COB-36: classical beauty

Nothing is more attractive than the grandeur that was Roman bureaucracy. Reading through the Roman Notitia Dignitatum will inspire any bureaucrat with longing to return to that spiritual home.  In that holy land, the Master of Offices managed these organizations:

the first school of shield-bearers,
the second school of shield-bearers,
the school of senior gentiles,
the school of shield- and bow-bearers,
the school of mailed shield-bearers,
the junior light-armed school,
the school of junior gentiles,
the school of confidential agents
the surveyors and lamp-makers,
the bureau of memorials,
the bureau of correspondence,
the bureau of requests,
the bureau of assignments
the staff of ushers

and probably others as well.  The Master of Offices’ staff, made up from the school of confidential agents, included:

a chief assistant and other assistants, including two aids, three for the arsenals, four for the embroiderers in gold (for the diocese of the East one, for the diocese of Asia one, for the diocese of Pontus one, for the diocese of the Thraces and Illyricum one), an inspector of the public post in the presence, inspectors for all the provinces, and interpreters for various peoples.

The many bureaucrats serving in the time-honored position of servus vicarius can only thrill in imagination of the Roman cursus honorum.  The most promising young bureaucrats began their careers with ten years of service in the military. At age thirty, they were expected to move up to become a financial administrator and supervisor of public games.  At age thirty-seven they could become an administrator of public works.  Up several more steps was the pinnacle of a public career.  That was a job as a census bureaucrat:

The censors took a regular census of the people and then apportioned the citizens into voting classes on the basis of income and tribal affiliation. The censors enrolled new citizens in tribes and voting classes as well.

Byzantium is typically lauded for having a highly developed bureaucracy.  But in this aspect of life, Rome too was quite beautiful.  So the next time you’re filling out a form, or on the telephone, waiting on hold, remember the inspiring classical antecedents of it all.

In other bureaucratic posts for this month, Terry Telco reports on an employment support program at an anonymous telco:

you sit through a one hour meeting, where the first 15-25 minutes is spent figuring out how to get everyone on the call, saying hellos and general small talk, getting the silly collaboration “tools” working, planning for the next call, etc… and then you finally have the discussion where absolutely nothing happens because you’ve revisited a discussion that you had 20 times already over the past 2 years

Terry Telco calls that Terri-Tastic.  We call it simply terrific.

Epeus Epigone reports that a media leader has declared:

Companies that publish mainstream people’s interviews without paying a fee are the “parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet” and will soon be challenged

That’s totally ridiculous.  Processing what others say is a core bureaucratic function that has been at the heart of mass media for nearly two centuries.

Frank Furedi at Spiked writes about “how EU bureaucrats are destroying public life.”  He argues that only 43% of the EU electorate voted in the recent election because they are disillusioned with the EU political process.  That seems to me to be a rather rash judgement.  A better approach would be for the EU to form a committee to study procedures for inviting EU citizens to particpate in studies of why the EU electorate is so apathetic.

Helen at the truly magnificant 27b/6 documents the diligence and perseverance of Strata bureaucracy.  You’ve got to read this for yourself!

That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats. Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.

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