The effulgent beauty of market forces

I moved into an area of economic policy which displayed the appearance of swans sojourning in limpid waters. Languidly preening, watching their own reflections in a leisurely fashion, they projected an air of calm superiority. These were the mandarins of market-force fine-tuning .

It took me a year to find out that I was in trouble with my chief, another year to find out why, and a third year to escape into another area! Beware a silent dog or still waters!

… I had made my chief emotionally upset; yet no sound ever escaped his lips. He did not tell me for a whole year that he wasn’t happy with my work (or why). And at no stage was I given targets for my work. There were no objectives stated, no targets of output, the timing of any exercise or anything else that I considered relevant (and I had been a proven manager for a few years).

It was quite a shock to suddenly find myself in such a weird area, and without any of the hierarchy asking why there was such a delay in output. In that establishment, there was also an interesting chap who seemed to think that he was God; sometimes I think that he knew he was God.

My fellow workers all had first-class economics degrees. But human behaviour seemed to confound most of them. But that was no problem, as market forces would drive the machine; all they had to do was to fine tune the pace from time to time (so I was told by them).

As soon as some institutional (sociological) change occurred, however, things went awry. For example, when savings bank accounts rose one year, consistent with theory (based on a finding some time previously), inflation was said to be around the corner. Why? These savings bank accounts were held by ordinary folk, and they spent most of the money. A rise in these savings meant that increased consumption expenditure would subsequently follow. So, batten the hatches.

However, no attempt to run down these savings and to increase consumption expenditure was made. So, in the press, there was the claim that the Australian people had been irrational – they had not behaved ordinarily. It is never the fault of the bureaucrat.

… When personnel management finally came to know of my difficulties with my boss, I was assisted in finding a job where I could see results for my work, and where I dealt again with the real world: the private sector. “To run away is not glorious, but very healthy,” say the Russians. I was to spend eight satisfying and interesting years in this new area.

(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ allow me to claim how prescient Jung was. He said that, about the age of 40, one tends to see where one is (in terms of career or lifestyle) in relation to where one has come from, and to often decide on a change of trajectory of one’s life-path. Three of my friends had done that, one taking a much lower income in order to follow a particular interest.

In my case, I fell into a hole ‘which had not been there.’ Before I got out of it, I began to involve myself in civil society. In the next 7 years, I recovered my confidence fully through my substantial contributions in a number of diverse areas of societal interest, thereby acquiring new skills (more about this later). Here was evidence of how tribulation can maketh the man – or words to that effect!

I would not have acquired these skills or made the contributions attributed to me if I had not got into the wrong job, with the wrong people. Was I on a pre-determined developmental trajectory or was I just a great busy-body survivor?)