Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Weapons of Mass Disruption

Any nation, people, or organisation has a range of 'weapons' at its disposal, ranging from those of obvious and deadly purpose, to the more subtle ones that most people do not recognise as 'weapons'. Few think of attempts to reduce, restrict or damage another countries economy as a 'weapon', or as an act of war. Yet, arguably, it is both.

Those who call for 'economic sanctions' or 'boycotts' or 'disinvestment' do so in the belief that these are alternatives to sending in the military to change a country. They fondly believe that their 'sanctions' offer an alternative to war, but is it? Is it not a weapon deployed in exactly the same manner as deploying a Trident missile would be? OK, the visible damage is not going to be as great, and perhaps you won't kill several hundred thousand people in achieving your objective  - to change a regime or a national culture - with 'sanctions/boycotts/disinvestments'. Or will you?

The unpleasant truth is that an economic blockade of a country can be just as damaging - over a longer term admittedly - as a short sharp 'little' shooting match. While bullets kill people, sanctions destroy livelihoods, they destroy opportunities, and they create hardships for the very ordinary people those who call for them claim to want to help. So those who want to impose them are, in the long term, likely to cause as much hardship as a 'hot' war will do. Why do I say this?

I have several reasons, one being that I have lived in a country under 'international sanctions'. The most observable effect was the steady increase in unemployment. Disinvestment was something of a two edged sword, many companies who did, walked away having 'sold' their holdings in local companies which simply found other sources of capital (a lot of it ironically, from the Far East and 'Communist' countries), while others simply pulled out, abandoning massively expensive infrastructures and leaving thousands unemployed in an already saturated employment market. Crime rates climbed steeply, with violent crimes such as murder and violent assaults becoming everyday.

And all the while, those imposing the sanctions talked of bringing the country to its knees economically in order to impose their vision of what the country should look like. When I had the opportunity to challenge someone who was a determined and very vocal advocate of sanctions, boycotts and disinvestment, they admitted it was a 'weapon' to be used 'for the good of the oppressed'. But when I pointed out that the 'oppressed' were suffering more than anyone else, the answer astonished me; "Well, some must suffer hardship for the good of the majority and the future."

Quite, as long as it is not the 'advocate' who suffers.

A flip through history reveals a number of interesting things about past 'sanctions' campaigns. Perhaps the most telling is the example of the sanctions against Japan in the 1930s. Intended to 'damage' Japan's ability to sustain its war in Manchuria, it actually convinced the Japanese that their only option was to go to war in order to secure the resources they needed to sustain their economy and population. Some historians still argue that the US policy may well have been deliberately designed to provoke exactly that response. At the very least, something those who advocate sanctions, boycotts or disinvestment should consider is that the response almost invariably invoked in the people on the receiving end, is a hardening of attitudes.

That can be seen today in Iran, in Russia, in Zimbabwe and in Israel.

Then there is the question of what happens once you have succeeded in destroying someones economy. Does it produce the happy smiling face you wanted to see? Or does it produce a failing state, struggling to stay afloat and unable to pay its way in the world economy? If some recent examples are anything to go by, the latter seems to be more likely. Iraq, having had sanctions imposed which ruined its currency and internal economy, then had 'regime change' imposed by a war, is a basket case. Even without the IS lunatics and all the other factions vying for power, it is a country in ruins because its economy is ruined - and it is likely to stay that way for a very long time.

Zimbabwe's economy all but collapsed toward the end of the long UDI government, so when Mugabe came to power, those who love this form of warfare, thought there would be a 'magic' recovery. There wasn't. The AID they poured in was stolen, then the banks were grabbed by Mugabe's thugs, and then the farms. Now? It is a subsistence economy at best. The same thing almost happened in South Africa, though it was better placed to survive, and the economy is at least now stable - but the corruption and white collar crime, coupled with a few other problems, is crippling any rebuilding of the economy. Yet another 'triumph' for the sanctions, boycotts and disinvestment advocates to rejoice over.

