2014 has been a busy and eventful year. Technocrats all over the world have been scrambling to handle one issue or another. Dealing with disasters, bad economies, city bankruptcies, social and economic inequality, and the odd transition from one elected (or not) government to another. Overall the world has kept spinning narrowly avoiding complete catastrophe only by the skin of its teeth and largely depending on sheer grit to power through. As a relative new technocrat (I’ve only been doing this for the last 5 years) this seems to be the worst way for any society or the global society to keep on moving in the new year, yet it would seem that nothing is going to change going into this new year. Unless it does.
My hope for the next year revolves around a few things:
- Governments worldwide wise up and start getting rid of arcane laws that don’t make sense, and aren’t needed. I think every government should have a department whose sole job is to go through statutes that are older than 20 years and suggest to the presiding elected government what laws and statutes need to be abandoned for prosperity to take root.
- That we start to look at welfare in the same way we look at tax breaks. Most governments and societies quite readily give tax breaks without accounting for the true costs and actual return of said tax breaks yet at the same time they penny pinch and measure every piece of welfare spending. It begs the question why we police one demographic of people more than the other.
- That governments act as both enablers and regulators. The role of technocrats is increasingly a complex one, some of which is brought on by ourselves, while for the most part it is a function of an increasingly fragmented society with fewer and fewer common denominators. Governments globally not only have to monitor for abuses but should be actively looking to incentivise (directly or indirectly) industries that provide more than simple economic goods.
- That people start to look at Silicon Valley as an ongoing experiment rather than a model that should be followed. People like to highlight the pros of the Valley and it’s ability to breed companies by the dozens on daily basis without actively taking into consideration the negative aspects of the type of economy that has been created there and the mentality of the companies there.
- That complete government efficiency might not be the holy grail of governance. The risk of complete efficiency is that it often leaves very little room for mistakes, innovation or even reflection. What it perpetuates is group think, cognitive biases, and excellence at given tasks. Complete efficiency would be great if the societal context in which we live never changed.
- Democracy and conventions that are typically related to democracies should be context specific. What works in one country will not always work in another. It may work if introduced over time, but there is little evidence from modern western democracies that their modus operandi is the most optimum form of democracy and we should not attempt to emulate them lock, stock and barrel. We should actively adopt positive aspects, which are often these days ignored, such as accountability, transparency (up to a point), checks against government overreach (largely ignored today) and equality of rights (where one person is treated the same as another under the law).
- Exploration of new social welfare systems and investigate implementing the best of the lot. Singapore today has a tiered welfare system which is a needs based system (largely following the US), but perhaps we should be looking at welfare systems as poverty avoidance programs. This introduces a very different psychological aspect to welfare and the people that will end up relying on it.
- Healthcare systems as one solution and not THE solution to a healthier population. Today, a lot of healthcare is centred around medical institutions like acute hospitals, community hospitals, rehab facilities and large government clinics. This is in my opinion the passive approach to health. If the government is truly interested in being involved and absorbing the healthcare cost of the population it has to be proactive. It has to incentivise healthy living, early screening and people who carry around less fat (rather than BMI specific). Old age care has to be in the homes of the aged, from railings, to anti-slip rugs, and more. We should old-age proof homes the same way we baby proof homes.
- People need to re-examine how the work and why they work. This current generation has an expected life expectancy of almost 83, and that is going to keep rising. The average adult is likely to go through 3 different careers in their lifespan. Are we even ready for that sort of change in the way jobs are designed, created and staffed? And if we are not, we should be actively trying to get there.
- Examining the link between the creative industries and the creating industries. People need to stop saying that one is better than the other or one is more important than the other. There is a great need for talent in both industries. Going forward we will need talented, programmers as well as plumbers, designers as well as machinist. The creative space is not one dimensional and no piece of work is a greater calling than another. We need to seek inspiration from our work to fuel our souls and not our egos.
Although I’m hopeful for a lot of things this year, these are the few that are high up on the list. I’m unlikely to find any of these changes happening in the coming year since I’m talking in a small part of the internet world and I’m not exactly at this point in time a person with the credentials to push my opinions. That being said, it’s always good to write down what you want so that you can keep it as a reference for the future so you’ll always know how far you’ve come.
That’s enough preaching from me. See you all in 2015 and beyond.