Imagine a publicly owned car manufacturing company who, for years, have been making cars from mostly steel, aluminium and plastic. The workers have been highly trained and a rigorous process of quality assurance has been applied to the cars that come off the end of the production line, the cars being tested for build quality, fuel efficiency, power output, top speed etc.
This is a re-blog post originally posted by @thomascarlpion and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.
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One day somebody at the ministry for car manufacturing (MfCM) compared the quality of these cars with the quality of all the cars in the world and discovered that theirs weren’t the best cars in the world.
The Secretary of State for Car Manufacturing, Mr Voge, immediately announced that the company had to start manufacturing the best cars in the world. (Mr Voge considered himself to be an expert in car manufacturing because he knew how to drive.) The workers were delighted. They suspected that their cars weren’t of a high enough standard and hoped that they would soon be making the best cars in the world.
‘How are we to achieve this noble goal?’ they asked.
‘We will make the evaluation process at the end of the production line much more rigorous’ replied Mr Voge. ‘Cars will be assessed on their carbon fibre and titanium alloy content, they will have to be more powerful, go faster and yet be more fuel efficient emitting absolutely no carbon dioxide whatsoever.’
The workers had many questions:
‘How will the extra costs be met?’ they asked, naively assuming that Mr Voge’s plans included improving the quality of the cars rather than just the rigour of the testing. ‘Car manufacturing spending will be ringfenced’ the MfCM proudly announced. ‘It will not be affected by the cuts that are being applied to other sectors in order to reduce the national deficit.’
‘Great’ said the workers, ‘but how will the extra costs be met?’
‘Spending will be ringfenced’ announced the MfCM.
‘Presumably we will be rewarded for this monumental achievement?’ asked the workers.
‘Indeed’ replied the MfCM, ”your pay will be performance related so that provided the cars pass the new assessments you will be allowed to progress along the pay scales that you have always been on.’
‘That doesn’t sound very likely’ said the workers.
‘Ah but Mr Voge has a great deal of confidence in you. You are some of the most highly skilled workers in the world and to prove it, if you don’t make the targets we will privatise the company and it will be run by the directors of the highly successful travel agent down the road.’
The workers began to get extremely worried. ‘What is the timescale for implementing these changes? they asked.
Mr Voge stepped back in and announced that the new testing regime would begin immediately and that all cars, even those already on the production line even if they were almost complete, would have to pass the new standards.
At this point, inexplicably, Mr Voge was moved to the Ministry for Human Resources and replaced by Ms Gorman who praised the work of her predecessor and gave her backing to the immediate implementation of the new testing regime.
Workers began leaving the factory in significant numbers so the MfCM reassured them by announcing that (in the first year at least) the same proportion of cars would pass the new test as had passed the old test in the previous year. The ministry also announced that lots of workers were in training to build the new cars but just in case, lots of unqualified workers would be taken on to plug the gaps.
So now the company builds the same cars they always did, the qualified workers get paid less in real terms, the same number of cars pass the test as they always did, they have the same technical specifications but they are being sold as being better built, faster, more powerful and more economical.
We don’t know yet what the people who buy these cars will think but we can guess.