The Theory and the Practice

A couple of my former university colleagues are currently studying for an MBA. An MBA is a Masters in Business Administration. Both of them have full time jobs working for public affairs bodies. I’m assuming they get paid reasonably well.

I am quite sure that neither of them would ever have the confidence or the audacity to run their own business. In many ways, I don’t see the point. The MBA appears to be a way people who would never make it in self employment can pretend they understand what it’s like. The MBA allows people to get on their high horse and proclaim that they know what they’re taking about when in fact they have no clue.

I am not sure why I am feeling so stand offish about something like this. Maybe it’s because of what it represents. The culture of study versus practice. That somehow just reading about something gives you the right to opine against someone who’s been there and done that.

I increasingly come up against such individuals in business. They usually take the form of bank employees. But they also infest our government, our local authorities, and other public agencies. They don’t know how hard it is to have absolutely no idea whether your next invoice is your last. They have no idea about the difficulties of believing in something whilst others doubt you, and wish you’d just get a real job.

These are the people who sit in judgement on our bank applications, credit card applications, mortgage applications, or devise ludicrously complex and bureaucratic schemes that businesses get wrapped up in and have to deliver for the sake of doing the government’s job for them.

There are many examples. The whole VAT system turns most businesses into tax collectors. MCS accreditation is full of excessive and duplicative paperwork. Insurance and health and safety regulations are nothing other than an arse-covering exercise, designed to ensure you won’t carry the can if your attention to manically writing everything down, methodically and verbosely is better than the company or individual or doesn’t.

I sound like a cranky libertarian. I am not, but I am a liberal with a small l. I believe in the importance of government to protect the powerless, and encourage equality of outcome and opportunity. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.

But there is a sensible line to be drawn. There is now too much over thinking and over predicting. The law is too prescriptive, because no government wants to take the blame for the smallest inconsistency.

And it all has something to do with those in power not really trusting in people, and our general ability to make the right call for our own lives and those around us.

Freedom has reasonable constraints. We must come together and sacrifice a little for the environment, for example. We all have to pay tax for the good of keeping society running.

But let’s try and be more honest about it. Let’s say we can’t pay for public pensions, so we will have to put tax up, rather than devising yet another convoluted “pension” scheme and forcing people to sign up for it.

There are many reasons why I think this. Business has taught me to evolve my views a little… but at heart it has actually reinforced the vast majority of my ideology.

All good fun.