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Posts Tagged ‘Bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy vs. Robber Barrons

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“When propaganda is the goal, accuracy is the victim.”

I recently came across two articles from past years that I’ve had bookmarked and which I’ve enjoyed reading again over this summer.

First up is some humour that author J K Rowling may be treating more seriously in her ongoing fight with the Trans community, especially after getting her name removed from the Harry Potter movie franchise by Warner Brothers as they launch a 20th anniversary celebration of the first HP movie.

The humour comes from an essay written in 2006 for the Michigan Law Review, which analyses what Rowling is effectively saying in her HP books about bureaucracy, government and the media, Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy:

The critique is even more devastating because the governmental actors and actions in the book look and feel so authentic and familiar. Cornelius Fudge, the original Minister of Magic, perfectly fits our notion of a bumbling politician just trying to hang onto his job. Delores Umbridge is the classic small-minded bureaucrat who only cares about rules, discipline, and her own power… The Ministry itself is made up of various sub-ministries with goofy names (e.g., The Goblin Liaison Office or the Ludicrous Patents Office) enforcing silly sounding regulations (e.g., The Decree for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans or The Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery).

Rowling even eliminates the free press as a check on government power. The wizarding newspaper, The Daily Prophet, is depicted as a puppet to the whims of Ministry of Magic.

Sounds appropriate for our times. I don’t know how many of you have read the series, likely to your kids or even grandkids, or perhaps a guilty pleasure for yourself, but you may recognise some of this from the abstract.

I did not have to re-read the books to see all this, as it had jumped out at me when I read them originally, even if it went over the heads of my kids. I was hardly the only parent who speculated on what Rowling’s experience with government and bureaucrats had been in real life as she wrote her novels in poverty. Having said that it seems that Gen Z kids themselves continue to re-read the books now as they age into their twenties and thirties, where they likely also draw similar parallels:

it seems likely that we will see a continuing uptick in distrust of government and libertarianism as the Harry Potter generation reaches adulthood.

One can only hope. Which brings me to the next article, about a world almost completely at odds with the first, the Gilded Age of America, otherwise known as the time of The Robber Barrons.

More accurately The Myth of the ‘Robber Barons’. It turns out that it was created less at the time (despite cartoons such as the one above) than in the 1930’s, just when it was needed by the US Left, as described by historian Burton W. Folsom in his book about the subject.

It will surprise nobody to find that Far Lefters were behind it and that they were very ignorant about economics – and many other things. The main culprit was one Matthew Josephson, who quite literally wrote the best-selling book, The Robber Barons, after being inspired by Charles Beard, America’s foremost progressive historian, first at varsity and then years later during the Great Depression:

Josephson, the son of a Jewish banker, grew up in New York and graduated from Columbia University, where he was inspired in the classroom by Charles Beard, America’s foremost progressive historian—and a man sympathetic to socialism…“Oh! those respectable ones,” Beard said of America’s capitalists, “oh! their temples of respectability—how I detest them, how I would love to pull them all down!” Happily for Beard, Josephson was handy to do the job for him. Josephson dedicated The Robber Barons to Beard, the historian most responsible for the book’s contents.

Writing in the inspiring times of 1932 Josephson reached back fifty years in time to explain it all, but the following comments provide a clear idea of the quality of “analysis” he brought to the subject:

In a written interview for Pravda, the Soviet newspaper, Josephson said he enjoyed watching “the breakdown of our cult of business success and optimism.” He added, “The freedom of the U.S.S.R. from our cycles of insanity is the strongest argument in the world for the reconstruction of our society in a new form that is as highly centralized as Russia’s. . . .”

One is tempted to snigger but today we live with Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Occasional-Cortex, who believe the same shite about socialism and its Siamese Twin, giant centralised government.

He did little research and mainly used secondary sources that supported his Marxist viewpoint. As he had written in the New Republic, “Far from shunning propaganda, we must use it more nobly, more skillfully than our predecessors, and speak through it in the local language and slogans.” Thus he wrote The Robber Barons with dramatic stories, anecdotes, and innuendos that demeaned corporate America and made the case for massive government intervention.

