07 January, 2008

Competence

A very interesting essay from Tim Burke:

I would like to find a way to circulate an emotionally resonant, intangibly powerful, deeply felt national narrative about why it matters to govern well, why training and knowledge and skill are not just good things in and of themselves, but produce tangibly good outcomes in the lives of all Americans. I think it can be done, but it needs to work upwards from everyday life rather than downwards from the inside-the-Beltway world. Whether you work as a waitress in a greasy spoon, a middle-manager in a large firm, or as a high-powered professional, you’ve seen what happens to systems which otherwise were working just fine when someone who is both incompetent and intensely unprincipled gets access to power. (Unless you’re one of those people who is both incompetent and intensely unprincipled, in which case, read no further: this is not for you.) We all know how horrible and final the consequences of unnecessary failure can be.

2 comments:

higgy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
higgy said...

How could we 'fix' this problem? For instance, how could we prevent the occasional incompetent franchise manager or school board president?

Clearly, such basic organizational and leadership skills need to be taught or conveyed at the high school level. This would be the only way to ensure that all young Americans enter the workforce with at least some capability of handling 'power' properly.

How else could you guarantee this? Extracurricular programs, better parenting, or on-the-job training could do the job - but there's no across-the-board way of ensuring everyone gets this. Then again, meddling with secondary school curriculum in all U.S. schools is difficult and dangerous. At the most, states should have control over such curriculum, and local school districts the final say.

I'm just not sure how you could implement a solution.