Cognitive dissonance

THIS is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time. And I have been having this feeling for several months about the modus operandi of the Government.

I am happy for the 1300 or so employees of Fiji Airways who will receive substantial bonuses as the airline made a record profit. That is cause for celebration. The management and staff members are going to get a bonus of more than $9000 each.

This also bothered me as that is more than what the majority of the employees in Fiji make. Their annual income hovers about $7000. Of course, the Government has raised the ceiling for tax-free income but a majority of the workers make under $12,000

The Government of the day needs to be commended for introducing the minimum wage and the ERP 2007 to safeguard the interests of employees from unfair treatment, sexual harassment, etc.

They have done more for the employees than all of the previous governments. They are probably responsible for 80 per cent of the positive things that have happened.

And so the Pareto principle comes to mind. This is a principle named after the economist Vilfredo Pareto that specifies an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. The principle states that 20 per cent of the invested input is responsible for 80 per cent of the results obtained.

Surprisingly, this can be universally applied ? 20 per cent of the staff members earn 80 per cent of the salary and the other 80 per cent get 20 per cent. The 20 per cent of the staff members did 80 per cent of the work and the other 80 per cent did 20 per cent of the work.

This is why if you had to pick someone to finish an urgent task, ideally you should be able to give it to anyone. But that is not the case.

You will consider who the most trustworthy and dependable would be and give the task to that person. Au contraire, you would not give it to the 80 per cent group. So there is an inequity in the job distribution and performance.

I believe the previous governments belonged to the 80 per cent group, did not perform up to par. Then FijiFirst came in with a robust, progressive and visionary agenda and things started to happen.

As they did more and more, the demands on them went up. Just like productive employees (20 per cent) are asked to multitask and the mediocre ones (80 per cent) are relegated to other chores.

I also had this feeling of cognitive dissonance when the Nadi International Airport was declared to be one of the most improved in the whole world. That, by any standards, is no small feat and we can be justifiably proud of it.

It exudes class, elegance and sophistication and is very necessary as we cater to so many tourists. But how many of the local Fijians use it? It is mostly Fijians who have migrated to other countries.

My unscientific guess would be less than 5 per cent. Most of the others just go to the airport to receive and send off friends and relatives.

On the other hand, I believe our hospitals which are used by the majority of the Fijians are in pathetic condition and have been referred to unceremoniously as highways to heaven. Most of the well-to-do residents get their medical treatment overseas.

Some Fijians go to private doctors but the majority have to go to the hospitals and health centres. It certainly makes them pray a lot ? a rather dubious benefit.

Overall, I believe the Government has done quite a satisfactory job. So is my cognitive dissonance unfounded? I have mixed feelings about that.

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