24 September 2007

Vulnerable models - a selection

Front page of Friday's Financial Times:

Questions over the competence of the Financial Services Authority moved to the fore yesterday ... Some of the UK's leading institutional investors, speaking on condition of anonymity, also turned on the FSA. One said ... "Northern Rock has fallen foul of the dislocation in markets. But the model was always vulnerable. Why wasn't that spotted?"

Possible answer: Because under mediocracy, the paradigm role for managers in the regulatory sector — as in most other sectors — changes from (a) taking responsibility to (b) applying rules. So long as no specific rules are contravened, an official can be considered to be discharging his or her responsibility. Conversely, the enforcement of rules becomes paramount, and trumps the application of individual judgement.

Here are some more vulnerable models. When these lead to failure, do/will people wonder why their particular flaws weren't spotted?

• free university education for everyone ( → free university education for no one)

• guaranteed state pensions for all ( → guaranteed state pensions for none)

• free medical care for all ( → rationing and refusal)

• university admissions meritocratic and evenly distributed among social classes ( → university places by quotas and/or lottery)

• safety net and liberty for all ( → health authoritarianism)

• education without market forces ( → pupils cannot read, write or add up)

• perfect egalitarianism and fairness ( → spin, concealment, and a new elite)