit the snake-oil salesmen once and for all. And when telling us your story, remember that what we want is not an alternative elixir, but the empowerment of politicians to admit there is no cure, and to scale back their efforts accordingly.