Sanctions/Economic Blockades do work. Again, if we consider history, we can see many examples. Britain's blockade of France during the Napoleonic wars crippled France's economy. Napoleon's 'Continental Blockade' of closed ports and trade bans in Northern Europe almost destroyed the British economy by smashing the Baltic Trade - worth over 42 million Pounds Sterling in 1809 and only 5 million Pounds Sterling five years later. The dramatic loss of market share almost destroyed the British economy in the middle of the war. The British blockade of German trade in 1914 - 18 smashed the German economy, and millions of Germans starved (so did millions of other Europeans caught between the 'Great Powers', what one might call 'collateral damage' today), and gave rise (as some always hope will happen when they demand sanctions) to mass civil unrest in German towns and cities. Communists seized town halls and other government buildings, but more crucially, the sanctions/blockade coupled with the demands of the Allies in the Versailles treaty, resulted in the rise of the National Socialists as a counter to the Communists.

Again and again we see the result of destroying an economy to compel regime change, and each time we see a situation resulting that is, if anything, worse than the first state. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are few and very far between.

Those who call for sanctions, boycotts or disinvestment against a country need to think very carefully about what they are doing. In essence they are declaring war on another country, another people, and they are deploying a very dangerous Weapon of Mass Disruption with the deliberate intent of destroying a people's ability to feed and house themselves.

It often strikes me as ironic that those who always advocate the deployment of this weapon are usually also anti-war, anti-military, but none I have ever spoken to seem to see the contradiction.  

Friday, 21 November 2014

Democratic Coalition?

The recent elections for the Landestags (State Parliaments) in the Federal German Republic (Seventeen 'Lände' or States, three of them more or less 'City States') produced some interesting results. First it is probably wise to explain that the German voting system permits a direct vote for a candidate, and a vote for a Party. A voter can choose to vote for a 'Party' that is not the one of his/her candidate of choice, so the voters may, for instance, elect Candidate Mustermann of the CDU, but give their 'Party' vote to the SPD! The ballots are then counted and half the seats are 'direct' candidates, the other half are assigned on the basis of a Party's share of the Ballot. Any Party that gets less than 5% of the Ballot does not get allocated any seats.

There are at least seven Parties in play, including the conservative Christian Democratic Union and their Bavarian sibling, the CSU, the Social Democrats (SPD) (Germany's oldest political party), the Greens (Bundenis 90/Grünen), Die Linke (formerly the communist/socialist SED of East Germany), the 'liberal' FDP, the AfD (the German equivalent of UKIP) and, surprisingly to outsiders, the National Socialist Party. Independents can also stand, and are often sufficiently well supported to win a seat. Currently the Bundestag and most Landestags do not have FDP or NS members since neither Party achieved the 5% threshold. Which brings me to the subject at hand.

Thüringen has been battling to form a government for some time, but has finally got one. The Coalition is a three way share, with Die Linke the largest partner with the SDP and the Greens as 'juniors'. The Coalition has a ONE seat majority over the 'opposition' Party - the CDU. The prospect of a Linke 'Ministerpräsident' (First Minister) in any of the Lande since 1990 has raised a number of eyebrows, and evoked a comment from the State President, Joachim Gauck. Die Linke are, of course, being a little triumphalist about their 'win', yet, in fact, they are, however you cut the pie, still very much a minority government. How the next four years of their 'rule' will affect them and their coalition partners, remains to be seen.

Personally I was surprised the SPD in particular (roughly equivalent to the UK's Labour Party in ideology), agreed to enter a partnership with Die Linke. There is a bad history there, since it was a coalition between the SPD and the SED in 1949 that brought the SED into power and gave the East German's the next 40 years of oppression. With the backing of the USSR, and a behind the scenes campaign against them, the SPD soon found themselves marginalised and eventually ousted. Perhaps this is why, in the opening paragraphs of the new coalition, the partners have - at the insistence of the SPD and the Greens - included a paragraph which declares that they acknowledge that the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was a dictatorship - an 'Unrechtstaat' - and declares they all support the principles of democratic will of the people.

