Imagine a meeting where a new procedure is being finalised. Doesn’t matter what it is, but it is a new procedure within a bureaucracy. There are people in the meeting who insist on adding checks and balances which sound reasonable but they will have a number of practical drawbacks. The procedure will inevitably be more cumbersome than it need be.
However, the unmodified procedure would improve efficiency in a number of areas with the potential for a reduction in the workload of those in the meeting. Naturally enough, the procedure does not remain unmodified, efficiencies are not achieved and workloads are not reduced.
We wouldn’t usually describe as rogues the people who engage in this kind of behaviour, yet in an important sense they are taking something which doesn’t belong to them. Money could have been saved, so in effect they are taking money they no longer earn. There are other costs too, depending on what the procedure was. Petty rogues do make a difference in all kinds of ways.
Or the rude and unhelpful receptionist who runs the front desk to suit herself and not the people she supposedly serves. Again she is in a sense taking something which doesn’t belong to her – the time of other people. A minute here, a minute there. She also increases the burdens of daily life instead of taking them away where she can.
The nurse who trundles along at her own pace, chats with others at the desk and forgets things she could easily remember. Again she is in a sense taking something which doesn’t belong to her – payment for work she isn’t doing. Here again she increases the burdens of hospital life instead of taking away the burdens of ill health.
A lavishly paid TV presenter presents news items in such a way that they are clearly misleading and clearly do not accurately represent even the basic outline of what is going on. Yet again he is taking something which doesn’t belong to him – the ability of viewers to make sense of their own world. The time viewers waste in being misinformed could be added to that.
A well paid, well qualified and ambitious scientist presents the science behind topical news items in a politically convenient but misleading way. He does not accurately represent the uncertainties, caveats and risks inherent in what is going on. Yet again he is taking something which doesn’t belong to him – the ability of others to judge risk in their own world. The costs of mitigating exaggerated risks must be added to that.
The fault is partly ours of course. We have a powerful tendency to accept things as they are, adapt and move on because there is just too much of it. Too many petty rogues taking what doesn’t belong to them.