Thursday, 11 October 2007

The principles of communism

The government has a cunning, some would say not so cunning, knack of tricking people into their way of thinking with games of logic that we really should have learnt to side step by now. I would like to demonstrate how this occurs; to understand simply read through the three case studies below and all will become clear:

1. Communism.

Principles of Communism (as described by Frederich Engels)
  • establish a classless, stateless social organisation
  • based on the principles of social and economic equality
  • common ownership of the means of production
2. Modernising Medical Careers.

Principles of MMC (as described by Liam Donaldson)
  • be programme-based;
  • be broadly-based to begin with for all trainees;
  • provide individually-tailored programmes to meet specific needs;
  • be time-capped;
  • support movement of doctors into and out of training and between training programmes.
3. The Dilbert principle (as desribed by Scott Adams)
  • management used to work on the Peter principle, ie capable workers were promoted until they reached their level of incompetence, they were then moved into management
  • management is now based on the Dilbert principle, ie the most ineffective incompetents are now moved straight into management before ever finding that thing called competence
The three above examples are very different, two of them share rather a lot in common, while one is a rather astute observation that has some marked relevance to the NHS management. Communism and MMC are two ideas that superficially appear well intentioned and noble in principle, however first appearances can be deceptive. Who knows if the stated principles were genuinely well intentioned, in both cases it did later became apparent that those in power would not stay true to their noble ideologies but would primarily seek to service their own interests, while the ideas in practice were very different to their initial appearance on paper.

If I offered to babysit for your family, and set out a list of noble principles on powerpoint that included 'child safety', 'house security' and 'owner satisfaction', then I am sure you would expect me to live up to my principles and do a good job. If I proceeded to lose the children at the off license, get blind drunk on super strength cider and burn down the house while trying to make a bacon sarnie, then would my noble principle save me? And would I be rehired after an enquiry into events, as long as the noble principles of good babysitting were reiterated?

I think not. So why do we keep falling for this principles malarkey? Tooke wants to reassert the principles of Modernising Medical Careers, this sounds good and well intentioned; however if the same incompetents are still in charge of all the same incompetent institutions that have control of medical training, then practically will anything actually change? Answers in the white space below please.

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