Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Canadian Values Won't Work Here

This week public television aired an interview with President and Chief Executive Officer of Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada Joseph Iannicelli. His company is a major provider of financial services and employee benefits to Canadians. Mr. Iannicelli argued the point that leaders are born, not made. He admitted that courses and training in leadership can have some effect but that the leadership genes are either there or they are not. I personally found the idea repulsive from a values-based perspective.

Fortunately for us, almost all American business leaders would strongly disagree with Mr. Iannicelli. In fact our business and economic model is based on the premise of developing leadership within the ordinary gene pool of that group we call our employees. We believe in individual ingenuity and the power of each individual to aspire to the greatest potential to which they may be able to achieve. When we work our way to the front of the line, no one tells us “sorry that’s all there is; this is the end of the line”.

It struck me that this interview was an example of why the fundamental Canadian systems of business management of business management do not work here in the United States and why their health care system would be equally objectionable. It is not our point to get into a discussion of sociology, but it seems obvious that anyone who wants to avoid a Hillary Clinton style disaster in a proposal to reform our health care system must pay attention to the fundamental differences in beliefs between Americans and those people around the world who have adapted to a universal health care system. I just can’t see us accepting it, and I hope we never do. It would be a great defeat for the American free spirit.

Whether managing a business or managing a national health care system, one method that will not work is to say “you just don’t have what it takes”. I am proud that our health insurance plans allow a patient to pursue the best course of treatment with any provider anywhere in the country without a limit on cost or the probable outcome based on my genetic makeup.

In short, I am glad that neither my career nor my heath care are managed based on factors outside my personal control.

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