Ah yes. As with today’s “journalists” the Narrative is everything and is best supported by dramatic stories. As Folsom points out in the article, that means there are lots of mistakes: “On page 14 alone, Josephson makes at least a dozen errors in his account of Vanderbilt and the steamships.” As Folsom says, “When propaganda is the goal, accuracy is the victim.”

But the main error – actually showing up on that page – is that Josephson never differentiated between market entrepreneurs like Vanderbilt, Hill, and Rockefeller and political entrepreneurs (i.e. government subsidy harvesters) like Collins, Villard, and Gould, even as he was honest enough to praise aspects of the former and lash the latter:

He quotes “one authority” on the railroads as saying, “The Federal government seems . . . to have assumed the major portion of the risk and the Associates seem to have derived the profits”—but Josephson never pursues the implication of that passage.

While the book hit the best-seller lists for six months Josephson was running around Russia praising bloody Stalin and his system. He missed the gulags, the farm collectivisations and all their horrors, especially in the Ukraine, and saw only the factories and other “glamorous” things:

He attended official dinners and even talked with select Russian writers and artists. He was ecstatic. The Soviet Union, Josephson said, “seemed like the hope of the world—the only large nation run by men of reason.” … Josephson also never realized that the Soviet factories he saw were often directly copied from Western capitalist factories—and were funded by Stalin’s confiscatory taxation. Instead, Josephson thought he had stumbled into a workers’ paradise, the logical result of central planning and superior leaders.

This book would go on to be more than just a best-seller: it had huge influence in the worlds of high schools, academia and journalism for decades:

Historian Thomas Brewer, who in 1970 edited The Robber Barons: Saints or Sinners? observed that the majority of writers “still adhere to the ‘robber baron’ interpretation.” Historian David Shi agrees: “For well over a generation, The Robber Barons remained the standard work in its field.” For many textbook writers, it still is. In the main study guide for the Advanced Placement U.S. history exam for 2015, the writers say:

America [1877-1900] looked to have entered a period of prosperity with a handful of families having amassed unprecedented wealth, but the affluence of the few was built on the poverty of many.

2015 FFS? It’s a wonder that Silicon Valley exists at all with this sort of high school education, though perhaps it wasn’t as bad when the likes of Zuckerburg, Gates, Bezos and Steve Jobs were passing through it, and of course Musk was educated in South Africa.

Folsom explains that this success, despite all the sloppy errors in the book, comes down to two reasons.

First, it was tailor-made for the Progressives of the 1930’s eager to blame the new generation of robber barons for the Great Depression. I always laugh at those Lefties who claim that Righties pined for President Herbert Hoover: it’s even in the opening song for All In The Family because of course it is. See how this cultural shit works? In fact:

Those harmful federal policies include the Federal Reserve’s untimely raising of interest rates, making it harder to borrow money; President Hoover’s blundering Farm Board; his signing of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, the highest in U.S. history; and his disastrous Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which dispensed massive corporate bailouts to political entrepreneurs. Finally, Hoover muzzled investment by repealing the Mellon tax cuts and promoting a huge tax hike.

Including income tax rates that went up to 70%, which FDR criticised, but which he cunningly kept after getting elected. Oh yeah, we Righties love that Herbert Hoover. Actually the admiration is for “Silent Cal” Coolidge, his predecessor, who could have run for office again in 1928 and would have handled all of the above very differently (of Hoover he said, “That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad.”)

The second reason is that a bunch of Marxist historians who influenced a lot of the post-WWII historical profession, loved the book and made sure it was embedded in the curriculums of their students, starting with Richard Hofstadter:

“My fundamental reason for joining [the Communist Party],” Hofstadter said, “is that I don’t like capitalism and want to get rid of it.”

He still desired that after quitting the Party. He’s also the guy who wrote the nasty little polemic about the US Right-Wing, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Great guys communists, whatever profession they are they’re still communists, with all the toxic nastiness and fanaticism involved.

