In my previous post “Why a Revolution?”, I mentioned several categories of systems and institutions that I classed as irredeemable. This is a subject worthy of further development. Irredeemable, how, why and who, I named my big three, but it is much bigger than that, and then there is the question of a specific remedy. I might as well start with defining with Irredeemable, what makes it that and is there a quickfire method to identifying it and targeting it for attention.
Often a necessary factor is bureaucracy. That is as good a starting point as any, because while there are several unrelated areas that deserve attention, in general our social problems are self inflicted ills, from our own government – our system of government and the mechanisms of government. Especially the bureaucracy of government.
I am debating how deeply I should delve into the nature of bureaucratic systems. In a way I probably only need to refer to Parkinson’s law and the Peter Principle to explain anything that needs explaining. Albeit most people wont ever have read about these, couldn’t be bothered looking them up, and would prefer a nice succinct summary. Well that’s human nature, and incidentally part of the problem with bureaucracies too by the way. They tend to amplify and entrench certain human tendencies, attitudes and weaknesses. And not the good ones either.
Path of least resistance, passing the buck, covering your ass, empire building, entitlement, inward looking, management overkill, micromanagement, systems and processes, seniority, long service, hierarchical, old boys networks, hive mind, political interference, budget cycle obsession, patch protection…
Interestingly enough, another one is also probably, the tendency towards over feminisation, ie women being grossly over represented in the headcount of bureaucratic institutions. Albeit, there are benefits as well as hazards in that. Generalising of course, but women are typically a conservative force socially. Which can be a good and/or a bad thing, depending on the circumstances, in any event it can be a mechanism for generating a consensus mindset. Which can reinforce what is the natural tendency of a bureaucracy anyway.
Leave all that alone long enough to fester and ferment and supply it with a generous and constant flow of dollars and what you end up with is a monster. It develops mass and momentum, self interst and protective instincts, an insatiable appetite, an instinct for perpetual growth and a compulsion for control. Ultimately the greatest problem is that the original objectives for establishing a system or institution become lost in the process. Those objectives are lost or neglected and self serving bureaucratic imperatives become the objective instead. “1984” and “The Gulag Archipelago” were written about this sort of thing. They are famous, or infamous, cautionary tales and if you still don’t know what I am talking about then go and read those books.
More to the point, if you think that we aren’t already a dangerously long way along the path to those scenarios, then you need to seriously pop your head up from whatever it is that you are focused on at the moment and take a good look around. I am not going to delve too deeply into the whys and wherefores of it all, except to paraphrase a fairly famous saying – “some truths I hold to be self evident”. Coming as it does from the people that it did and the document it is a part of, I wonder what those people would make of the current state of the country they founded.
Rather closer to home, about a year ago it was stated that the health care system of our country had just surpassed 10,000 managers. In a country of our size, apparently we need to have 10K (and growing) management positions in order to make the system work. HELLO….. HELLO…. Is there anyone out there…..?????
Somehow that announcement just seemed to slip by without any comment at all really. “Oohh well… what can you do….”
What you could do is storm Parliament with pitchforks and torches, guillotine a large number of people and pay a bit of intelligent attention to what is going on. Maybe…? Well apparently not yet, people aren’t of a state of mind to go to that sort of trouble – yet. But perhaps part of the solution is shedding a bit more light on the issues and identifying the problem.
You know, “know thine enemy”.
In this case our enemy is the Irredeemable. Those things that CAN NOT BE REDEEMED. That is your enemy. And to paraphrase again, “you may not know that its your enemy, but it definitely knows who you are” and sooner or later, one of you is going to be destroyed. It behooves you to look up, look around and see what’s going on around you. Stop watching TV, it is an irredeemable thing in and of itself anyway, and is a tool of the status quo as well. (go to Amazon.com and look up “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television”, by Jerry Mander – read the comments and reviews) And trust me, the status quo is NOT your friend.
But back to our narrative, and having a bit more of a look at my big three; Political, Legal, Economic. Without explicitly examining each of these individually here, I will do that in later posts, lets look at these in the system as a whole. By that I mean, what does the political economy actually DO!
Well what it does is that it sets the rules and agenda within which everything works. Typically with the stated objective of providing a social Good. But Does it, and Can it? Consider this, of every dollar that is paid to the government in tax, how much value is returned to the community and how much just evaporates as waste? Of all the working people in an economy, how many are employed by the government? Is the size of government getting smaller, bigger or static? I don’t really need to answer those, we all actually know the answers already. Government waste is legendary. In general governments don’t produce anything, what they actually do is redistribute instead, and treasure evaporates every step of the way. Inherently in a democratic system, the electorate votes itself largess from the public purse, and politicians survival imperatives are to pander to that. Even prior to recent economic events, budgets, regulation and bureaucracy were subject to creeping incrementalism. There is no practical ceiling to that, and in an emergency the first and immediate step is to appropriate more power and more money to subsidize, support and dissemble on any problems or issues.
Guess what is happening right now with the current financial and economic crisis? Billions are being shoveled into financial black holes to “save” the unsaveable. Budget deficits are climbing exponentially and more and more of the economy is coming under government oversight, regulation, control or outright ownership. For our own good of course, more laws to FIX the problems and more taxes to pay for it all.
Forgetting for the moment that government systems set the rules and agenda for our current situation and that ALL the current ills were already covered by a multitude of laws and regulations, that for some strange reason we somehow managed to specifically NOT apply in an appropriate and timely manner anyway. Somehow thing just seem to have – got away on us.
If approximately 50% of the economy was the government to start with, and 50% of your income flows out as taxes of one sort or another already, Then where does even bigger government and higher taxes end up taking us? At what point does Big, Bigger, Biggest government become effectively complete control. The communists tried that didn’t they… and what a success that turned out to be! Does 35, 25, 15% of the economy in private hands mean we are not REALLY slaves to the system?
What would you bet that the small percentage that is left FREE is actually controlled by a small bunch of cronies who are cuddled up to the government anyway?
And here is the salient point…!!!
IS IT ACTUALLY POSSIBLE – IS THERE ANY PRACTICAL METHOD OR MECHANISM – BY WHICH THE CURRENT SYSTEM CAN OF ITS OWN VOLITION REVERSE OR CHANGE ITS PRESENT DIRECTION AND DESTINY???
Of course not. We already know where this is all heading. All we can do is sit and watch it happen like a slow motion train wreck.
The system itself is Irredeemable, and the bigger it gets the worse it gets.
How big and how bad does it have to get before we have to break it to stop it?