Even to seasoned readers of the newspaper like ourselves there are still gobsmackers to be found in the pages of The Guardian:
Back when local councils directly funded nurseries, there was at least some democratic accountability for how public money was being spent. But now that subsidies are channelled via individual parents, there is too little oversight for how £6bn of taxpayer money is being used to help give children the best possible start in life. Instead, the care of young children has increasingly become a commodity to be bought and sold.
The claim being made is that bureaucrats, overseen by politicians to some extent, care more about the quality of goods and services being delivered than private sector economic actors do.
Well, to be honest, that might even be true. It's the next stage which is so important though. The only way we will get decent supply from the bureaucrats is if they do care. Those private sector actors have to care for if they don't then they lose business, go bust, get fired.
Which is why that move to commoditisation, the insistence that care for children is something to be bought and sold. The decision makers being the very people to whom the welfare of the children is most important, their parents. Because, as hard won experience has taught us, it's the pressure from buyers that makes suppliers deliver the goods.
That, after we surveyed the rubble heading east from the Brandenburg Gate in 1989, anyone can seriously argue otherwise really is a gobsmacker.