Incompetence Breeds Corruption
By JC Collins
As we enter into the final stretch of the Presidential election in the United States it’s worth taking a look at the space which exists between competence and the complete lack of any competence. The older I get, and the more I learn about how the world works, the more I realize that incompetence abounds on unimaginable levels.
But it’s not only incompetence, it’s the excuses and misdirection’s to hide incompetence which push everything into the realm of the unbelievable. A case in point is the endless re-cycling of Pentagon budgeting and operational incompetence.
Once again we are reading stories about missing trillions of dollars from the Pentagon’s budget reporting and auditing. The recent tally which is being reported is $6.5 trillion. Now before we get too excited about this number we need to remember that this is a rolling audit deficit and error in reporting which began in 1996, the year when the Pentagon was first mandated by Congress to begin auditing its budget.
Over the last 20 years, since 1996, that would average out to around $325 billion a year which has not been accurately tracked and reported. The projected budget for the Pentagon in fiscal year 2016 is estimated at $585 billion. So an average incompetence of $325 billion is substantial.
This “missing” trillions is not a direct reflection of corruption and validation of conspiracy theories. In comparison, corruption exists and feeds off incompetence as incompetence creates opportunity for corruption, as well as conspiring interests. How could such incompetence exist and be allowed to continue?
For the purpose of scale and understanding let’s look past our ridiculous governments and use private industry as a benchmark. Private industry, which in many cases feeds off government incompetence, is forced into capturing efficiencies through capitalist competition and other market forces. But this doesn’t always work.
A case in point would be the now long gone oil boom in Alberta. When crude prices lingered between $100 and $150 dollars a barrel investors were lining up to get into the oil sands craze. Large amounts of money were being poured into the region and Alberta while the government pocketed the royalties which the oil companies paid.
Each major oil sands project came in way over budget and past completion schedule. Some had an initial construction and start up budget of $5 billion with an actual cost of $15 billion when the dust finally settled and first oil made its way down the pipeline.
As a part of this industry for my whole career I can state categorically that the over expenditures were in direct relation to the total incompetence of the companies and people managing each project. Whether it was union waste or a lack of inventory controls, workflow management, and leadership, the inefficiencies and incompetence continued to grow and eventually became the norm.
People would even state that the waste was just the “oil sands way” as they laughed and carried a box of safety gloves home to distribute amongst their friends and family for whatever reason. Incompetence breeds corruption.
The government itself here in Alberta also acted in incompetent and corrupt ways. The flow of riches from a booming industry only added to the natural government instinct for waste. The long-time ruling Conservative Party didn’t adjust well to the loss off easy boom-time money and the people, against their own better judgement, elected an even more absurd government of left social justice warriors with no experience and even less common sense.
My home is a few minutes from the Alberta Legislature and when I walk or drive past it I am dumbstruck about how such a silly government full of even more incompetence and corruption managed to seat itself in this beautiful and stoic building. It’s surreal to think of the idiotic conversations which must be taking place inside.
Even the opposition party can’t help but sound like childish opposition. Political parties and 20th Century politics seem so redundant and unmanageable. It’s hard to imagine a future were such systems still dominant the flow of everyday life for millions and billions of people. The easy flow of tax dollars into government coffers is the beginning of the incompetence and corruption. It can be no other way. Easy money is never managed with competence. Even measures of accountability don’t work to correct the issue.
This past February somebody of what I would imagine was good intent, attempted to force a change in government by using social media and getting thousands of people to stage a protest in front of the legislature building. Someone somewhere in a comment called for a “kudatah” in Alberta. This was a very unfortunate misspelling of coup d’état, the French word for removing a state power. Social media spontaneously erupted in a flood of kudatah memes which provided a lot of laughter. I’m not kidding, google “kudatah” images.
Sitting here at my desk on this Saturday morning I’m reflecting on work and all of the moving pieces to what is becoming a flagship example of an oil sands project which is focused on cost reductions, efficiencies, workflow management, and proper culture and leadership. The small part I play in this development is the accumulation of a lifetime spent in the region working under some of the brightest and most skilled minds in the industry. It is a true testament to the potential for competence and gives me hope.
Having no idea of what to write about this morning, I decided to just let my thoughts run freely and whatever came out came out. So far so good. I think.
The obvious trend from all of the above is that easy money makes room for incompetence and subsequently corruption.
In America the role of the US dollar as the world’s primary reserve currency created an abundance of easy money for those within the American establishment who wished to remain unaccountable and feed of the incompetence for their own personal gain. The whole system is set up that way, all political systems are, here in Alberta and Canada, and even as far away as Russia and China.
But what happens when the easy money begins to decrease? Efficiencies are forced back into the system and corruption begins to disappear under the direction of competent leadership.
Donald Trump, on the surface, is providing an enhanced level of leadership which could potentially carry America through the period of adjustment which will take place over the next few years and decade. But I doubt this will be the type of leadership which will eliminate incompetence and end corruption. That would take the complete transformation of our political systems from the adolescent structures which have carried over from the 20th Century.
Competence needs to be forced back into our systems of governance and management. The Trumps and Clintons in America, and the NDP government here in Alberta, not to mention the embarrassment of our federal Liberal government, are all examples of outdated political ideologies and governance methodologies which promote incompetence.
Incompetence breeds corruption, whether it’s conservative corruption or liberal corruption. There is no need to fragment and divide it further. That is misdirection and obfuscation. Human incompetence is human incompetence and human corruption is human corruption.
The world is changing and I’m suspecting that the old ways of doing things will be replaced with efficient methods of competent transformation. The vast flow of information in the world of the 21st Century is providing humans with the first real opportunity to implement effective change management in how we govern ourselves and the world we share. Like the Atari video game console from the 1980’s, political systems as they are today will become obsolete and be overtaken by the new forms of human ideologies which will begin to emerge on the landscape before us.
The kudatah is happening and most are not even noticing. - JC
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