Carnival of the Bureaucrats #7

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer, is an inspiration to bureaucrats world-wide. The recipient last year of a 25-year service pin from Microsoft, Ballmer has been in the middle of immensely important developments. With Microsoft’s software, a large chain of managers can rapidly exchange edits to a document describing the feature set of an animated paper clip. Every day Microsoft’s software helps bureaucrats to process a much larger volume of documents than they would otherwise be able to handle.

Ballmer exemplifies the passion for an organization that distinguishes outstanding professional bureaucrats. What matters is not just who you are or what you do, because you know that you’re good and that you’re important. But what you really love is more than yourself. In the words of this month’s Bureaucrat of the Month, “I have four words for you: I LOVE THIS COMPANY!”

[if you don’t see the video, try here]

Jon Swift asks, “Who Needs Books?” Books are handy for propping open a door, giving your kid a bit more height at the kitchen table, and supplying emergency bath tissue needs. Neatly standing at attention on a bookshelf, books provide intellectually impressive room decoration (book titles also provide learned decoration for blog posts). Unfortunately, many government reports aren’t bound and issued as books. Government reports should be treasured nonetheless. More harmless satire? Mr. Swift, think again.

Corey discusses “The Problem With Anarchy (Short Version).” Corey observes:

People do not care about one another enough to live in a society where there is no government to be there for them. As depressing as that may be, it is true.

Cheer up! Government bureaucrats care about you. That’s why you’re in this carnival.

Leon Gettler observes, “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seems to have lost tens of millions of dollars through improper and fraudulent payments, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.” The Government Accountability Office is a government agency. Once again government bureaucrats are saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

Jack Yoest at Reasoned Audacity describes an astonishing educational initiative:

So instead of running away from the problem, my wife and I [the Amoses] decided to do something about it directly. My son brought home three boys, who needed the kind of support that our family could provide, and what we did was adopt them. And over an 11 year period we adopted 87 children into our home. We sent 73 kids to college, 61 have graduated from college, 14 have advanced degrees. I spent about $600,000 of my own money on this effort, another $400,000-some from Xerox, over a million dollars we’ve pumped into the D.C. public schools, prior to anything they’re doing with charter schools

But local government needed education too. Especially on the Amos no-nonsense business approach to solving problems on kids and schools. When the city children’s agency knocked on his door asking for his license to work with all the children (quietly studying) about his house — Amos shows them his driver’s license. The bureaucrats were not amused, but were eventually persuaded.

“I don’t need a license to raise my kids,” Amos told me as he tells the story. And he is right.

While those with questions about educational licensing should contact another bureau, I personally agree that Amos is right. A family with 87 kids requires a great wealth of love. Moreover, running that size household is an impressive bureaucratic achievement. For the record, Steve Ballmer just barely edged out Kent Amos for this month’s Bureaucrat of the Month.

In the midst of a recent blog kerfuffle about public relations (PR), Shel Holtz declares:

For me, one of the great frustrations of working in the PR profession is the number of people who think they understand it without the benefit of any background in it. Public relations is a field in which scholars devote their lives to researching models and theories. You can earn a doctorate in PR. The field of PR research has exploded to align effort with results. Associations collect volumes of case studies and analyses. The body of literature that comprises the study of PR is vast and rich.

Yet there is no shortage of people who have never studied the business, never read a single textbook, never attended a single workshop, who are ready and willing to tell the profession how to do its job.

Whether they have an advanced degree in public affairs or decades of experience, government bureaucrats regularly encounter exactly this situation.

Gary Becker, in a critique of libertarian paternalism, asserts:

Even best-intentioned government officials should be considered subject to the same bounds on rationality, limits on self-control, myopia in looking forward, and the other cognitive defects that are supposed to affect choices by us ordinary individuals. Can one have the slightest degree of confidence that these officials will promote the interests of individuals better than these individuals do themselves?

Yes. I have a high degree of confidence in hardworking, conscientious government bureaucrats.

Remarking, “Just something I heard two bureaucrats saying and thought of you all!” the Gnome reports:

Today, in the lift of a large council building he heard the following alarming news… “The bollard situation has now become critical – there are some people in this council who are working against us.”

A critical bollard situation? What could that be? Too many? Too few? The wrong kind? Is there a government appointed bollard tzar handling this critical issue on our behalf? Can we expect a bollard hotline to be set up, similar to the much lamented cone hotline initiative by the failing Major government of 1997?

Good questions. Citizen involvement contributes to good government. Ask not what government bureaucrats will do for you, but how you can help government bureaucrats to do what you want them to do.

That’s all for this month’s Carnival of the Bureaucrats. Submit your blog article to the next edition using the Carnival submission form. Submissions should conform to the Carnival regulations. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the Carnival index page.

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