May 2, 2008

Easy Target

The good citizens among us have felt this sense of injustice; if you never felt it then you have been incredibly lucky, or perhaps you are just thick skinned about these things, or maybe you are one of life’s corner cutters, not an easy target. For example, you get a fine and points on your driving license for driving 1 mile per hour over a speed limit, but some reckless driver you have met never drove under a speed limit in their life and boasts they have a clean license. Or, perhaps you always declare all your income and pay your tax on time, but are chased relentlessly for a trivial amount missed by accident, when someone you know does not declare huge amounts they earn, because they got paid in cash. Or, perhaps you are a father from a failed marriage and you pay your child maintenance dutifully, but when you are a little stretched through no fault of your own, you get no latitude; but you know another father who skips most of his payments and always gets away with it.
The problem is target based metrics used to measure success that don’t value the difficulty of the job or its wider impact. It is difficult to ensure value is placed on these two features throughout society, but government has the opportunity to lead by ensuring they are used in the public sector. If they added these two criteria to any metric used to measure public sector performance, I think this would go some considerable way to making many of us feel happier with our society.

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