WHAT should we learn from the cocktail of comedy and farce that the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) is costing four times more to run than it harvests? It comes as little surpise that the ARA is yet another failing offspring of the Home Office. Does any bit of that bloated bureaucracy in its swank new Horseferry Road offices work? Its brief got Prime Minister Tony Blair quite excited and we could all applaud the intention to retrieve from criminals the loot they had stolen. Or should that be swag?
The Agency has been given limitless resources, well, £18m (E26m, $32m) for each year of its three-year existence. It currently confesses, I think that is the apt word, to harvesting only £4.3m to date. The worst fund managers can do far better.
The Assets Recovery Agencys goofy performance is a fine example of both Murphys Law (that things will go awry if they can) plus Parkinsons Law (that bureaucratic work expands to fill the time available). I offer my own advance in the social sciences Blundells Law which states that all political initiatives achieve the opposite of their declared founding purpose.
The Assets Recovery Agency was not only granted more money than sense but it was also granted more powers than were sensible. The ARA can freeze a crooks property even if the police have no conviction or any evidence. The politicians, we all understand, wanted to seem hard men against the criminal fraternities. Instead they have created a feast for lawyers who can argue their clients have been found guilty of nothing and so their rights are infringed. Blundells Law a universal, I submit is proved again.
There is no shortage of greater illustrations of folly. In my view the local authority schools of the UK are mostly a disgrace. Business reports the graduates of these comprehensive efforts are comprehensively unable to read, write or count. The more the Education Secretary of State pours in, the worse schools get. Some schools are little more than child-minding agencies or, even worse, crime training academies.
Do we have any worse example of political waste than Her Majestys Prisons? At mounting expense, but laced with cruelty, we train the flawed in our midst to retrain as professional criminals often with drug addiction to add to their BSc in Burglary.
I do wish Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn would write further episodes of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. I hug myself with delight every time I see them re-run. The joke is that it is all so near to