26 June 2008

Moral dishonesty

I think oftentimes in this world, in the realm of interpersonal relations, we who are shy and not wont to make waves don't tell other people what we really think about them, their lifestyles, or the way they live and act.  

For the most part this is good.  After all, the way I live and go about my personal affairs is not anyone's business.  But this also has the pernicious effect of preventing us from clearly identifying incompetence and moral idiocy in this world and calling it out for what it is.  This provides tremendous unearned benefits to politicians and other shysters.

Employee evaluations are a case in point.  Around this time of year we perform these at my office.  I absolutely detest them - not because I dislike being evaluated (actually I would welcome an honest and open appraisal), but because I wonder if evaluators are really applying objective standards therein, thereby rendering the entire process moot and rather superfluous. They permit interpersonal feelings of not wishing to offend someone, and thus exposing oneself to lawsuits or other such claptrap, to influence and shape the outcome.  We are not graded on a curve here, where we are ranked from most to least productive - all employees are evaluated individually.  And for the most part, everyone seems to do quite well on these evaluations, from what I can tell.  But everyone cannot be above average; the world is not Lake Wobegon.    

Either that is because we have really exceptional employees, or some standard is being ignored. Given that these are GOVERNMENT JOBS, I can't believe for a minute that we are all that exceptional, at least by the standards of the marketplace (which is the measurement standard that should be used in this case).  We are insulated from having to produce a profit or anything of value, so how can we be such good workers?

(Maybe we are good workers by government standards.  Fine, point taken.  But just consider for a minute, though, what "government standards" are and what that term implies.  I won't elaborate since I presume you have enough intelligence to understand the concept yourself, if you are a regular to this place on the web.)

I use the above example because it is so prosaic and common.  Yet it is a situation which demands moral backbone, no matter how much it 'hurts'.  I know most normal people dislike conflict (this excludes thugs, residents of "Nolia" down yonder in the Crescent City, and the pathologically violent - but I repeat myself here). But sometimes we have to call out failure for what it is, lest we allow it to become too common in this world.

I think this lack of moral clarity is a major contributor toward the problems of our postmodern age. Society doesn't set clear standards, so people are free to do whatever without fear of reproach.  In fact we have abolished standards, since they are supposed to be outdated relics of a past age.  Bullshit.  Without standards there can be no measures of competence, and without measures of competence nothing gets done well, or at all.

Or worse yet, behavior that no one could get away with under a moral society is tolerated and even promoted, as a moral free-for-all tends to encourage the rise of the most ruthless, wanton, and incompetent to the top.  Witness our current political and intellectual elites for a classic case in point.

Society needs to return to basic morals.  This means to get the State out of the way permanently, since the State is the greatest benefactor of the evaporation of standards. (Why do you think it is so instrumental in promoting moral decay, courtesy of public schooling and all that?) After all, mass murder is far more difficult to accomplish when a society actually values life.