Folsum’s book, The Myth of The Robber Barrons
Also, The Forgotten Man

Written by Tom Hunter

January 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

There shall be minor changes

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Upon the accession to government of the next National-led coalition in 2023 or 2026.

Such will be the case across-the-board as National grapples with failing health and education systems, as well as other government organs, by tweaking the systems and putting more capable people in charge.

But that won’t change the medium-long term trajectory of those institutions, and the following graph shows the entire strategy of National in a nutshell.

I’ve shamelessly stolen this from the Taxpayers Union via Kiwiblog, where DPF is using it to make a quite justified attack on the standard practice of Labour governments that more government means more societal good and more government translates into more bureaucrats.

But unlike DPF here’s the thing that sticks out to me. Yes, the Key government managed to plateau this ludicrous growth in the number of bureaucrats, increasing the number by a mere 2000 over nine years compared to an increase of 14,000 under the Clark governments.

But they did not shrink it, let alone shrink it back to that of the year 2000, and thus it lay ready to be exploded again by the next Labour government, as it has been.

Even from a population perspective it’s not good. In 2000 we had 28,000 ‘crats for a population of about 3.8 million, one ‘crat for every 136 subjects. In 2020 the ratio is one ‘crat for every 83 subjects of the government.

So this basically means that National could drop the numbers back to about 36,000. I can imagine the screams and the pain, and that blue section of the graph indicates that it won’t happen.

Instead I can guarantee you that this process will be repeated when a National-led government comes to power in 2023 or 2026; a plateau for a few years followed by another explosion in the number of bureaucrats with a Labour-led government circa 2032 or 2035.

As with almost everything, Labour leads and National follows.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 29, 2021 at 4:38 pm

The politicisation of bureaucracy

The following story is from the USA and concerns a government agency very much in the news over the last couple of years – the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) – but you have to wonder to what degree the same thing is happening now in New Zealand.

The story actually arises as a bit of a sidebar from a Fox News interview of one Dr. Marty Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The purpose of the interview was to discuss the development of an anti-Covid-19 oral pill:

Merck & Co’s stock price rose sharply on Friday after the drug company announced positive clinical trial results from its experimental anti-viral Covid-19 pill. Data showed the pill halved the chances of dying or being hospitalized for at-risk populations—a breakthrough advancement in the fight against the global pandemic. 

It would be quite a fantastic scientific advance. Makary said that it is the…

“…most profound scientific achievement since the vaccines. A fifty percent reduction in the death rate, an oral pill with a simple 5-day course. It’s safe, it works against all variants, it can be used in combination with other therapies. The FDA needs to enact an expanded access protocol to liberate this medication. We’ve got 1.7 million on the shelf, we need to give it to people sick with Covid today under this protocol while they consider if for an emergency use authorization.”

You want any medicine to be thoroughly tested of course, but the FDA’s procedures have increasingly come under attack by taking excessive precautions and there has been a slow but steady decline in drug development in the last thirty years. Until Covid-19 of course, which saw quite a bit of “emergency use authorisation”.

But this was the part of the interview that got attention:

Kilmeade: “[Why is Merk not going] to bat for their own drug.”

Makary: “Well, they’ve got to be very careful with the FDA. If you do something out of line with what they want you could offend them and the FDA is vindictive and they will hold up authorizations and approvals.”

Kilmeade: “Are you kidding? The FDA is vindictive?”

Makary: “First of all this is the most political FDA in U.S. history. Second of all, the FDA has a long history of pulling products from companies that are unrelated to mistakes in other medication and device applications so companies have to be very careful, and that’s why you generally don’t see pharma complaining about the bureaucracy and red tape at the FDA …”

Kilmeade: “… They’re afraid,”

Makary: “Yeah, they’re afraid of the backlash”

In some ways it’s not surprising to hear this. All bureaucrats gain a giddy sense of power over time and I reckon we’ve all seen things like this in our lives. Certainly it’s understood that if you piss off a bureaucrat they can find myriad ways to lead you into all sorts of problems. It may be the reason behind the problems here that medical testing company Rako has encountered with the MOH over saliva testing.

