Big Brother Bureaucrats by Peter Weygang

Published November 1, 2018

People have been ruled by governments that range from dictatorships to politocracies.  The most dangerous of all are bureaucracies, the mortal enemy of the people, and of true democracies.

Military forces are organized as a chain-of-command pyramid.  The shouts of “yes sir!”, resound upwards from the lowest ranks to the supreme chief.

The industrial revolution created a new structure in society. One in which people became a simple minded, faceless cogs, in a great machine.

About 150 years ago, these two ideologies were fused together to form the bureaucratic governance model.  It is found right here in the City of Kawartha Lakes, and in most municipalities. 

In Charles Perrow’s analysis (see Meltdown by Clearfield, and Tilcsik), it is a very complex, tightly coupled, organization. One badly conceived project impacts the whole system. Cost overruns, and time delays, trickle down through the system. Money is moved around, taken from other accounts, obtained by selling our property, and so on. Large debts mortgage our future, to pay for these errors. Projects are rescheduled way into the future.  More senior staff are hired to solve the problems, new departments are created, and so the bureaucracy grows. As do our taxes, and long-term debt.

Needless to say, this model is not used by progressive leaders in the private sector. These leaders value the flexibility, ability, and the common sense of their employees.  They also understand the implications of Price’s law.  Successful businesses are a matrix of small, sharply focused groups, who take pride in directly, and independently, resolving problems, in order to best serve their clients.  

In these systems the manager has a different function. It is to serve these front-line groups, so that they can get on with the job. In some cases, the managers are paid less than the group members. And that is how it should be. 

In my field, education, only the classroom teachers have an impact on the system’s clients; the students. A managerial layer of directors, and superintendents, was created by amalgamation in the late 1990’s.  Those layers could disappear into outer space without loss to the purpose of teaching.  An academic review states that “school boards have become wasteful hierarchies whose role in promoting student learning is negligible.  However, those managerial layers are hugely expensive.  Their salaries should be re-directed to classroom assistants, learning materials, and in supporting the excellent projects that are now funded by parents. 

Centralization is essential in a bureaucracy. It is the vehicle for absolute control.  It is also the worst possible format for delivering efficient, and effective, services to people.   We should learn from Tim Hortons, where a ‘service unit’ is located near every population center.  This is the second-tier concept that existed prior to amalgamation, and one that we desperately need to re-instate.  Lumping all Tim Hortons into one big building in Lindsay would be a disaster, both financially, and in providing service to the public. 

The most sinister threat of bureaucracies is that they are hard to kill.  ‘Off with his head’ simply does not work, although it can deal with all other forms of bad governance. Government bureaucracies are self-serving, multi-headed hydra.  They spin a sticky web of rules, regulations, and irritating bylaws, that are designed to give them a prosperous, and undeserved, long life. 

The debts of most nations have reached irredeemable values. This started about 150 years ago, with the advent of government bureaucracies.  In 1870 our national debt was $321 Thousand.  Now it is $661 Billion. It increases at $2 million per hour! Ontario debt is $349 Billion.  Each Ontarian now owes a total of about $40,000 in debt, which they never approved.  Referendums would stop this fiscal nightmare. 

Direct democracy is the only form of government that can emasculate bureaucracies.  When all decisions are made by the people, then bureaucrats are redundant. They can then be put back in their cages as office workers, which is their true classification.  

I ran for mayor in the City of Kawartha Lakes.  My platform was direct democracy, where the people have the power to decide their own future, and what steps to take on that path. It is now clear that the people have been so well conditioned to accept political leaders as the natural, and only, way to govern, that they simply did not understand my message. They are so close to accepting a society that apes Brave New World, a world governed by a remorseless undercover bureaucracy, that there is no hope. We will, from now on, most likely have just one democratic right, and that is to elect our own executioner.

Additional Reading, and viewing:

Bureaucracy Must Die https://hbr.org/2014/11/bureaucracy-must-die  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYxvp3jdn2o

Meltdown by Clearfield, and Tilcsik

Freedom, Inc by Carney, and Getz

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