Death by bureaucrat

June 23, 2012

The other night I was returning home pretty late in the evening, and as is my normal habit the radio in my vehicle was on a talk radio station. Since I get up early, work a full day, and don’t often stay up late, I’m not very familiar with the radio hosts who are on late in the evening. The only reason I make that point is to say that I honestly don’t know who I was listening to. Further confusing the issue, a lot of the evening shows on our local stations are re-broadcasts of shows actually aired earlier in the day, but not in our market.
Whoever the host was on this particular show, he and a guest were discussing busses and the regulations concerning them. Evidently there had either been some kind of recent tour bus disaster, or perhaps they were rehashing the events which had led up to one of the more tragic past wrecks.
Just as I didn’t know who the host was, I also didn’t catch the name or profession of the guest, but he appeared to know something about tour busses and the companies which operate them. After a few minutes of conversation, the guest had mentioned that the people who inspect busses (for the government) seemed to spend all of their time hassling and nitpicking at the operators who actually tried to keep their equipment safe and in compliance. He mentioned that other companies, with a reputation for poor maintenance, shoddy equipment, and lax attention to safety concerns seemed to slip beneath the radar, disregarding rules and regulations with impunity.
None of this was any surprise to me; in fact, I’m sure it’s true. What really grabbed me was when the host opined that he thought the inspectors would want to get some scalps on their belts by dealing with these non-compliant operators. His thought, as he explained it, was that the government inspectors would catch these fly by night bus operators, and either shut them down or bring them into compliance and these actions would lead to promotions and career advancements for the inspectors.
The reason all of this caught my attention so thoroughly was because of the obvious ignorance of the host concerning how a government, or really any bureaucracy, actually functions. I was pretty surprised that anybody who was enough of a commentator to have a political commentary show on talk radio, late night or not, clearly didn’t understand how bureaucracies (dis) function.
By the way, while these two people were discussing whatever arm of state and/or federal government which is supposed to oversee and regulate tour buses, the particular flavor of bureaucrat or bureaucracy makes little, if any, difference. All bureaucracies, whether public or private operate about the same. The difference is that in the private sector bureaucratic growth cannot continue past a certain level of inefficiency because at some point, when the organization grows too top heavy and can’t make a profit, it will fail, be shut down, or be reorganized. This is why you mostly find people with a true bureaucratic mindset working for some form of government. The capitalist system has little anti-bureaucrat white corpuscles running through it called “you turn a profit or are ejected” which makes the private sector much less inviting for people who have an obstructionist mentality. Government, on the other hand, nurtures and rewards obstructionism, inefficiency, and waste. As you can imagine, those conditions are a real draw to the born bureaucrat.
Apparently, there are exceptions to the ability of our capitalist system to cleanse itself of expensive, overstaffed, money losing bureaucracies. It would seem that in this day and age, as our government is sliding into outright socialism, the bureaucrats in the government admire any organization which, despite gross inefficiency, has managed to become quite large. In cases like that, the government under The Obama will reach out and prop up a business that would (rightfully) otherwise fail. I don’t know what the exact requirements are, or where the size cut off level is before the government offers this “help”, but clearly GM and a lot of banks made the cut. Now those businesses are quasi owned/ruled by the federal government under The Obama and his handpicked, unelected, regulators. Currently, under the Obama administration, GM is manufacturing an overpriced, underpowered, unsafe (apparently it has a tendency to burst into flames in the right type of wreck), electric car which is not selling. This is not the action of a well run company with its eye on the bottom line. It’s the action of a bureaucracy that thinks it can count on being propped up with tax dollars again if needed.
Just for an example of the other side of that coin, let’s take a look at Halliburton. Halliburton is a very large multi-national corporation that operates independently (or considering the state of regulations these days, maybe a better phrase would be in spite of) the government. Halliburton makes a profit for its investors, pays taxes, creating some of that revenue The Obama is always talking about, employs a lot of Americans in good paying jobs, who also pay taxes, and provides important goods and services. So how is Halliburton treated by government? Well, first, when the government or some part of the government needs something done in a hurry that its own bureaucratic employees can’t seem to do, they often call Halliburton. That’s what they do when they want something. The rest of the time, the left and the media are constantly attacking Halliburton. If you were to listen only to liberal politicians and the leftist media, it wouldn’t take you long to decide that Halliburton is one of the most evil organizations on the face of the earth. Unlike say, GM, which is building electric cars and is thus about to save the planet, and those ever-so-cute polar bears.
Just as the private sector has a built in safety valve to get rid of or reorganize bureaucracies that become too large and inefficient, the public sector (government) has a way of dealing with bureaucracies or employees who are trying to work efficiently. The radio host I mentioned above found it odd that the bus inspectors didn’t seem to spend their time actually regulating bus companies that needed it and improving the overall safety of the private (public sector) tour bus fleet. Doing as he described would have been what the inspectors are supposed to do, but if they did that, other people in their agency would have had to follow up on reports, communicate with other agencies or people in their own departments, and for a bureaucrat this is the worst part, might have actually had to work until, or gasp, even after quitting time on Friday.
While you and I might look on people doing their jobs as exactly what they should be doing, that’s not how it goes in the bureaucratic world. In a bureaucracy, when one or more people actually do their job, they are creating work for other employees of that same organization and will be regarded as trouble makers. In the private sector, nonproductive employees are eased out. In the public sector, it’s exactly the opposite, hard workers cause other people to have to do their jobs, and at the first opportunity, they will be “ganged up on” and fired.
By the way, anybody who doesn’t think bureaucracies operate as I have described should keep those thoughts firmly in mind next time they are arguing with the DMV, voter registration office, IRS, licensing office, local water department, county tax assessor, or etc.
What does all of this have to do with our current social and political problems? While bureaucrats and bureaucracies trying to invade the private sector is nothing new, under The Barack we have had an explosive growth in that intrusion coupled with a real lack of legislative (elected) oversight. Basically, government bureaucracy is running amuck, not just in the public sector, but in the private sector too. While we could certainly argue about whether this is intentional, or just a result of bad policy, either way the results are the same. Talking about how bureaucracies operate may seem like a pretty dull subject, but the fact is these “dull” and frustrating groups were slowly strangling the democratic capitalist system that helped make the United States the greatest country on the face of the earth. Under The Barack, the rate of bureaucratic strangulation has exploded. Dull or not, rolling back this sudden bureaucratic expansion is at least as important to the preservation of our freedoms as any other issue we face.

Bruce Kreitler is the author of Obamageddon (the Culmination of the Progressive Looting of America) and posts this and other articles at BruceKreitler.com.

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