The Scheme for Full Employment

The Scheme for Full Employment by Magnus Mills 2002


I was first intrigued by the books of Magnus Mills when I read The Maintenance of Headway and
he explained in great detail the answer to that intriguing question: Why do three buses come at
once?
In The Scheme for Full Employment Magnus Mills preface tells us that: It was a perfect scheme:
the envy of the world and we had thought it up. It was watertight, others copied it but only the Brits
could mess it up. Think: Keynes, Parkinson’s Law, 1970’s strikes and arcane procedures, the sick
man of Europe. This is a really funny book: a Poundland Pinter perhaps or an entrant to Becket’s
Theatre of the Absurd. It makes you ponder the meaning but is surreal, silly and very, very
appealing and funny. Easy to read with deceptively simple language it describes a situation that
many of us can recognise.
Men drive to and from strategically placed warehouses in Univans—identical and serviceable
vehicles—transporting replacement parts for…Univans. There is no economic output. Our hero is a
five-year veteran of the Scheme: he knows the best routes, the easiest managers, the quickest ways
in and out. Inevitably, trouble begins to brew. A woman arrives on the scene. Some workers develop
delivery sidelines. And most disturbing of all, not all participants are in agreement. There are ‘Flat-
Dayers’ who believe the Scheme’s eight-hour day is sacrosanct and inviolable, and there are
‘Swervers, who fancy being let off a little early now and again. Soon the Flat-Dayers and Swervers
have pushed the Scheme to the very brink of disaster…
In this country we managed to destroy it. And we did it with our own hands too. The scheme was
created for us and it was we who finally brought it down.

Gill

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