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The Forum > Article Comments > Communities represent more than dollar values > Comments

Communities represent more than dollar values : Comments

By Frank Quinlan, published 15/7/2009

Not all of what a community service is or provides can be captured in dollar terms on a balance sheet.

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Thank you for putting in to words so clearly the difficulties which arise through competitive tendering within the community services.
Posted by Till, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 9:47:01 AM
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One solution might be if the partnership or contract between community service providers and government should only be broken in the case of breach of contract, fraudulent activity and failure to deliver services. This would ensure the goodwill component is maintained.

Unfortunately advocates of the free market have fostered a system where foreign owned enterprises can win contracts for social or employment services within Australia so some of the local services missed out in the new tender round. Problems with the probity of the tender process was highlighted in these articles in The AGE:

Job Services website listing successful tenderers:

I for one don't believe that employment services should be outsourced to private enterprise. Too many have 'cheated' the system by claiming successful placements even if applicants have found a job under their own steam or fudged figures to indicate a higher job seeker register - even if the job seeker is already employed but merely seeking to change jobs.

I experienced this when registering with a government authorised agency some years ago as they advertised a job I found interesting. I found out later that my registration was used as a statistic despite the fact I was not unemployed.

Ironically when I arrived for the interview the agency advised the job had 'gone'. Odd given I only spoke to the recruiter the day before.

Greed is not a good motivator for providing social services. Using unethical marketing techniques like this to get people in the door should not be the business of social services particularly those with the aim of helping the most vulnerable to gain work - disabled, drug addicted, homeless and long term unemployed.
Posted by pelican, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 1:36:32 PM
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I am afraid you pine for utopia, but dystopia is wherein we dwell. Me thinks you are many years out of date Frank Quinlin! The erosion of community corresponded with the rise of the state from which emerged mass society. Social insecurity is attended by the state not as in the past by local communities. Community is dead and anonymity is mass societies lot; gone autonomy and a sense of purpose.

From this condition emerges chronic mental illness as individuals in dying communities struggle for personal identities (Who am I)? and in your case, explanations to describe the loss.

So who now services the state needs for such social services? Answer: Corporations. So State now becomes dependent on the corporation’s services for convenience and social stability. In order for the state to deal with the insecurities of its anonymous subjects, impersonal systems of the state lay juxtaposed.

The state is now subjugated to corporations and their requirements and expectations and price mechanisms. Exit stage door right, community expectations with its now archaic moral codes.

Frank, Alas, there are no morals in the new world order!
Posted by diver dan, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 10:11:39 PM
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Why are you complaining? You are now realizing exactly what you have wanted. The government is taking responsibility for those things that individuals and the local community used to have responsibility. This is what you have voted for.

When you send your individual responsibility off to some remote body of government which you then hold accountable you must accept the consequences of giving this responsibility to the government which includes financial responsibility for the delivery of services by the lowest bidder who will then perform according to the one nationwide contract for delivery of services.

This is what you wanted and this is what you are getting - if you don't like it, at the next election, throw the bums out!
Voting to change governments has consequences. And rather than just accepting the retoric of the pollies that are trying to get elected do the work to understand what you are asking for.
Posted by Bruce, Thursday, 16 July 2009 12:35:41 PM
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Well said Bruce.

Economic calculation comprehends everything exchanged against money. There is no use, and no need for economic calculation for things which are not sold and bought against money. Such things as love, appreciation of natural beauty, and charity to help the less fortunate, are values of the first order. They are valued directly for their own sake.

Therefore while it is true that such first-order values cannot be calculated in money terms, on the other hand, this does not in the least impair the usefulness of economic calculation. No calculation is required to acknowledge them fully and to make due allowance for them. All the decision-maker has to do to make the choice is to contrast them with the total amount of costs their acquisition or preservation requires.

Suppose the government purchasing officer has a choice between two services: one of them involves the destruction of considerable NGO goodwill and is cheaper, while the other includes the benefits of that good will and is dearer. The fact that the goodwill, the charitable spirit, and so on, cannot be estimated in money terms does not impair the purchasing officer’s decision.

By the same token, the NGO or church body making the tender has a similar choice. It can do good works directly with the money and goodwill it has.

Or it can try to get more resources by collaborating with the legal apparatus of compulsion and coercion, threatening people with police, court and prisons in order to force them to submit to having their property confiscated.

But governments also value directly the first-order results they are trying to attain, for which they treat the service providers as the means. At least they are treating you better than you want to treat others who are to be forced to pay for values you are not willing to pay for voluntarily.

I don’t recall anything in the good book about ‘get money from people by threatening to beat them into submission, and then with that money, do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Do you?
Posted by Jardine K. Jardine, Thursday, 16 July 2009 5:39:11 PM
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