It also reminds me of this comment way back in 2017 by Senator Chuck Schumer, responding to Trump’s criticisms of the US intelligence agencies:

The new leader of Democrats in the Senate says Donald Trump is being “really dumb” for picking a fight with intelligence officials, suggesting they have ways to strike back, after the president-elect speculated Tuesday that his “so-called” briefing about Russian cyberattacks had been delayed in order to build a case.

“Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,”

In the next four years they did, all the way from “leaks” about Russian paying the Taliban to kill US soldiers (a claim made as Trump mulled withdrawing from Afghanistan), to the now infamous Hunter Biden emails being dismissed by a group of recently retired intelligence officers as products of “Russian disinformation”.

Between them and the news above about the FDA, it really does make you wonder who is running our nations?

Written by Tom Hunter

November 16, 2021 at 7:50 am

Good news from a simple solution

In the last few weeks I’ve written a couple of posts on the supply chain problems cropping up around the world, in particular across the Pacific and especially between the USA and China:

The Shipping News

World’s Worst Job

Since then the problem has actually got worse, with even more ships parked outside the Port of Los Angeles. In reading one of my foreign sources I came across a link to the Twitter account of a guy called Ryan Petersen who had rented a boat to go and look at the port to see what was happening.

But that was as far as I read and it merely confirmed other news about the situation. As it happens I should have read further, because he discovered something amazing that is almost beyond belief.

As this commentator summarises while listing out the entire Twitter thread:

  1. There was a rule in the Port saying you could only stack shipping containers two containers high.
  2. This is despite the whole point of shipping containers being to stack them on top of each other so you can have a container ship.
  3. This rule was created, and I am not making this up, because it was decided that higher stacks were not sufficiently aesthetically pleasing.
  4. If you violated this rule, you lost your right to operate at the port.
  5. In normal times, this was annoying but not a huge deal.

The last point on that list is this:

None of those people managed to do anything about the rule, or even get word out about the rule. No reporters wrote up news reports. No one was calling for a fix. The supply chain problems kept getting worse and mostly everyone agreed not to talk about it much and hope it would go away.

It’s incredible that this one stupid bureaucratic rule could be so obviously part of a massive and growing problem and not have anything done about it.

As it happens the Twitter guy did do something about. Having spotted the problem he suggested the obvious solution of suspending the rule so that containers could be stacked more than two high.

So far, so what you may say. Well this is where the power of connecting people on Social Media, in this case Twitter, was made obvious and for once in a good way. That initial tweet got 16k retweets and 33k likes, and even the others got thousands of likes as well, so this successfully got many people’s attention – including the people who make decisions, like the Mayor of Long Beach where the port is located:

That decision was made just eight hours after Petersen’s Tweet thread was posted.

EIGHT HOURS!

You can read the following blog post – An Unexpected Victory – for a (lengthy) analysis of this incident as an example of problem solving – and a glimmer of hope for solving other problems:

If you’re not terrified that the United States is a dead player, you haven’t been paying attention – the whole reason this is a miracle, and that it shocked so many people, is that we didn’t think the system was capable of noticing a stupid, massively destructive rule with no non-trivial benefits and no defenders and scrapping it, certainly not within a day. If your model did expect it, I’m very curious to know how that is possible, and how you explain the years 2020 and 2021.

Sadly there are multiple problems involved in the supply chain crisis, of which this was just one.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 9, 2021 at 10:08 am

So the puppies will take down Fauci?

It’s a mark of the world we live in. You can actually get people to care more for the lives of cats and dogs than the lives of humans.

Don’t believe me? Well look what’s suddenly turned up about “Dr” Fauci.

No, not the news that none other than his employer, the NIH (of which Fauci’s NIAID is part), has finally owned up to something that outside researchers had known for months:

The National Institutes of Health has stunningly admitted to funding gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at China’s Wuhan lab — despite Dr. Anthony Fauci repeatedly insisting to Congress that no such thing happened.

In a letter to Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) on Wednesday, a top NIH official blamed EcoHealth Alliance — the New York City-based nonprofit that has funneled US funds to the Wuhan lab — for not being transparent about the work it was doing.

