Bureaucracies 'Я' US

A lot of people have been citing this post by Doctor Zero (which I first saw linked at Instapundit), and I can see why. It is one of the best explanations of the central problem which I think is facing the country, and it bears repeating, and repeating:

Bureaucracies grow through failure. They present failure as a rationale for increased budgets, which they must spend with gusto, in order to submit an even bigger budget the following year.
By definition, growing strong through failure is the strongest possible form of strength. While it might seem impossible to combat, its one major weakness is that it relies on camouflage. The failures of bureaucracies are never blamed on or admitted to be in any way the result of the bureaucracies themselves, but are seen as new challenges facing us all. The reason people accept that at face value is because most citizens are people of good faith, who genuinely want to believe that the government is working for us all.

When he was here at Ann Arbor, Barack Obama summarized this mentality quite well:

When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us. We, the people -- (applause.) We, the people, hold in our hands the power to choose our leaders and change our laws, and shape our own destiny.

Government is the police officers who are protecting our communities, and the servicemen and women who are defending us abroad. (Applause.) Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe.

Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them. (Applause.) Government is this extraordinary public university -- a place that's doing lifesaving research, and catalyzing economic growth, and graduating students who will change the world around them in ways big and small. (Applause.)

So if you hate the bureaucracies, you don't merely hate those who are trying to help you, you also hate yourself!

Hating bureaucracy is thus profoundly immoral, and morality is what this is all about. Back to Doctor Zero:

The true business of government involves converting limited authority, granted through reason, into a limitless moral imperative. The Founders were very logical men. Both the Constitution and Bill of Rights are tightly reasoned documents. So were the original charters of government agencies which have since swollen to grotesque size. A calm, logical application of Constitutional principle would have prevented this... but when government transforms itself into a moral enterprise, people become willing to let it bypass its restrictions. Thus, NASA began with a clear mission whose success was easily measured - is space travel advancing or not? It ends in a great, gelatinous mass of international outreach and Muslim self-esteem, open-ended projects that will never require less funding in any future year.
The transformation from reasoned limitations to moral authority allows the State to abandon logic in the application of fundamental rights, such as property rights. If the State respected the property rights of all citizens equally, it could not exist in its current form. Redistribution would be impossible. A government restrained by reason would be expected to complete its tasks quickly and efficiently, like a private contractor. Its agencies would be terminated for failure, freeing up resources to be allocated elsewhere. Instead, the crusading government brings us trillion-dollar Wars on Poverty that don't reduce poverty, trillion-dollar stimulus bills that don't stimulate anything, and massive departments blending into a Rorschach inkblot of mission creep. None of its agencies will ever complete an assignment, and no amount of money we give it will ever be enough.
It's like a giant, out-of-control oil spill that cannot be capped, no matter what we do. Except we don't see it that way. Oil is icky and messy, and it's our fault because we are the consumers.

The difference between oil and government bureaucrats, of course, is that oil has inherent value. The unelected rulers are precisely the opposite, as they suck away value -- the goal being socialism. Their "productivity" is measured by the elimination of all productivity, and thus, when their programs result in "failure," that means they are succeeding!

This class is growing by leaps and bounds, and if there's one thing they know, it's that they are entitled to have power. But the free market has no use for them, so their unelected jobs must come from government or from the myriad of entities relying on government support.

To follow my cynicism out, if we take it as a given that socialism does not work, but that it is imposed by government, what generally happens when government programs don't work? Why, new programs to fix the old programs, of course. The government will "fix" the problems the government creates. Seen this way, imposing socialism guarantees a vast expansion of the innumerable busybody classes -- especially if it doesn't work. It explains why they have to have socialism.

And the fact that socialism doesn't work, why, it's not a bug, it's a feature!

(And much as it kills me to be fair, I have to admit that if the goal is endless expansion of government, socialism does work!)

It will take more than voting to get rid of them, because they are not elected. The maximum theoretical amount of change that could be accomplished by voting would be the replacement of the legislative majority and the head of the executive branch. And regardless of whether these changes took place at state or a federal levels, the people who are elected do not have the power to fire bureaucrats or renege on union contracts, nor could they be counted on to do anything which might seriously rock that great boat on which we all ride eventually. The USS Entitlement.

Despite the growing uproar, I'm not at all sure that even a brand-new Congress could do what is advocated here:

Salaries and benefits--for identical jobs--are 30 percent to 40 percent higher in the federal government than in the private sector. Claims that this dramatic discrepancy in compensation is warranted because of government workers' high skills are unjustified, as this study shows. Equally unjustified is the fact that federal workers can rarely be fired, no matter how poor their job performance. Congress should align federal salaries and benefits with market rates--a simple, and fair, move that could save taxpayers nearly $47 billion in 2011.
If the bureaucrats were ever forced to admit their unfair advantage over the private sector, I'm sure they'd offer an easy solution to the problem: simply require the private sector to conform to the same standards the government sets for its own employees!

After all, as the president says, the government is all of us!

Better get with the program!

UPDATE: Sean Kinsell links this post in "Get outta my way" -- a great discussion of education -- and Japan! Thanks, Sean!

posted by Eric on 07.11.10 at 11:58 AM










Comments

Is catastrophe the only escape?

Brett   ·  July 11, 2010 12:14 PM

Brett,

Yes.

Crawdad   ·  July 11, 2010 1:30 PM

Have you seen my latest? Just click next entry.

The CV serendip strikes again.

M. Simon   ·  July 11, 2010 2:00 PM

The Bible is John Gall's _Systemantics_ wiki .

Many editions. The earlier ones seem better, having grown less.

I think Gall was at Ann Arbor.

The book's only failing is that it can't decide if it's serious or another Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown. Take the serious side.

My favorite bit:

Orwell's Inversion: the confusion of input and output:

Example: A giant program is to Conquer Cancer is begun. At the end of five years, cancer has not been conquered, but one thousand research papers have been published. In addition, one million copies of a pamphlet entitled ``You and the War Against Cancer'' have been distributed. Those publications will absolutely be regarded as Output rather than Input.

rhhardin   ·  July 11, 2010 7:35 PM

Just bought it, rh. Thanks for the tip!

Eric Scheie   ·  July 12, 2010 11:08 AM

Post a comment


April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

ANCIENT (AND MODERN)
WORLD-WIDE CALENDAR


Search the Site


E-mail



Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link



Archives



Recent Entries



Links



Site Credits