Seeing the expressions on the faces of the new Die Linke First Minister and his cohorts as that was read out, it struck me that they were, quite literally signing up to it only because they have no other alternative. The leopard does not, indeed cannot, change his spots. I suspect there will be many difficult battles ahead for this coalition, and it may yet cost the SPD and the Greens dearly.

The fact that three 'minority' Parties can form a government under the German system is seen by many as a weakness. While I agree that it does allow some rather strange permutations - like having the majority party unable to form a government because they haven't achieved an outright majority - in another sense it certainly keeps the politicians accountable. The situation in Thüringen is a result of voters sending a message to the ruling CDU that they wanted change. They have also 'punished' the SPD, which came in third in the election, losing its usual second place to Die Linke. None of the three Parties forming the new government enjoy, normally, a sufficient majority to do so as 'leader', but combined, they hold the majority of seats - by ONE.

As I said, the SPD and the Greens may yet come to regret trusting the leopard that is Die Linke (which has still not apologised publicly for the oppression, the judicial murders, political imprisonments, persecutions and all the other abuses they employed to keep control and their hold on power) in this. The German system may not be perfect in many people's eyes (I still think its better than the UK 'First Past the Post system), but it certainly allows the voter here a wider choice - and it does mean that every vote counts.

Die Linke know they are not popular, and I have no doubt they will be on their best behaviour in an attempt to recover their credibility, so we face interesting times here. It will be interesting to watch!  

Monday, 17 November 2014


I have to thank Josephus for giving me the smile of the weekend, and I'll share it with you.

As is his wont, Josephus was ruminating on many other matters while performing an essential, but generally menial task. Contemplating a "Use by Date" on, of all things, a packet of frozen prawns, it occurred to him that the prawns 'expired' at around the same time that the current crop of 'millennial' young people will start to enter the workforce, albeit that these will be those who, having been forced to stay in school while having little or no desire to do so, will be exiting those fun factories with only a small amount of the knowledge they could have had, and almost no usable skills.

What employment prospects await them? Not much.

That led him to consider the next election, five years beyond this one. At that point the next tranche of 'millenial' young folk, this time with degrees and diplomas, will be leaving places of Higher Education and seeking work, and now the fun starts. They will enter a world of commerce and industry (and perhaps politics and the Public Services) in which they will find themselves perennially 'too young/inexperienced' for promotion. A world in which all the senior posts are held by the current crop of 'pre-millenial' types - the generation that turned my, and Josephus, age group from being 'too young/inexperienced' to 'dinosaur' and shoved us out to grass. And herein is the rub, because, having told my generation that we are the problem/undeserving recipients destroying the pensions system, they have changed the rules - and now cannot, themselves, retire as they forced us to do.

Because these now ageing 'dinosaurs' cannot retire at 60, not even at 65, but will plan to go on for another twenty years, thereby making real progress for most of the talented young guns very slow.
So the 'young guns' will plot, scheme, and undermine. Remember, that we are talking about the 'connected' generation. In collective ways, they will devise the means to overthrow the 'dinosaurs', just as they did to my and Josephus' generation. And this is where the current crop of power mongers, 'leaders' and 'thinkers' will come unstuck. They've destroyed the means for following a 'career path' in almost all services and industries, indeed they have done the same in commerce. They have 'poisoned the waters' against those with age and experience on their side, and now they will have an angry, frustrated, and above all creatively able generation snapping at their heels.

They will be discarded as we were, but with a big difference. Unlike people like myself and Josephus,  they will not be able to take any pension of any sort. They have made a trap for themselves, and soon it will slam shut behind them. They will be in their late fifties or early sixties with occupational pensions worth a fraction of their predecessors, because the erosion of those benefits in kind was one of their principle weapons, and their old age pensions are still many years in the future.

