The World Went To Hell When We Put Bean Counters In ChargesteemCreated with Sketch.

in politics •  last month


I have an online associate who is fond of quoting Gary Vanyerchuk's statement that you can't measure ROI on your mother. I used to think it was a bit “motherhoodish” but lately that sentiment has come into ever sharper focus for me, simply because it identifies the inherent failing contained within our entire system.

The failing is we simply have to measure everything and what return it delivers. It's complete and utter madness. I'm sure we weren't always this way. I'm sure once upon a time, we managed to have our society's needs prioritised because some things just can't be measured.

Things like love, courage, kindness, respect, honour, duty and manners can't be quantified. You can't simply head on down to the supermarket and pick up a bottle of love, nor can you top up on courage at the service station. Sometimes I wish I could, life would be a whole lot easier.

Somehow we've lost the ability to value what really matters.

In its place, we measure “productivity,” ROI, and my personal favourite, “investment dividends” on every facet of our society. How did we get to this place where an accountant is deemed more valuable than a nurse?

I tell you how it's when we put the bloody bean counters in charge – that's how.

We gave them the keys to the kingdom, bowed to their analytical models and started “cutting the fat” out of our systems that were built on the very things that can't be measured.

Now, its fair to say I've met plenty of accountants in my time and while some of them have been great to have a beer with none have been blessed with creative flair. They simply can't see round corners – even when you hand them a mirror. It's the way they are – they're good for counting, analysing and getting you a better tax return than you're entitled to but they should never be in charge of anything other than counting stuff.

The trouble is that they are. When you look around almost all the people in charge are bean counters of one description or another – accountants, economists (now there's some new age science right there), bankers or an amalgamation of the three. It's now a given that a school principal has to be a better business manager than a teacher, that a hospital CEO is better at business than health care and that politicians can talk their way around numbers while glossing over human cost.

It goes deeper, we see success in terms of more money, bigger houses, new cars and trophy spouses. We simply have no place for the “losers” who can't or don't want to play this game. We are losing the last shreds of our humanity and cheering it on in productivity drives, enterprise bargaining deals and TPP agreements that we aren't even privy too.

It's high time that we sacked the bean counters and put some people who can deal with people back in charge. Start demanding humanity from our leaders. Start demanding it today.

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You are absolutely correct!

As a life long teacher I tend to see things thru educational shaded glasses.

The education system, sadly, has been directly affected by the issues you bring up. We have too many "Educators" who's primary goal is to climb the ladder and make it to Superintendent. These are the same teachers who teach subjects and not students. Then grade them on the stuff that easy to grade but not important rather than grade the hard stuff that is difficult to grade.


Agreed - we're trapped in a vicious cycle of "keeping up appearances" Great teachers inspire and nurture whereas the education "system" processes units. It's all about meeting arbitrary targets that mean nothing rather than giving kids a chance to grow into life choices that they're going to a) enjoy and b) be good at. Here, the bar is set so low for students in order for the school to deliver outcomes on paper.