Friday, July 03, 2009

Customers Count Too

There's no such thing as 'Fair'!

A Senior executive responded to a statement I made some years ago during a presentation. I was rationalizing a request for funding for a particularly complex, therefore challenging, piece of development work. My somewhat offhand comment was ‘Doesn’t That Seem FAIR?’. I learned that day that FAIR is not a Business rationale. It’s not even relevant. Her response was “FAIR went out in Grade Three“.

As in Toronto this month, when the garbage workers et al strike for more concessions there is no question of What‘s FAIR. Being FAIR means equity with others - an equilibrium or ‘give and take’ as part of surrounding realities. Unions want to lead regardless… get the best pay, the best pensions, medical plans and sick days - and if you’re not sick accumulate the days. Often it comes down to how much communities can stand, in this case, in stench. Inconveniences can be endured. Stench gets into the nostrils, into the kitchens, family and bedrooms of every nearby residence. It creates hazards for children, seniors and detracts from a world class City.

The solution isn’t one of fairness. It’s a question of where does the money come from? The unpopular choice, for politicians, is to take from other needy pockets or to raise taxes. In the case of garbage workers et al it’s a Municipal not a Provincial problem. Accountability is open for all to see. City Hall is accountable to thousands of stench smellers for a solution.

When the LCBO threatens to strike it becomes a Provincial problem. Even one day’s sales puts so much revenue into Queens Park coffers it’s unconscionable, for politicians, to have employees leave their posts. However, Accountability is a more difficult thread to unweave. As Ontarians saw with eHealth, Accountability becomes a public focus only when extreme overruns are exposed - usually by the media and not by the Ministries responsible. There are no ‘stench smellers’, ie. no public overseers of the LCBO.

The general public expects some Fairness in the LCBO response not realizing we’re long past Grade three. A solution in this case is Expediency. Solve the problem and get on with reaping revenues. Damn the torpedoes - resolve it ASAP!... No one will notice a few percentage points on the price of a bottle of liquor, wine or beer - and if they do, they can‘t do anything anyway. After all, liquor is a luxury. Let the Poor Drink Plonk!

I wonder… If all Ontarians abstained from buying any alcoholic beverage for a week would it send a message? Let’s have an ‘Abstinence Week’ - but that‘s not the emphasis is it? Perhaps it should be called, ‘Stop the Money Grab‘ week or 'Customers Count Too' week. You get the idea.

My Opinion, Ww

Note: The stated opinions do not intend to criticize or support any Union negotiating tactic or settlement. They intend to highlight the level of visible accountability in two situations, one a municipal and one a provincial.

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