The Devil’s Advocate is in the detail

You know, if I were in a position of national authority, I’d want a pessimist with an analytical mind on my team – not just to say “it won’t work, you know,” but to be able to explain why.  Then, you’ve got an opportunity to pre-empt problems and work out how to get around them.  I’m quite sure that the reason for so much of our inept and botched legislation over the past years is because of a “can-do” attitude, where anyone who raises an objection is seen as undermining the team, or the leader.  As a result, unexpected obstacles occur.  There seems to be a fairly relaxed attitude about this – extra legislation can always be brought in later to deal with the loopholes.  I think this is dreadful – for one thing, it looks incompetent and lazy, for another it unnecessarily complicates the matter and for a third, some of the problems may not be identified for quite a long time.

There’s also the habit, nowadays, of announcing something to see how it goes down with the public, and if there’s a big outcry, a rapid turnabout and a cancelling of the plan.  The last government did that and, sad to say, the present one seems to be no less guilty of the same tedious thing.  I’m not being political, certainly not party political.

Another thing that has come in over the last fifteen or twenty years is measuring – standards, efficiency, whatever.  This may be to save money, spend it more wisely, get better results – and the result has been target setting.  This isn’t always terribly helpful – for one thing, people can sometimes spend as long working out how to circumvent the targets as in meeting them, especially if it’s not a realistic target in the first place and, for another, if one is missed then it doesn’t necessarily matter by how much.  And there has to be a point at which efficiency reaches its peak, after which trying to save more just becomes either not cost-effective, or actually reduces efficacy.

I’ve got to get ready for my meeting this afternoon.  Dice haven’t been rolled, but they’re being shaken right now.

7 comments on “The Devil’s Advocate is in the detail

  1. Dandelion

    Yes, and it’s also dreadful for a 4th reason, which is the unseemly amount of tax-payers money that gets wasted on the half-baked self-indulgent pipe-dreams of the egotistically dim-witted leaders we keep electing. Something needs to be done about it, in the next twenty minutes, I would say.

    And I don’t think it’s just because of the appetite for yes-men, I think it’s genuinely because too many people don’t do their jobs. It’s not a meritocracy, it’s a thickie-ocracy, if you ask me. I mean, come on, it’s not rocket-science!

  2. Z

    Hear hear, Dand. It used to be that politicians had a real job before becoming an MP, but now they are mostly career politicians and know damn all about real life. For example those who whinge that they don’t now get instantly reimbursed for expenses. Well no, I had to wait a year before getting a tax credit on the thousand pounds I spent on my London flat. I never got the money back. They haven’t a damn clue.


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