Scam Syndrome


Sir, - A common disease underlies several concerns that have recently appeared on this page: the dreaded syndrome known as Self-Contradictory Administrative Malaise, or SCAM. This features the self-righteous espousal of high standards, combined with the practice of lowgrade bullying, interference or intimidation guaranteed to undermine those same standards.

The roads around Blackrock, formerly noted for their fine efflorescence of potholes, are now disfigured by sharp little ramps that jolt cars travelling at speeds both legal and safe. The punishment of safe drivers is clearly meant to inculcate a sense of responsibility, into boy racers. It also assists, as Sean MacCarthaigh noted (An Irishman's Diary, September 22nd) in the privatisation of public resources, which is the essence of responsible citizenship in the post-Thatcher era.

Next, take the DART into town. Use a 10-journey ticket to save everybody's queueing time. If you need to check how many journeys you have left, just glance at the back of the ticket, and try to read the information through the heavy black print, littered across the card, reminding you that IT'S YOUR DART and urging that you DON'T RUBBISH IT.

At the University where I work, if I visit the Gents, I find various hortative graffiti. I am to look after my heart and insist on safer sex, but am simultaneously reminded that SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS WRONG (which I never would have known), and warned to STOP IT. This kind of vague threat is obviously designed to foster the sense of trust and community which will prevent the exploitation of those in our care.

Meanwhile, in Belfast, a brave new management team is sacking some of the more selfless, loyal and hard-working members of Queen's University, in the name of "quality". Henceforth only the self-directed academic is to survive. This will doubtless work wonders for the ethos of generous co-operation and time-consuming service on which the effective quality of the institution, including the education of its students, largely depends.

What next on the SCAM agenda? Sack the brass section of the National Symphony Orchestra because they don't play as high as the oboes? Ban the piccolo, muffle the timpani and remove the left-hand cymbal, thus minimising damage to the audience's eardrums? Come to think of it, why not decommission the Army's guns and replace them with popup flags reading "BANG-BANG, YOU`RE DEAF!" - Yours, etc., Cormac O Cuilleananaain,


Co Dublin.