A good sign?

It is a piece of news that few have possibly noticed. It was likely overlooked by many of those who noticed it. The government has stated its intention to allow contracts with domestic workers to become automatically renewable. One may think, at first, that the fact is a relatively minor issue – which it is – and has, therefore, no relevance. There’s where I beg to disagree. In general, allowing contracts with workers to be renewable, if that is what was agreed to start with and is congruent with the nature of the job, is the natural thing to do. It should not require any further administrative interference. In fact, the question one could raise is what is the need or the purpose of the existing system, under which the renewal has to be requested and justified again and again. As with any other administrative procedure, it should be clear what kind of good or interest, presumably public, is protected or promoted by it. The request of authorisation for continuation of the contract, addressed to and processed by the Office of Human Resources, fails that test. Leaving the initial hiring aside, if a non-resident worker is involved, why would anyone have to ask that department for approval? Why would anyone have to justify, year after year, why he or she needed a domestic worker? The decision to hire – or continue to hire – a domestic worker, except under exceptional conditions, should be outside the remit of any public service. It is a matter of personal circumstances. That is hardly a subject where we would expect or want to see the government sticking its nose. These are private matters and choices where the administration should be kept at a healthy distance. It also happens that is good for the economy. I, for one, am better at teaching and writing than at ironing and performing other domestic chores (or so I presume). My maid, or so I like to think, is comparatively better than me at those jobs. Economics showed it definitely some two centuries ago: the economy benefits (and we all do, actually) when each one of us concentrates on the things one does better. What better justification? Ill conceived, that half-baked procedure achieved no more than asserting a meaningless power and annoying residents with a useless procedure, creating a pointless tension. That someone has, internally and at this juncture, asked the obvious – what is the use of this? – deserves to be noted; and then, presumably not getting any decent explanation, decided to change it, is something that we should salute. Maybe it is a good omen. Perchance common sense and a yearning for simplicity and transparency will lead other departments to ask the same question about their procedures and, hopefully, reach similar conclusions.