Ron Paul’s complaint that Fauci lied to him and Congress about this months ago, is looking stronger all the time. Having said that Fauci didn’t survive in the Federal bureaucracy this long by being a political naif.

Aside from the problems this causes for Fauci and his mates, there’s also the question of how it creates more damage for the MSM, since they took Fauci’s side during those clashes with Rand Paul, framing the story as how the “expert” Dr Fauci had really taken down that idiot GOP Senator, Rand Paul MD, something that the analysis at this link has a lot of fun with:

There’s plenty more like that at the link. This will also not shame a single one of these reporters and MSM sources anymore than did the facts about Hunter Biden or the Russian Collusion hoax. They love having the power to frame stories and they still have millions of credulous idiots who believe them.

But it may well be that Fauci gets taken down not because of any of this, any more than his AIDS fumbles did four decades ago. Not, it may well be puppies that do him in:

Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing calls from a bipartisan group of legislators to respond to allegations that his National Institutes of Health division provided a grant to a lab in Tunisia to torture and kill dozens of beagle puppies for twisted scientific experiments.

In a letter to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and 23 colleagues addressed their “grave concerns about reports of costly, cruel, and unnecessary taxpayer-funded experiments on dogs.”

Oh well, they got Al Capone on tax evasion not murder. It’s as this point that you really should acknowledge the truth that Bob Jones constantly pushes, that laughter really is the best medicine.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 27, 2021 at 6:38 am

More Insanity for your delight

Well you may not be delighted at the first item, especially if you have kids looking for a house in New Zealand.

I’ve removed the name of the real estate company as I see no reason to give them free advertising after they dropped this through our mailbox the other day.

A 71% increase above the CV. Obviously the house and other structures on the site are worth nothing.

This is not a flash area, even by the moderate standards of Glenn Innes in Auckland, yet this is what’s happening even there. They’re also quite open about land banking and development, as if things like the “brightline test” and no longer being able to deduct expenses as a renter just don’t amount to a speed bump.

That’s because these are companies with teams of lawyers and accountants, and there is no limit to how “money” can be shuffled around to avoid the prescriptive revenge of Leftist governments.

Friends of ours, a Russian immigrant family we met twenty years ago when they landed in NZ at the same time we did, lived in this very street until last year and after years of scrimping and penny pinching, did well enough out of this insanity to be able to buy a section not far away and build a new house. Given the racism from their neighbours that they had to put up with for years they were glad to go.

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The second item is something we all try to avoid, getting tangled up in government bureaucracy – and death.

Many years ago I laughed at one of the crazy stories from the book Catch 22. One of the characters, Doc Daneeka, is gaming extra income by getting flight pay via signing up to fly on standard shakedown flights of bombers that have been repaired. A quick flight around the base and it’s all good, but Daneeka doesn’t even want to do that and the pilots let it slide. Then one of these bomber flights – with his name on the roster – crashes into a nearby mountain in full view of the base. “Poor Doc Daneeka” says one man, even as the Doc, standing beside him, is saying, “but I’m right here”. He ends up living in a ripped up tent on the edge of the base, stealing food wherever he can. Even the amoral capitalist genius of Milo Minderbinder and the evil bureaucratic genius of PFC Wintergreen, cannot resurrect him. It gets to the point that people ignore him when he speaks to them. He also just vanishes from the story eventually, his true fate unknown.

Meet the modern French version of the Doc, Jeanne Pouchain, and marvel at real-life insanity.

‘They said I don’t exist. But I am here’ – one woman’s battle to prove she isn’t dead.

The letter informed her that a lawyer in a court case relating to her cleaning business had told the court that she had died, aged 53, in February 2016. Somehow, this unverified claim – there was no official death certificate, how could there be? – was allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged.

The thing that really gets me is that a relatively minor court could let this happen, but somehow higher courts and supposed authorities can’t seem to reverse the process:

Several courts, including the Cour de Cassation, the highest in the French judicial system, have examined the case and conceded there appeared to be “irregularities”, but deemed it was beyond their competence to bring Pouchain back from the dead. So who can? Pouchain’s local MP’s office tells me they have taken up her case. The MP, Valéria Faure-Muntian, told Pouchain she has spoken to the justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, who is a member of the French bar and will keep a close eye on the case.

