Everybody tries to avoid dealing with incompetent people. In some occupations, incompetence is easy to recognize and the cost of incompetence is easy to measure. When airplanes crash, the cost is measured in lives. There are other costs to air accidents that are measured in money. Modern jet aircraft are expensive, and investigations into air disasters take thousands of hours. In every case of incompetence, somebody has to pay.
Who is responsible for incompetence? The purpose of an air accident investigation is to discover why the crash occurred. Sometimes pilots are to blame. Sometimes air traffic controllers made a mistake, or radar malfunctioned. Sometimes the aircraft was improperly maintained. Sometimes the cause of the crash was a design flaw, and the manufacturer is to blame.
Who pays? When airplanes crash, the people on board pay with their lives. The airline and insurance companies pay cash settlements to survivors and families. Airlines that lose airplanes also lose business, as passengers switch to other airlines or don’t fly at all.
The aviation industry uses many methods to minimize incompetence, and one way is by hiring pilots with appropriate credentials.
In other occupations incompetence may be harder to recognize. If a contractor does a poor job putting a new roof on your house, how would you know? You will know it is a poor job if the work looks bad or the roof leaks right away, but is it a poor job if the roof starts leaking in a year? What if the leaks start after five years? What if they start after ten years?
Is the contractor responsible? Where does their responsibility end? Will they take the blame for the leaks? Will they pay for repairs? Will they pay for other damage caused by the leak? At what point does the roof become your responsibility? In any event, when there are problems with your roof somebody will have to pay, and its probably you.
How do you recognize competence in contractors? How can you minimize your risk of getting a poor roofing job? It helps to hire a contractor with appropriate credentials, if you can figure out which credentials they should have.
Incompetence is always expensive, and somebody always has to pay. This holds true for even the most basic occupations. If restaurants hire incompetent dishwashers and kitchen help, next time you go out for dinner you could find yourself eating badly cooked food from a dirty plate. Are you comfortable with food poisoning?