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When the solution becomes the problem

What is it about groups of ordinarily talented, sensible and intelligent people? When they form into organisations, they eventually lose the plot and become part, if not all, of the problem. The only difference now is that the problem is more complex and more difficult to fix. Clever people can’t help themselves but make simple solutions into increasingly complex ‘solutions’ that then become problematic, usually for people on the front line.

“And none of this irons-out the fact that the EU is a distant, inflexible, unaccountable bureaucratic body, which has suppressed the potential of many of its citizens. We should not be supporting it. Reforming such bodies from within is an impossible task. Better to hasten its demise, so we can start again. Such bodies don’t do anyone any favours — unless you happen to be working for them or receiving subsidy from them.” — Dominic Frisby of MoneyWeek (8 June 2016).

Reading this, I couldn’t help wondering about all bodies, and more especially, State institutions. Is this the difference between capitalism and socialism, between private enterprise and State-run enterprises?

Clarity of purpose and the ultimate accountability of the marketplace is present and absent in both.

A small retailer serves the customer and makes a profit or dies.

Established governmental organisations never die. They become bloated, complex and infuriating for those trying to get things actually done.

Private organisations such as the Lions Club, the Tidy Towns committee or Pieta House spend time and energy on a volunteer basis to achieve clear outcomes such as funding practical local improvements, seeing real improvements in town beauty or reducing suicide and increasing awareness of mental health supports. Outcomes are clear and failure to meet outcomes is clear.

Even the established private banks had a long tradition of conservative and safe lending with good risk management, until risk management went out the door. They lost their focus and discipline. They collapsed and almost brought us all down with them, except we all saved them from death. They should have gone down with true accountability and been forced to think again and start again.

Health, law and local government are on the same journey. Health is now causing increasing stress and ill health by the advent of small things like ‘sensible’ but costly car parking in hospitals to the over-indulgence in computer technology. The unbalanced belief in technology is shoving health workers to the side — out of the way? This is to the demise of the dignity and health of workers and patients alike through understaffing and under-bedding. Working in health is becoming more hazardous with each passing day. Health work is becoming less productive with each passing day.

The EU and the HSE, our legal system and the Government all share the same journey. They start with a great idea and then get totally lost. More and more resources, like a slow-growing cancer, almost unnoticed at first, get siphoned away. But certain processes always occur. Needless complexity increases so that control is taken from the individual and from the local community. More power and privilege are centralised. Things get worse for the citizen who is not inside the clique.

The initial good REASON for the EU and the HSE, the law and the Government, gets forgotten as easily as Machu Picchu. And in this blurring, all abuse is possible. Adolf Hitler understood this. Trump understands this. Hitler was to bring prosperity and dignity back to Germany. He brought shame and destruction.

Many fear that Trump might blur ideas of human rights and dignity on the way to a new authoritarianism and bring the US into shame and chaos.

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