29 May 2016

The Oracle of Brunei and The Prophet of Boswarlos #nlpoli

You know that the local news media are hard up for stories when they  post the musings about the current budget of somebody from Newfoundland currently swanning it in Brunei.

Well, it helps that the body is former Conservative finance minister Charlene Johnson, but if you look at what she said, it's hard to understand why she got any attention.

There are three things to notice about Charlene's ideas on how to save a penny or two that the local media didn't mention.

First,  Charlene was a cabinet minister for the whole time the Conservatives were spending roughly $2.0 billion more than we could afford each year.  She was a cabinet minister every year of the whole time when the government had trouble making ends meet with oil well above $100 a barrel.  You have to wonder why the Oracle of Brunei and her colleagues in the Facebook exchange - like former cabinet minister Joan Shea a.k.a. the Prophet of Boswarlos - never managed to get a single one of their brilliant ideas into force when they were in a position to do something about it.

Second,  take a look at the ideas.

"Regionalisation" of services.  We have been at it for 60 years.  This line is like the insights from pollster Don Mills  - another of Charlene's acquaintances from government days - who thinks we should pull people out of the little villages and cluster them in the towns along the highway on the island.  Maybe we could call them "growth centres" or something catchy.  Like that hasn't been going on since the 1950s, too. Those towns Don loves are the result of precisely the kind of policy he thinks would be new.

Charlene thinks it would be a great idea to let people register their cars for two years at a time. Double the money this year,  she notes.  Yes, and then you have to go looking for that same amount next year.  Buddy won't be renewing his licence, will he?

Oh, yeah.

Didn't think about that.

Recycling tourism ads.  Another big one with Charlene pretending to know something about advertising, where "penetration" is supposedly a key idea.  Make everyone in government fly in the cheapest seats on the plane, all the time.  Slash the House of Assembly.  Charlene thinks we could save a bundle by not mailing things at all or mailing less.  Free vaccinations would be a good idea, paid for by chopping out money from some "line item" in health and giving it to the pharmacists.

As the always-polite labradore noted on Friday,  Charlene would save a mere $16 million if she wiped out the House of Assembly entirely. We can almost double that saving by adding a complete halt to any tourism advertising at all.  Not only is this stuff really small potatoes but when you start talking about paying for one thing by chopping another, you'd have to consider the impact of what you cut out of the "line item" for "hospitalizations" in order to fund the vaccinations brain fart that came, it seems from her old friend now running the local pharmacists' association.

Crucial to all this would be making sure you hit your target offers the former cabinet minister.  Here's Charlene in her own words:
Further to this there should be a tracking mechanism put in place to show whether the program achieved the intended outcomes. More on tracking and monitoring another time from me as control systems is an area I am studying now and the province has such a long way to go.
This is a penetrating insight into the obvious. But more importantly:
  • Government is supposed to be doing this already.  It is Management 101.
  • Charlene's crowd were notorious for creating "plans" and "strategies" that had no goals and were therefore unmeasurable.
  • "Control systems is an area I am studying now."  Not while she was in government.  Now.  In Brunei, while she does whatever it is she is doing when Charlene isn't posting her insights on Facebook and sharing them with her other Conservative party friends.  Mighta been an idea to pay attention to this in say 2008.  This is pure Ryan Cleary stuff, like when he started reading the only book that tells the story of building Churchill Falls years after he'd been mouthing off about Churchill Falls.
  • "The province has such a long way to go."
That last bit is an understatement that makes all the other understatements in the world look bold.  it has a longer way to go than it did before 2003 because people like Charlene Johnson were running the place.

That's the third thing to notice.  Even after more than a decade in government, most of that in cabinet, Charlene and all her friends clearly have no idea about what is going on in the province. Not a clue. The very best they can come up with is the sort of stuff you get from people who only know about government what they got from the Moon Man on Open Line.

Maybe even less.

All Charlene and her friends seem able to do is confirm precisely how profound was the ignorance that got got us into this mess in the first place.  Oh yeah, and one of the most arrogant cabinet ministers among a gang known for their unbridled arrogance has only confirmed just how unwarranted that arrogance really was.