Will they be employable?  Their lifelong career will have been cut short by a revolution, so probably not. Except as 'Tescbury's' shelf stackers on the zero hours contracts they thought was such a great idea for everyone else working night shift. As another friend says - Karma is a b-1-tch!

Josephus was kinder. He wrote -
I do believe that the Germans have a word for what in English can only be rendered as "Nya-nya-na-nya-nya."
He's right, the German's do have a word for it, and it has found its way into the English Dictionary as well. The word is "Schadenfreude" - to take delight in a self-inflicted misfortune.

Sadly, those most likely to be worst affected by this bout of 'Schadenfreude' are likely to be the group caught between those who pushed Josephus and my generation aside, and the 'millenials' who will shove them out of the window. Karma is indeed a ....

Friday, 7 November 2014

Here's Another Fine Mess ...

What a mess we find ourselves in. The now ex-Attorney-General, Julian Grieves, criticised what he calls the ‘Aggressive Secularisation’ of public life in the UK some weeks ago. As a practising Anglican and member of the Church of England, he raises a concern many of us have felt for some time. As he pointed out, Christians are being marginalised, banned from showing, discussing or even ‘confessing’ their faith. Some have been sacked for wearing crosses, or discussing their faith with others in the workplace. How ironic then, that the same corporate ‘secularisers’ fall over themselves to accommodate Muslims. 

In the same newspaper that carried Mr Grieves’ article, a photograph showed a ‘senior civil servant’ sporting a wonderful example of the ‘Mujahedin’ beard favoured by some Muslims who think it makes them look ‘faithful’ or that it is ‘required’ by their faith. A Christian in the civil service who dared to wear a crucifix, or some other token of their faith, would be ordered to remove it. A nurse was sacked for refusing to remove one on the grounds it was a ‘health risk’ - while Muslim nurses are given special dispensation to wear long sleeves, and the hijab on the grounds their faith ‘requires’ it, when, in fact, it is not a requirement in the Quran at all. British Airways has sacked a check-in desk worker who wore a cross, on the grounds that it was not in keeping with their ‘corporate dress’ code, yet I have had the experience of being ‘checked in’ by a BA worker in a hijab.

Then there is the supermarket chain I will no longer shop at, which allows its cashiers to refuse to serve people who wish to buy pork products or alcohol. This is defended on the grounds it would be a breach of their faith for them to do so, but, a Christian woman who objected to being compelled to give advice on abortion is sacked because her faith may not interfere with the organisations ‘policy’ of providing the information. The list goes on. Christians who refuse to provide bed space to Gays are dragged into court, yet Muslim B&B operators are not put to the test by the same activist organisations. That there is a very deep seated and, frankly, disgraceful, double standard being applied is all too obvious, and if that weren’t enough, there is the whole matter of ‘radical Islam’ and what can only be termed as ‘hate speech’ being spread in our universities, on our streets and in public life entirely without check.

How did we get here? How did this situation develop without someone, somewhere, putting on the brakes?

Sadly, it appears that two things apply here. The first is that our ‘liberal’ society is so afraid of being accused of racism, Islamophobia or any of the other artificial ‘phobias’ invented by them over the last 40 years, they cannot bring themselves to admit it is happening. Secondly, the good old Law of Unintended Consequences has come into play. The efforts - publicly stated by certain sections of our ‘intelligentsia’ - to ‘destroy Christianity and religion’ in Britain, has produced a society with nothing but the prejudices of the elite as a ‘moral’ compass. That has created a society in which the Islamic community can see no virtue, so, they look to their own values and want to impose those. That wish, coupled with the void created by the lack of faith in the majority (G K Chesterton had it right when he said an absence of ‘faith’ did not mean the absence of ‘belief’ - just that now people will believe anything) provides a gap into which the radicals can step with their twisted and warped version of religion and find fertile ground for converts.

