The Cult of Efficiency
By Janice Gross Stein
This is a wonderful book that was part of the Massey Lectures Series at the University of Toronto. This book comprises of the 2001 Massey Lectures, “The Cult of Efficiency,” broadcast in November of 2001 as part of CBC Radio’s Ideas series. The producer of the series was Philip Coulter; the executive producer was Bernie Lucht.
The Cult of Efficiency investigates our concerns where waste is becoming something that is frowned upon and public trust has all but dissipated. Janice Gross Stein shows how the discussion of efficiency in the delivery of public goods, such as education and health care, has risen to prominence during the post-industrial society. She shows that when it becomes an end rather than a means, a value often more important than other values, and when we no longer ask the questions efficient at what or for whom, efficiency is simply reduced to a cult.
Efficiency has often become a cover up for political agendas of all kinds. In schools, community clinics, and hospitals, there are citizens all taking about efficiency. It is one of the most important buzz words out in our culture. Yet, is there really the kind of efficiency that we are seeking after? People in schools and hospital are calling not only for efficiency but also accountability and choice as they confront the dilemmas of dramatic processes in a global age. Can these be avoided?
This is a very provocative book, one that will make you think and take notice. It is a book that should be read by all who want to be informed about our culture. We don’t want to get lost in a culture that doesn’t really practice what it preaches, do we? Stein’s book will give us the tools to think for ourselves and critically about these issues.
Rating: 5 stars