Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm all right, Jack.

One of the things I have noticed as I get older is that I become less tolerant, particularly of incompetency which I witness in increasing frequency. There is, I believe, a clear difference between incompetency and an error caused by a mistake. We all make "mistakes", have accidents and make errors of judgement. I believe most of us have the capacity to forgive such "mistakes" - without compassion we would be a lowly race. Incompetency is a different issue altogether though and as the years tick by I've noticed that I experience more and more "incompetency" which has often been the cause of much aggravation and heartache - this varies from the smallest tasks such as not receiving the letters from school to my father dying an early death from undiagnosed and untreated cancer.

So yesterday, after another such experience I have thought about the reasons why levels of incompetency are rising. Here are some of the reasons I consider to be the primary causes in the UK;

1. Education. The level of education in schools and universities has fallen dramatically. This is compounded by lowering the exam standards and the pass marks so that many people believe they are more skilled/better educated than they actually are. There is less humility amongst the young and little respect for the qualities of age and experience.

2. Education in the workplace. Many people in the workplace do not receive the proper training to do their jobs competently. People are designated tasks which are, quite simply, beyond their education and experience. There are many reasons for this lack of training but I would suggest that the primary cause is that many companies seek maximum profit for minimum outlay.

3. Reliance on computers and computer programs. People expect computers to provide the answer to everything. Yet computer programs are not infallible and are only as accurate as the person designing them and/or using them.  Often, people do not apply common sense or logic when faced with answers thrown up by the touch of a button.

4. The prominence of the cultures of political correctness and interference of government. These cultures have become so widespread to the extent that people will now no longer speak or act freely for fear of persecution, prosecution and reduced employment prospects. Even when the voices of  logic, reasoning and common sense speak loudest, the voice of government and legality always wins.

5. The overall decline of literacy skills. People read and talk less. Language has become abbreviated and therefore overall communications skills have deteriorated. When people do not communicate well there are more misunderstandings and arguments.

6. People have become lazy. The rise of the "Benefits Culture" is destroying the traditional British work ethic and the focus on celebrity and materialism means many people have high aspirations without first learning that in order to receive one should also learn how to give. People who do not value their jobs are more likely to be incompetent.

7. The decline of religion and morality.  In my opinion, (which is, of course, subjective)  religion does not wage war, humans wage war. Religion is continuously given a bad press and throughout history has often been used to mask economic and political agendas. The decline in religion may possibly be linked to a decline in morality, giving rise to a society where the welfare of others and social responsibility has less importance. The phrase "I'm all right, Jack"  has never been more appropriate. Never mind that people may be suffering, starving and living in abject poverty or quite simply hanging around waiting for someone to do their job properly - so long as I'm all right, Jack what does it matter?

And so on...but now I've let off a little steam I can calm down a little. Hurrah!

Oh, wait a minute. Maybe not.

Unfortunately, an email has just arrived on my desktop regarding yesterday's delay. I really don't know why I bother writing to people/schools/organisations/companies to highlight problems as it makes very little, if any, difference and probably only serves to earn me a reputation as a difficult person.

You know, just for once I would like someone to say "We take on board what you say, Mrs Turley. We are really sorry you had a bad experience and we will look into our procedures to make sure this situation can be prevented in the future" - instead of all the usual excuses and waffle.

Ain't never gonna happen. There's more chance of pigs flying. From now on I'm going to stick to being silly. It's a lot more fun.

Right, where's my tickling brush?


  1. G'day Mrs T!

    Loved what you wrote (with one small exception), and I think your list pretty much covers the big "Whys" well.

    There are a few common demn... dinon...denomn....reasons though, I reckon. Litigiousness has been a massive killer of creativity, originality, and just plain fun. How many fairs (which we don't actually have here) or community events (car shows, petting zoos, model plane get-togethers, etc, which we do have down under) have been permanently cancelled because insurance or safety equipment (solely to stop the terminally stupid from removing themselves from the gene pool in a public manner) cost too much?

    Few people want to take responsibility for their own actions, let alone anyone else's, so rather than common sense, it's left to the induhvidual to do whatever they feel the urge to do, and if they hurt themselves, then there's always the legal system to cushion their fall.

    But then, no-one wants to make any mistakes in their job, because they could lose it, or end up costing the company so much they go under. And since all businesses seem to want to do infinitely more with infinitely less, there's no incentive for anyone to spend more to do a better job, because better jobs generally take longer to do, and time is money - and everyone suddenly wants everything as cheaply as possible, right NOW! What sort of people are we turning into?

    I spend a lot of time in hospitals (not as a staff member, thankfully), and they've all started to try being business-oriented instead of compassion-oriented, to everyone's loss. There ARE fantastic individuals who know how to work around the system, but what works in the medical professions doesn't necessarily work in a foundry, or on a process line, or behind a desk. So everyone loses.

    I suspect that there will come a time where the pendulum swings the other way - as long as craftsmen and passionate people and businesses last long enough to see that time - and maybe people will start to appreciate compassion and passion and workmanship and reliability and common sense and personal responsibility. Maybe. The alternative is a nightmare, but we who can see it coming are few and far between.

    I'd love to be able to make this a funny response, but I've been fighting this for so long, I ain't got the humour for it. But you do!

    Sorry for the book-length reply...

  2. G'Day Cephas Atheos and welcome to my blog:)

    Yep, you're absolutely right I missed out the rise of litigation which is as you say a real creativity and enjoyment killer - we have even had conkers banned in school playgrounds here! I wholeheartedly agree that people should take more personal responsibility (and I believe many people do want to return to those days when common sense prevailed) but getting rid of all those Little Hitlers who wind up everyone and everything in red tape is now a very long way away - at least in the UK.

    Book length replies are very welcome, Cephas:) I know what you mean about not having the humour for it - I try to fight with humour most of the time but sometimes what I see around me just grinds me down and I explode. School is my favourite place for ranting - I'm not popular there - they probably have a picture of me on the dartboard in the staffroom!


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