The news that Dave Hartnett, the UK’s chief tax collector, has become a consultant to Deloitte, is hardly shocking because so many now pass through the revolving door. In France, when public servants cash in by taking private sector jobs, it is called pantouflage. In Japan, it is amakudari (“descent from heaven”); and, in the US, it is normal.
For all that, it is worrying. Not because it involves crude corruption, but because the benefits of knowing how things work at the top, and knowing the people in charge, are valuable. The fact that those benefits can easily be sold to outside bidders changes the incentives to become a public servant disturbingly.
Gapper concludes we cannot stop this. He is, of course, only half right. He can’t stop this.
States of Courage should pay enough to keep staff. And this would ensure that no private sector employees would ever want to work for The State. It would also completely discourage people who are only motivated by self-interest and greed applying for jobs with The State.
And we can contract people so they cannot move in this way. The State provides all people with their human rights so we can prevent them doing whatever we deem inappropriate.
That is a vital component of the rule of law under the State of Courage.
If The State decides you’re a trouble-maker, it can do whatever it deems necessary. Of course, I am not condoning the sort of behaviour that poor, poor Osita Mba was subjected to.
I am thinking of something a bit more like Camp Bastion.
But, this is still all about Hartnett, of course. As has so often been the case in recent years, Hartnett is creating debate in ways he cannot welcome.
His capacity for making errors of judgement is extraordinary.
Which is exactly why he ought to still be a public servant.