and the answer is …

a) Yes
b) No
c) a and b
d) 42
e) None of the above

Centralized bureaucracies cannot possibly manage anything efficiently.*
This is a fundamental law of nature.
(part umpteumpth in the series on bureaucracy)

~ vid ~
I’ll skip the long list of reasons *why and point out only a handful:
• Bureaucracies are based on the assumption that they will be run by elite, enlightened, skilled managers; but all bureaucracies are run by people skilled primarily in being promoted or appointed. The “enlightened despot” idea is merely another Eurofantasy fetish.
• Bureaucracies are created to address weaknesses in human competence, but all bureaucracies are run by these same incompetent humans.
• No bureaucratic analysis or policy development can be objective, since they all respond to guidance issued by a boss with an agenda.
• Bureaucracies do not incorporate automatic self-correcting mechanisms. There is no penalty for failure, and the normal response to failure is to fail faster, harder, and more expensively while punishing the innocent/victims.
• Bureaucracies have limited resources, so they must employ procrustean methods.
• Bureaucrats believe that they can influence nature to achieve a more-ideal reality.
• Bureaucracies cannot help or facilitate either economic activity, responsiveness to needs, or creativity, since they are by nature, process-driven filters, gates, nodes, delays, and cost-generators which are slow to change, spring-loaded to “no,” and do not profit from success.
[insert more here] and finally,
• Nature abhors a vacuous concept where collective non-responsibility and buck-passing substitute for individual responsibility.


  1. PatrickP
    Posted April 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm |

    I happen to think all the swag drapes, dark wood and lush carpet in these hearings rooms are outdated and part of the smoke and mirrors of our rotten to the core government. I think we should move the capitol.

    I work with people like the EPA guy. It’s on a smaller level of course, but these are the sort of hack bureaucrats who are making decisions at every level of government. Seriously, watch your local city council meeting and you’ll see.

  2. dick not quite dead white guy
    Posted April 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm |

    and do not profit from success.
    Exactly. The EPA or any other agency created to attack a problem will begin with a budget and staff. Even if the problem as originally defined is overcome after some years, the agency is a living organism with a survival instinct, so every year the budget and staff will increase with new problems self identified, or it will chase increasingly small increments of ‘success’ in the original mission with more and more resources, but it will never die, nor will it ever say ‘Our job finished. Close the doors’.
    The federal cancer will not die as long as it is fed money. The only way to kill it is to cut off the money.
    If you kill an agency by fiat, all the employees move by osmosis to other agencies to flesh out their increasing budgets. We must cut the total Fed budget drastically.

  3. logdogsmith
    Posted April 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm |

    A wise Gunner once advised me that “one oh shit eliminates a hundred attaboys”.

    And that is the way it is in a gubnment system. Or a union.

  4. Merovign
    Posted April 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm |

    logdogsmith – the problem is the system has evolved to hide ohshits and promulgate attaboys, as opposed to accomplishing anything.

    The bureaucracy is the one place where one ohshit does NOT eliminate a hundred attaboys, the cleanup instead PRODUCES attaboys!

  5. tctsunami
    Posted April 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    Too bad he just couldn’t give an honest answer. We didn’t check the jobs because we really don’t care about working people. It’s all about the agenda. If the EPA had their way every industry would be shut down.
    Of course that would mean no fuel, energy of any kind or food.
    This administration isn’t just trying to make us a third world, more like the stone age.

  6. Billy Ray in Cowtown
    Posted April 17, 2011 at 7:46 pm |

    What freaking planet is that EPA twinkie from, please?

  7. mary
    Posted April 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm |

    Mr. Gardner from Colorado showed great restraint. You couldn’t pry a straight answer out of the epa guy with a crowbar.

  8. Posted April 18, 2011 at 7:18 am |

    I’ve been on the alert lately for the word “clearly”. It seems to be a cover-up word used to hide things. It is used to imply that you’re stupid for asking a question that they don’t want to answer. This guy uses it about a half-dozen times while slinking around like the little worm that he is.

    Listen to Obama (if you can stand it). He uses it all the time. “Empower” is another fave. Both can be automatically translated to “BULLSHIT”.

  9. AZHolmes
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 11:34 am |

    Maybe it’s just me, but this was a pig fight. I couldn’t watch more than half of it. This Mr. Gardner is a doosh. Yes, the “good guy” in this conversation is a doosh. He was clearly asking a LOADED question, and is either too stupid to understand the answer or (more likely) is just wasting everyone’s time and resources to get a sound byte out of an EPA analyst. 100% DOOSH. Which is why BOTH parties are running this country over a cliff. I can’t stand it.

    Economic analysis = economic analysis. Jobs analysis = jobs analysis.

    A = A.

  10. Posted April 18, 2011 at 11:55 am |


    I, too, wondered whether or not this inquiry would be profitable. Unlike you, I endured to the end. You should have, too.

    Economic Analysis minus impact on jobs equals crappy analysis.

  11. AZHolmes
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm |


    I tried. I just couldn’t. It’s a true pig fight. Or bureaucrat fight. Same thing.

    Economic Impact (EI) in dollars divided by average salary (Sal) in dollars = Jobs (#).

    There – Jobs analysis done.

    The fact that both questioner and answerer were too stupid to see this makes it a pig fight.

  12. DougM
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm |

    Gotta disagree with writing this off.
    Sometimes it’s instructive to hear how much BS and obfuscation are involved in rationalizing policy.

    I’ll never be able to hear the term “direct analysis” again without laughin’.

    NB: “analyses” like these cannot predict the future with confidence. The value of analysis is in understanding the differences between alternative outcomes, not in the value any specific outcome, itself. A wise manager uses analyses to compare alternative courses of action or to gain insight into the impact of some change; maybe only the direction of the impact of that change. Analyses help you understand the effect of various assumptions or unknowns or errors of understanding. They may sometimes give you an idea of the comparative likelihood of a range of outcomes. When it comes to the actual value of an outcome, you’re lucky to be able to rely on the order of magnitude of the answer.
    Okay, that’s for engineering*. For economics, I doubt if analyses are even that useful.

    *Not talking about simulations and modeling using numerical methods, because those tools are highly massaged to accommodate reality (experience, measurement, scaling, etc.) where the physics are well understood, and the physics don’t change. AGW and economics models ain’t like that by a long shot.

  13. dick
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm |

    along those lines, I recall an engineering econ instructor showing us how Carl Sagan came up with a ~66% probability there was life on Mars or some planet, I forget which.
    The key was one seemingly small assumption, along the lines of the infamous “Now we all know that….” (I hate that bullshit phrase) loaded into the front of the analysis, that made it almost inescapable that Sagan would get his talking point regardless of the other susequent items in the chain of probabilities. It was very, very sneaky, almost undetectable unless you used statistics and designed experiments on a regular basis.

  14. AZHolmes
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm |

    This looked, to me, more like “You Bet Your Life” than any type of reasonable line of inquiry. One guy trying to get the other guy to say “The Magic Woid”. Then he can scream “Ha, Gotcha”. Not worth a peso in my book.

    But, it does help to explain how our current situation got so screwed up.

    Sorry about my mood, I’m sure all my grumpiness is just left over from my road trip this weekend (Phoenix – Vegas – Victorville – Phoenix). I had a recurring thought all weekend long – “I gotta find me a new planet…”