Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More contempt

I'm a little late to the ball game on this story about how Newfoundland's Health Minister doesn't need a briefing binder, such is the depth and width of his intelligence that he can remember every single detail of a complex government department that eats approximately 30 per cent of the province's annual budget.

So why mention this a day after the story broke and people like Ed, who has a far greater knowledge than I about how government works at that level, have already mocked it as ludicrous?

Because this is a clear cut example of a government thinking the people it governs (leads, rules, dictates to, whatever) are idiots. Because only a group of people who think those beneath them are morons would honestly try and pitch that statement out there with what passes for a straight face.

I've worked with government at small levels with far smaller budgets and its insane to think that even the brightest of people can know everything that's going on in their department. There's too much going on, a lot of it very technical. And that's at this level.

There's no way Paul Oram can seriously believe that with little in the way of a health background he's perfectly capable of accurately processing the staggering level of complexity that must happen in a health department of that scope. No, the government doesn't want briefing notes because they've been burned by Access to Information requests in the past. If briefing notes were exempt from such requests, just like magic, you would see ministers starting to use them again.

No. This is your government thinking that you're stupid. Again. Is there a magic point for most people where that gets tiring? Or do Newfoundlanders just have an endless ability to take this kind of shit?

Last Five
1. Walls - Beck
2. The lone wolf - Kathleen Edwards
3. All you need is love - The Beatles
4. Fuck and run - Liz Phair
5. No you girl - Franz Ferdinand*


Megan said...

I'm taking a break from hours of writing briefing notes. If Mr. Oram seriously does not use them, I want to work for him.

WJM said...

No. This is your government thinking that you're stupid.

That's a part of it.

The main part, though, is that it's a government that is trying desperately to reduce its exposure to openness, transparency, and, above all else, freedom of information laws.

Remember, Oram is not the first Minister to have developed an oral fixation. He's the third.

Or at least, the third that we know about.

Edward G. Hollett said...

The concept is ludicrous, Craig, if one is interested in effective management and responsible government that can be held to account for decisions it takes.

The Williams crew is not alone in this trend. It has happened at the federal level in other provinces.

What makes Williams and company stand out is that they campaigned on doing exactly the opposite of what they have done and it is right there in your face that they have done a 180.

The reason is exactly as Wally describes it.

What hasn't sunk in yet for most people is that this is either a decisions taken by cabinet as a whole or one that is endorsed - by silence - by everyone from the Premier on down.

That's the part that I find disquieting as - like a great man people - I expected far more from him than he has delivered.

WJM said...

I expected far more from him than he has delivered.

Given that what he has delivered is not dissimilar to the number zero, expectations, even low ones, were almost bound to be high.