COB-84: Shi Miao exemplified bureaucratic virtue

Shi Miao, illustrious bureaucrat

Bureaucrats should study their illustrious ancestors for guidance in virtue and proper procedure.  Shi Miao is one such worthy figure.  He served as a bureaucrat in the Shouchun prefecture in China during the Han Dynasty (206 BGC to 220 GC).  Having lived in impoverished circumstances, he came to his bureaucratic seat wearing an old robe and driving a rickety cart that a female ox pulled.  That ox birthed a calf about a year after Shi Miao arrived in Shouchun.  When Shi Miao finished his term of office, he gave the ox calf to the people of Shouchun.  He explained:

When I came here I did not have this calf.  It was born here south of the River Huai, and it has grown big eating the grass and drinking the water of Shouchun, none of which had anything to do with me.

Note that Shi Miao did not gave the calf to the people of Shouchun because of his generosity or concern for their welfare.  He gave them the calf as a result of accurate accounting of grass and water used.  Virtuous bureaucrats keep detailed accounts and make decisions based on historical records.

In other bureaucratic issues, bureaucratic morale in the U.S. Navy continues to sink as highly successful operational procedures are abandoned based on flighty or earthy reasoning.  U.S. Navy commands have been sent in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS SINCE THE 1850S, OR SO THE STORY IMPLAUSIBLY GOES (typewriters weren’t commercially successful until the 1870s).  SENDING MESSAGES IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS HAS ACCOMPANIED THE U.S. NAVY’S RISE TO A SUPERPOWER ON THE SEA.  IGNORING THAT SUCCESS, THE NAVY HAS RECENTLY ORDERED MESSAGES TO BE MIXED UP WITH UPPER AND LOWER CASES.  JIM HUNT REPORTED THE ORDER:

UNODIR REF A MOD REF B. READD REF A FORAC ALCON. CEASE ALCAP IMMED. ACK MSG OP.

CALL IN THE AIR FORCE AND THE ARMY.  THE NAVY HAS LOST BUREAUCRATIC BALLAST AND IS SINKING.

Unfortunately, the problems at sea are being reduplicated again and again.  Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, has erected “6 tips to screw business meetings as usual.”  Virgin Group should not be in the business of screwing, even if it usually has been.  For Virgin Group to move forward to the next stage of development, it needs to embrace meetings.  Meetings bring people together and perpetuate the existence of organizations.

Goldman Sach’s recent investment in gaming shows that gaming is an important growth area for bureaucracy.  Goldman funded a high-tech, bureaucratically intensive scavenger hunt called Midnight Madness.  Game control, which is another name for bureaucracy, played a key role in the enterprise:

A lot of player behavior is driven by mistrust of the 34 people running the game, who are collectively known as Game Control. The parsimony with which Game Control dispenses information had historically been merciless, and the latest Midnight Madness was similar. … Most players’ default assumption was that Game Control was trying to double-cross them.

Game control makes the game, and bureaucracy makes the business.

That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats.  Enjoy previous bureaucratic carnivals here.  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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[image] “Leaving the Calf Behind,” China, Ming Dynasty, handscroll, ink on paper, Freer Gallery, F1916.405.  The relevant quotation above is from the image label for the scroll in the Freer Gallery.

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