“Less or “better state”, what strategy to improve public efficiency”

Grandstand. It is understood, Macron is a “liberal”. But in what sense? At the beginning of the five-year term, the elected president was rather ultra-liberal (abolition of the ISF, the “crazy dough” What do social policies cost? “just cross the street” to find a job, etc.). Then came the “yellow vests” and the billion euros granted and, finally, the Covid and the “whatever it takes”, which made it possible to protect French society from a recession. The sharp increase in public spending made possible a rapid recovery of the economy; but it also caused the public debt and deficit to explode.

Given the urgency, almost everyone, politicians and experts alike, have so far admitted the merits of this approach. But the gradual control of the epidemic gives hope for a reduction in public subsidies. The debate on the welfare state has thus made a comeback. Should we reduce it to its sovereign functions or renovate it? After moving away from financial orthodoxy, should we return to it? But what do we want to reduce? Public spending in general? The scope of state interventions? Reducing the number of civil servants is favored on the right because – synonymous with savings – it is a slogan that speaks to the voter. In the ultra-liberal bidding, Valérie Pécresse today promises 150,000 job cuts. But as his rival for the moment for the candidacy for the nomination of the party Les Républicains, Michel Barnier, pointed out, it will be necessary to recruit some for health, justice and the police… So how to commit to a figure? ? What will be the balance between recruitments and deletions?

The search for efficiency

The number of civil servants is not an objective. Rather, the goal is their effectiveness in meeting public needs. They are probably too many in certain ministries or in certain services (such as agglomerations), but not enough in other sectors, such as medicine, nursing, justice or the control of public finances. It is therefore the satisfaction of needs that must be the criterion for their redeployment. If Emmanuel Macron was right to relaunch public spending to contain the economic risks linked to the Covid-19 epidemic, it is because an epidemic is a matter for the public economy, and it is a public policy that is relevant to fight it. Indeed, contagion escapes individuals, so that protecting oneself from a virus or protecting others from it does not come under individual freedom. Governments are responsible for public health. Controlling the epidemic and reviving the economy justify public spending; but its optimization requires an overhaul of the public economy based on current needs. So a return to social liberalism.

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