Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A new dawn - the age of incompetence

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - from Wikipedia

One of the crucial defences any society has to erect is a defence against itself - a precaution against its own incompetence. Any society may evolve harmful social trends, but these are identified and tackled if the society is competent. Competence is maintained by the education and moral guidance of children, by just laws and tolerance. Prosperity also plays a part if all the wealth isn’t appropriated by the elite. Prosperity arises from competence too.

So what could possibly go wrong?

Well war - obviously. No sane person wants wars, yet they still happen. Other problems arise as soon as incompetence stalks the land. Incompetence is the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse - the sneaky one with the pale face and sanctimonious air. The EU is a good example of how national incompetence can arise from a transnational source. The EU has no effective controls to correct its evolving incompetence, nothing to hold it in check.

It is an external source of incompetence against which we have inadequate national defences. European democracies have not been competent in controlling its growth, have not extracted from it only the trade and mutual security they actually need. Norway and Switzerland excepted of course. Their democracies were competent enough to stay outside the EU while taking from it only those benefits they want. What these two countries have preserved is not so much their independence, but their particular national competencies, preserved them from being compromised by external pressures. The UK has been less competent, but at least has stayed out of the euro, the EU’s incompetent currency experiment.

EU incompetence is a serious and growing problem which won’t go away, except in the unlikely event of a significant improvement in national competence. We could educate our children about EU incompetence and about political incompetence generally, but we won’t. We’ve already passed that milestone. Transparency is usually a good starting point, but we don’t have enough of that either. Failure can help, if it leads to a reappraisal and a fresh start, but failure at this level is too serious, we don't want to go there if at all possible.

The problem is fiendishly difficult because it is logical. You can’t tackle incompetence without first being competent.


Demetrius said...

The snag is that the youngest age groups have grown up in a world where incompetency is the norm. As time goes on those who have known activities which were dealt with competently are fewer and fewer. Whether we know what is best to do now is one thing. The problem is we are now electing people who have little or no idea about how do anything properly.

A K Haart said...

I agree. That's why incompetence is so difficult to arrest, why there is as yet no compelling reason to think it will be.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Splendid. The Fifth Horseman of The Apopalypse is Incompentence.

Only, from Their point of view, most governments are hyper-efficient at channelling ever more money and power to those who already have money and power. Something like half of GDP goes to vested interests.

A K Haart said...

MW - thanks. I find incompetence interesting - we underestimate it at our peril.

James Higham said...

The policies and the incompetence combined they must know is going to end up with war.