Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

How the Department of Transportation ruins everything

Bureaucracy: rule by bureau.

Bureau means: specialized administrative unit; especially : a subdivision of an executive department of a government agency that serves as an intermediary for exchanging information or coordinating activities

In a democratic state, the definition above has a darker meaning. Bureaus are not elected, they are appointed. A prime and excellent feature of the US government is that it has 3 facets: executive, legislative, and judicial, all of which take office by democratic process. Further, though each has power to rule, only the one, the legislative, has the power to tax. Thus, they compete for the same limited resources, and the power to rule is limited by democratic process as well as by real budget constraints.

Bureaucracy side steps both. A good example, oddly enough, is licensing. The DOT is a bureau appointed by the State to rule one specific action of the states services. I say rule rather oversee because oversee would mean that they simply represent will of the elected government. The DOT, however, has its own agenda which is independent of the elected local government. Further, the DOT is capable of generating its own funding, through the sale of licenses. Generally, the act of selling something is not considered tax. But since the DOT sales a product that you are (1.) Required to have, and (2.) you are not allowed to get from anyone else. Yeah, um thats tax.

So the DOT policies are written with help from the US DOT (also not elected). It has the power to tax (through licensing fees). Oh, and a large, armed police force, and the right to search vehicles without warrant.

Bureaus, like all other human institutions, are not evil. They may do good or evil to the degree that they are capable of action, but selfishness is the easiest path for a person or an organization to take. The actions of a person or group of people are usually bound not by law, but by the relationship of cost to benefit for a given action. For example, when criminal acts have very high compensation, they become more appealing, and the cost of breaking the law is raised or the conditions that make the compensation so high are changed.

Bureaus are appointed, not elected. Thus, their policies tend to selfishness. Bureaus expand, but the service they provide rarely, if ever, expands equally. The electoral process puts a constant assessment on a person/group which tends to slow this down. Since bureaus aren’t elected or run for profit, the incentive is to grow larger and larger. Since efficiency tends to cut manpower (and thus funding) there is a huge incentive for inefficient operation at every possible level.

This has a profound application for a nation at war…

Power and money tends to center around people with access to power and money. Thus, a social or regime change rarely causes deep change. Business leaders need government to provide social conditions which ensure profit. Government leaders need business leaders to provide business conditions which ensure tax. When the government changes, the businessmen largely stop giving protection money to the old corrupt bureaus because they are swept away with the old regime. Since a government exists to provide services, this, in fact, actively encourages the business community to encourage a regime change if it makes the business climate better by providing the same (nominal) service with less overhead. (However, with time, the new regime falls to bureaucratic bloat, the cycle repeats.)

Thus, my point, finally.
All other things being equal, if two states are waring, the state with the youngest bureaucracy wins. Bureaucracy represents a parasitic loss of government revenue. Since both governments have a finite source of revenue the one whose government services function with the lowest overhead will not only have more money to fund the war and more money to fund social programs that encourage victory indirectly, but good ideas will move faster to execution and good people will go from a nobody to a leader more quickly.

NOTE government services do not necessarily need to exist to be efficient. The government cannot waste money it doesn’t have. Government A has vast social programs, run at 80% efficiency. Government B has zero social programs. Since Government B does not lose 20% of its revenue in waste, it has the more efficient government, and all other things being equal will win the conflict.


April 16, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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