Monday, May 14, 2007

Peter Principle Becomes Law of the Land in Israel

More Winograd fallout: Knesset ratifies proposal to reward incompetence in public service, and punish success.

ISL - Jerusalem
In a move seen by many as a reaction to the Winograd Report, Knesset members voted yesterday to ratify a new law rewarding incompetence in government service, while punishing proven ability. The law was named after the well-known Peter Principle which states: "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence". New coalition whip and Kadima MK Tzachi HaNegbi explained to ISL correspondent the urgent need to incorporate into law this naturally occurring phenomenon:

ISL: The coalition is fighting for it's life, Olmert is barely holding on as PM, Israel faces a period of learning and readjustment before the next inevitable war – and yet you made time to push this new law which will, basically, make things even worse and the question is – why did you do it?

HaNegbi: You may recall that Olmert promised to study the report and correct all the mistakes, and that's what we have begun to do. The Peter Principle Law is the first in a line of laws that are intended to make sure that we will never again have to face another Winograd Commission
ISL: But Winograd pointed out that all the Ministers were incompetent to a disastrous degree – it seems that the new law will just make thing even worse.
HaNegbi: On the contrary – it will make things a lot better – for the government. Next time anyone blames us of incompetence we will have the law on our side – we will be able to say: "We had to be incompetent – it's the law!"
ISL: Well, sure but wasn't the main lesson to be learned from the war that the government must improve and become better, not worse?
HaNegbi: That's easy for you to say. But most ministers just don't feel comfortable with all the criticism and expectations aimed at them. This way they can all continue in office, secure in the knowledge that no matter how bad they do – it's not their fault.
ISL: So you're saying that if the ministers will be freed from the pressure to perform competently they will actually fulfill their duties capably?
HaNegbi: Not at all. For one thing, none of them give a damn, and besides, they are terrible administrators and they know it and so does everybody else – haven't you read the Winograd Report?
ISL: Well yes, but then what's the point?
HaNegbi: The point is this: competence is a curse. Every competent minister in government, every able officer in the Army, every capable civil servant make us all look bad, and that is what we must stop before it's too late.
ISL: Too late for what?
HaNegbi: Too late to get re-elected of course.
ISL: But how can you stop competence? Seems quite impossible to me.
HaNegbi: Not at all. The law will set benchmarks for incompetence, and in all government bureaucracies only those who achieve the desired level of incompetence will be promoted. The rest will be demoted or laid off. That way, by the next elections Olmert will look like a brilliant leader and people will remember the Peretz Era as a time of security, military might and decisiveness. The important thing is that we get rid of the expectation of competence. After that, the sky is the limit – we will be able to misrule for years to come!!
ISL: You know, that sounds quite ingenious. Hardly the work of an incompetent member of parliament.
HaNegbi: Thank you. I do my best.
ISL: I thought you weren't allowed to do your best any more.
HaNegbi: Well, of course not. To be frank, I did a pretty bad job.
ISL: Doesn't look like that to me.
HaNegbi: No really, lot's of loopholes in the law, careless wording, and it barely passed. It was an all around hatchet job by me.
ISL: I disagree, and I am sure that others will agree with me. You are an excellent coalition leader and a fine lawmaker.
HaNegbi: Please, I hope you're not going to write any of this on your blog.
ISL: I don't know. I wouldn't want to flout the law. After all it is now my civic duty to report competence in my government. As a loyal citizen, one who cares deeply about my country, I really have no choice.
HaNegbi: This could ruin me. I know I can do worse. Much much worse. You have no idea how useless I can be. I swear, I truly am a worthless, bungling idiot. Just please, I beg you, give me another chance….

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