In another article, an Imam points to the fact that this ‘radical’ brand of Islam is, in fact, anathema to the teaching of the Quran. One Imam has shown his disapproval to his Mosque Committee, by resigning his post after they invited a pro-IS preacher to deliver a sermon. Others, including the Muslim Council itself, have condemned the radical teachers, the recruiters for IS and the organisation and its actions - but get very little notice in the media, or, indeed, from the young men flocking to the IS Banner. An Oxford based Imam and part-time lecturer at one of the colleges there, has flagged up that the harassment of Christians and Jews (and others) is contrary to the Quran, specifically, to Sura (Chapter) 2 verse 256, which states that there is NO compulsion (forcing) in religion, each individual i free to worship as they choose. This is confirmed in Sura 109 verse 6, which states that everyone has the right to follow their own faith. Even more telling, Sura 22 verse 40 states that all ‘places of worship, whether Christian or Jewish, are to be ‘respected’ and ‘honoured’. So where does the problem with a radical version of Islam arise? 

There are two distinct problems here, and it is important that they be recognised. The first is what is termed ‘political Islam’, that is the root of the ideological movement which seeks to impose secular control through the Sharia. The second part of the problem is that, particularly in Sunni Islam, there is no recognised qualification for preachers. So anyone can claim to be a ‘preacher’ and it is easy for a radical preacher to gain acceptance - especially if he’s able to attract the support of disaffected youth. These ‘preachers’ often draw on the collection of material known as the Hadith (The Sayings …) for material, and it is from the Hadith that the concept of martyrdom comes. It is from the Hadith that the concept of a martyr being rewarded with a life of ease in heaven attended by 72 ‘virgins’ comes.

The Hadith is of very questionable origins. Purporting to be the ‘sayings of the Prophet’ it was first compiled around 300 years after his death, and was condemned then by many scholars. It has gained traction since, becoming the source for justification of many barbaric practices, and a source for much that makes up ‘Sharia’ Law today, and most of that was first ‘codified’ in the 18th Century. It is also the source of the nonsense that allows men to demand and dictate that every women must cover her hair, wear shapeless clothing and in extreme cases, wander round hidden beneath the all black ‘tent’ of the Burkha. It is from the Hadith that some Sunni sects have adopted the female genital mutilation practices, which are, in fact, forbidden by the Quran itself. It is this twisting of the message of the Quran by men of what can only be termed hatred, that gives rise to the ‘radical’ version we now see spreading like a cancer through all sections of Islamic society. 

The problem in the west is that most of those who argue for giving concessions to ‘devout’ Muslims with regard to setting their own ‘cultural’ boundaries and even allowing them to set up enclaves in our cities, is that they do not understand the origins of much of what they assume is ‘in the Quran’. Nor do they understand (and sometimes give the impression that they don’t want to) that there is no such thing as a single universal ‘Islamic Culture’. What is seen on British streets is largely imported from Pakistan and Bangladesh, and would be laughed at in Iran and many other ‘Islamic’ countries. The Burkha comes from Arabia, and is not native to most countries. In fact until fairly recently, none of this was ‘enforced’ on women outside of Arabia and some North African tribal cultures. Even the silly beards sported by young men (and some who should know better) are not at all ‘Islamic’. In fact they are the mark of the likes of the Taliban and Mujahedin. 

So what is seen by ‘liberals’ and supporters of Multi-Culturalism as ‘Islamic Culture' is a sham, but the problem now is that it has become the ‘badge’ of devotion to Islam - so every young man who thinks he’s found a ‘cause’ in his religious beliefs now dresses in this mishmash of costumes and demands that all women in his circle do the same. And with this twisted baggage has come all the other abuses - the ‘honour killings’, the forced marriages, the female genital mutilations, the treatment of ‘Dhimmi’ girls as sex toys and, of course, the demands for the entire English legal system to be suspended and replaced by Sharia Law.

