Government targets are often classic examples of picking losers. The intentions are almost always spot on, but the result is aiming for a target for all the wrong incentives. For example, crime is too high - set the police a target to get it down, the measure is often number of arrests; the result is a number of easy targets are hit while the real problem remains. Or take this example - and this one is a depressingly good example. The government had concerns over the lack of child care leading to adoption. Therefore the government introduced policy for more children in care to be adopted. The theory being, an adopted child will have a more stable upbringing. The reality is zealous public sector workers under pressure to hit targets. The Times reports that there are now record numbers of young children being taken from their parents and adopted - sometimes unjustly.
Each year some 1,300 babies under a month old are placed in care before adoption, compared with 500 when the Government came to power. Radio 4 have reported that the number of parents in England who have lost their children, despite insufficient evidence that they were causing them harm, has reached record levels. And social workers are blaming the government targets. Sarah Harman, a family law solicitor, has said “Children have been removed from their families unjustly. There’s no two ways about that.” Due to the secretive and swift process, parents have little if no time to appeal. John Hemming MP believes that there are three to four of these types of cases every day.
There are some real horror stories. Take the father who had his two sons unjustly adopted. He later received a written apology from the local authority but, because his children had already been adopted, he will never get them back. Or the mother who had the authorities turn up to take her child away while she was giving birth. This is beyond picking a loser, this is disturbing stuff.