The need for perfection plays out in strange ways. One of the common ones is to game a system that addresses a real need, but does so past the point of reasonableness.
Businesses and most people do not have the problem of over-solving problems. Governments do. Worse still for governments, they require a “fair” answer to every question presented. Fair answers lead to real and unfair problems.
Ontario has all sorts of government bodies and tribunals that attempt to force “fairness.” The human rights commission and the landlord and tenant board being two that come up regularly. It is not that fair treatment of tenants and reasonable equality of humans is a bad thing, it is that once you create a rule based system, people game the system. Not always the human rights abusers or the landlords either. Some individuals and tenants are quite skilled.
If you are a landlord and a residential tenant refuses to pay rent, what is a reasonable time that the condition should continue? According to the Toronto Sun, Rogers Afam Nwabue has paid nothing for 18 months and the divisional court recently ratified eviction. Michelle Williams went 25 months by using various artful dodges. Mr. Nwabue may approach that 25 month record too as he has appealed the ruling to a higher court. Most small landlords are in trouble when it comes to identifying who will be a problem. Worse, most cannot afford the loss of the rent. What is “Fair” in their context?
Human rights are not too different. The problem of human rights abuse is largely solved, but the commission remains busy with trivia and cases of implied bias. The pursuit of perfection in this arena is impossible without an objective intake system. Subjective abuse is untenable. In many of their cases, I doubt five objective people could agree that the complainant has raised a case of abuse of rights if how they felt about it was ignored as being too subjective.
A business would buy out a nettlesome problem. If I think you have no valid complaint, I might still pay you off to go away. A tribunal can’t do that even though it is often far more efficient.
People are imperfect. If the rules require perfection there will be an automatic problem in their application. If matching the best precedent becomes an issue, there will be a ratchet affect on settlements. It is like the equal pay for equal work question. You cannot precisely compare one fireman to another, yet they want to use that pay scale to determine how much librarians should earn.
Even carefully analyzed data will not resolve false equivalence situations. Inequality is a natural condition in the real world and is not addressable by rule. Less perfection, more common sense, please.
Absent common sense, it is powerful to hold yourself out as powerless.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
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