Now the nastier problems are surfacing, the Multi-Culty promoters are desperately denying that any of this is a problem created by their idiocy. For years we have been forbidden to criticise the hate preachers, on the grounds it is their ‘right’ to express these opinions under our cherished ‘freedom of speech’ laws. Or that to criticise them was ‘racist’ and ‘Islamophobic’ in that it was an attack on ‘the religious beliefs’ of the speaker. Anyone who dared speak out, was immediately branded a ‘racist’ or an ‘Islamophobe’ - or if they persisted, a ‘Fascist’. Even now, writers in The Guardian will go to great lengths to give the impression that the likes of the IS and the hate preachers recruiting for them in Britain, are ‘a violent minority’ who do not represent the majority. While I might accept that the majority of British Muslims (there are some 3 million of them) are not ‘violent’ and do not seek to overthrow British Society, they are funding the violent minority. They aren’t doing anything to stop the steadily increasing numbers of young men and women joining ISIS/L (currently estimated by Security Forces in Europe at between 500 and 2,000) and indulging in the murder, kidnapping and torture of Shi’ites, Eastern Christians and others. 

The use of ‘labels’ with a pejorative meaning is a deliberate ploy by those who wish to shut down any debate they don’t want held. By accusing those who dare to question anything, of racism, Islamophobia or fascism, they whip into a fury all the ignoramuses who never stop to look further than the half truths and sometimes downright lies they are fed, leading to the hounding of the inconvenient ‘target’ from the public stage. Now the tactics are coming home to roost with something of a vengeance. We are in this mess precisely because we have not been allowed to debate any aspect of the drive to impose ‘multi-culturalism’ without any regard for the very real, and very foreseeable, consequences. No one dared to challenge the poison being spread by hate preachers like Abu Hamza. We weren’t even allowed to deport them - on the grounds that sending many of them back to the countries they came from, would be a breach of their ‘human rights’.

And now, no doubt, the same ‘human rights’ lawyers are sharpening their ‘briefs’ in preparation to defend the 500 (or 2,000) British passport holders currently fighting under the IS banner. I have no doubt that when the Security Services do track down the funders, recruiters, IT experts and supporters working from inside the UK for the IS murderers, these same ‘human rights’ lawyers and organisations will rush to defend them from criminal charges. Frankly, these lawyers are a major part of the problem, and should be made to face the survivors and the relatives of their ‘client’s’ victims - if not charged with treason alongside the murderers and psychopaths of IS.

According to the Security Agencies in Europe, Britain is now the No.2 exporter of radicalised Islamic terrorists (France is currently No.1 by a small margin). We are an international joke, and our politicians and civil servants haven’t a clue what to do about it. And while they remain paralysed by fear of the consequences of speaking out, and of being accused of attempting to curb the ‘right’ to some extreme form of speech, religion or oppression. So, it appears inevitable, that we will be ‘sleep walked’ into a war for our very existence. 

Our fathers, grandfathers and their predecessors must be rolling in their graves.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Brain Drain

My thanks to Josephus for a couple of recent reports and articles on matters close to both our hearts. The first was an item on the finally published report on the tragic deaths of firefighters in Warwickshire in 2007. The report states, inter alia, that the Fire and Rescue Service training system had become limited in scope, and required significant review. It went on to say that the "Integrated Personal Development System" (IPDS) "competence based scheme" was not meeting the services' expectations as personnel were training to complete "portfolios" rather than focusing on "firemanship".

Funny that, this was exactly what both Josephus and I identified and argued when the scheme was first "rolled out" with great fanfare as the future of fire and rescue service training. The reality is that both of us were long enough in the tooth to have witnessed the failures of so-called "on station training" and "learning on the job" when not reinforced by formal progression training with examination and practical assessment. No amount of "ticks in boxes" can ever substitute for experience reinforced by knowledge, yet the champions of IPDS (all, one might add, rewarded with 'Honours' or very nice promotions and postings for their efforts) publicly declared that "knowledge of theory was unnecessary, you only had to know how to 'do' something".

