COB-26: bureaucracy begins at home

Important recent economic research has affirmed the foundations of bureaucracy.  You might think that more home-based labor-saving technology would decrease the amount of time spent on work within the home (home production).  That is not true.  A thorough and careful study of available data shows that “per capita time spent in home production increased slightly over the [twentieth] century.”  The study observes:

Time spent in housework by housewives fell by only six hours per week during the period of rapid diffusion of electricity, indoor plumbing and appliances.[*]

What’s undoubtedly happened is that persons have discovered new ways to make more work for themselves. This process of innovation and discovery is at the heart of bureaucracy.  It begins within the home in organizing housework.

collection of goods under sink

We are disappointed with the quality of this month’s submissions to the Carnival of Bureaucrats. In a submission entitled 10 Things To Remove To Create Engagement, Anna Farmery at the Engaging Brand Blog refers to “bureaucracy creep.” That phrase is deeply offensive to women and men in organizations everywhere. There is nothing creepy about bureaucracy. Remember, bureaucracy is an intimate part of modern home life. Ms. Farmery observes:

Nothing irritates, nothing reduces employee engagement more than reports to be written and meetings that people have got to go to, but no one knows why….

Why is a question for children. Mature, experienced bureaucrats do not ask why.

Laurie Bartels at Sharp Brains, the Brain Fitness Authority, offers a post entitled Neurogenesis and Brain Plasticity in Adult Brains. This post has no relevance to bureaucrats. Ms. Bartels notes:

Adults may have a tendency to get set in their ways – I’ve been doing it this way for a long time and it works, so why change? Turns out, though, that change can be a way to keep aging brains healthy.

Change, however, tends to disrupt organizations. If bureaucrats want change, they should seek it on their own time.

In An Institutionalist View of The Wire, Michael at the The Sympositorium remarks:

institutions, due to their very nature, are self-entrenching and path-dependent. In this way, they tend to outlast and wear down the individual participants acting within them.

That may be true, but people have to be sacrificed for the sake of organizations.

Louise Manning at the Human Imprint considers the sustainability of the global food supply model. Fortunately, most industrialized countries have retained large departments of agriculture. So extensive expertise and experience is likely to be dedicated to analyzing this issue.

David P. Reed has a blog post noting that he filed formal comments commending FCC action. We applaud Mr. Reed’s appreciation for bureaucrats. We believe such action should be much more general and much more common. We ardently seek submissions of this sort to the Carnival of Bureaucrats.

That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats. Submit your blog article to the next edition using our carnival submission form. Submissions should conform to the Carnival’s regulations. Past editions of the Carnival of Bureaucrats can be found on the Carnival’s category page.


[*] See Ramey, Valerie A., Time Spent in Home Production in the 20th Century: New Estimates from Old Data (April 2008). NBER Working Paper No. W13985. Available at SSRN: Quotes from abstract and p. 39.

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