Tragically, their wonderful scheme is now showing just how deeply flawed IPDS is. Deaths on duty have climbed steeply since its introduction and the scrapping of knowledge based examinations. There are other factors in play as well, however, one being played out right before our eyes at the present moment. While, on the surface, the battle over Fire Service Pensions appears to be simply about changing the retirement age, it is part of a much deeper ailment. It is now openly declared that a fire fighter should not expect to spend his/her entire career in the service. One young HR Director (in my day this post would have been filled by a crusty and battle scarred SDO or ACFO), blithely told me at a meeting that she discouraged people from thinking they could expect a 30 year career and a pension. In her view it was "healthy" for the Service to have a high staff turnover. Worryingly, at least in the meeting, the CFO of the FRS concerned, agreed with her!

Which brings me to the second article. It is rather long, and can be read here with the title "Inside the World of HR" . The author opens with the experience of Tesco, just a few years ago set to take over the world - or so it seemed - but now in deep trouble financially. The article identifies one of the major flaws that has entered business in the last 40 or so years - the haemorrhage of knowledge and experience due to high staff turnovers. The author cites several studies conducted by scientific bodies which identify that fact that any organisation actually 'owns' about 10% of its "knowledge" - the other 90% is in the heads of its employees. Now most employers will argue they "own" that as well, but the fact is they don't, and can't. Each individual has developed special and unique experience, it cannot be transmitted in any other way than the much maligned "sitting next to Nelly" system of sharing. Add to this now the most revealing findings of the studies cited in the article I've linked.

Most major organisations have a 15% per annum change of staff. The authors of the study from which that comes argue that this is a success; according to them, it makes business more flexible and less likely to be "locked into" the past. However, what they don't acknowledge is that it takes, on average, only 7 years for any organisation to undergo a complete change of staff at that rate. With that goes all knowledge of what worked and what didn't work in the past. Thus, as with Tesco, wheels get reinvented, mistakes get repeated and ultimately, a successful and healthy business ends up in trouble.

The reason is quite simple. It takes at least a year (in the FRS it is regarded as 2 years for a recruit firefighter and, in the past, a further 4 years as a firefighter before you could be considered for promotion) for a newcomer to an organisation to learn the ropes and become fully productive. Now comes another devastating statistic - in all the studies cited the maximum length of time most spend in an organisation is 5 years. So, as an employer and, if I'm lucky, my new recruit today, will have just reached his/her most useful range of knowledge and experience when they depart, taking 90% of the knowledge and experience I could use, with them. As the author of the article shows by example after example, this haemorrhage of knowledge and experience is steadily destroying organisations.

There are a number of factors at work here, among them the prominence and power of accountants who see everything in the short term and in terms of "cost". Pensions "cost" so the solution, for an accountant, is make sure you have only the minimum numbers qualifying for one. Experienced and long serving employees "cost" in terms of higher salaries, benefits and "on costs" such as pension contributions - so reduce the number you have on the books as much as possible. Then there is the whole question of "management" as a "profession" (and I'll confess that I have a number of "Management" qualifications). The academic belief that there is such a profession is, in my view, serious wrong. "Management" is a function, not a "profession", and, if one cares to look at the most successful managers in the world they are all people who have a very wide understanding and deep experience of the things they manage. If you want examples of poor management practice, look no further than an organisation which has "generalist" managers parachuting into senior roles with little or no understanding of what they are managing.

I was amused to see that the author of the article I have linked, cites the UK Civil Service as just such an example.

How does one fix this situation? I'm inclined to think it will require a major shift in thinking, and a return to the idea that a career is for life and not just a short term step on the ladder to the next "job". It will require a total rethink in what is being taught in MBA and various other "Management" courses, and it will require a complete change of direction in "Human Resources" so that the value of retaining staff, and the knowledge and experience they hold will be seen. It is perhaps too much to hope for that the "short-termism" of our western business culture can also be eroded and the longer vision held by other cultures adopted.

Answers on a post card please ...