Aside from frozen bank accounts and not being able to access the French healthcare system, there’s also ordinary things like not having a passport and a driver’s licence, which crimp your lifestyle to say they least, although when I read this bit …

Then [the gendarme] looked on the central database and he said, ‘I wouldn’t drive if I were you, because you don’t exist. You don’t have a licence.’”

Ok. So what happens if they arrest her for that? Or for anything really? How can you charge a dead person with a crime, convict them and send them to jail? Perhaps she should have tried getting the system to fight itself to a resolution.

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The last concerns the hopeless story creation in Hollywood in the last twenty years, with a seemingly endless line of re-boots, sequels and super-hero movies being made – and starting to sag in box-office returns.

Somebody on social media decided to spark some ideas using merely the photos of two actresses.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 11, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Making progress with Progressivism

It’s a bog-standard feature of every Labour government that the state will expand, not just in terms of money spent, but people employed.

So I’m not surprised to see this information from a recent post by Don Brash, Do We Need So Many Bureaucrats?:

  • Land Information New Zealand, 25.5%
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 30.7%
  • Ministry of Education, 32.4% (not teachers)
  • Ministry of Defence, 35.3%
  • Ministry of Primary Industries, 36.7%
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 38.9%
  • Oranga Tamariki, 40.7%
  • Ministry of Transport, 40.8% (not including NZTA)
  • Ministry for the Environment, 41.0%
  • Public Service Commission, 42.6%
  • Ministry for Women, 45.8%
  • Ministry for Maori Development, 69.8%
  • Ministry for Pacific Peoples, 81.1%

As Brash points out, this would not be so bad if there was evidence that the government was getting stuff done with all these extra people. But as is increasingly obvious to anybody who ignores the NZ MSM, it’s not.

A person at the polar opposite end of the political spectrum from Brash, Danyl Mclauchlan, has noticed the same thing:

Which raises an awkward question. If policy is developed by ministerial staff and implemented by DPMC, what do all of Robertson’s ministerial colleagues and their thousands of highly paid advisers do all day? Because the description of the Implementation Unit sounds an awful lot like the current role of a ministerial office.

Given Adern’s lightweight nature, it’s not surprising as to where this idea came from:

The Implementation Unit is a Blairite idea, as the Stuff journalists point out. He called it “the Delivery Unit”, inventing it in his final years in Downing Street to try and overcome what he perceived as the failure of both the civil service and his junior ministers in achieving his policy ambitions. Blair’s critics disagreed, arguing that Blair’s tendency to grandstand in the media by announcing visionary, aspirational goals without figuring out how to deliver them was the deeper problem with his administration.

Helpfully the Stuff article reminds us that Jacinda Ardern once worked for Tony Blair.

Chuckle. Danyl also takes a shot at other Lefties who have been banging the drums for a 21st century Ministry of Works, by quoting a senior government advisor that he knows:

“It’s the same mistake National made with MBIE. Let’s build a new entity to do the economic transformation the rest of the government can’t deliver. And how’d that work out? Imagine you’re a Labour minister and you decide to fund a Ministry of Works to deliver all these projects that NZTA and HUD and Kāinga Ora seem unable to do. You’re going to spend two years and, I dunno, a couple hundred million setting it up. You’re going to end up staffing it with people from NZTA and Kāinga Ora, because who else are you going to get? But once it’s built you’ve just replicated these same dysfunctional organisations. So it’s not going to build anything and your political career will be over.”

You could also add the ACT Party’s dopey idea to establish a Productivity Commission. How’d that work out?

That and the MBIE, plus all this other stuff, really go to the heart of the problem, which is not just the mindless acquisition of new bureaucrats by Labour but the fact that National and ACT refuse to shut down a lot of these useless government departments and worse, create new ones themselves. It’s Public Choice theory on steroids.

Speaking of which, let’s recall this blog’s namesake, as well as one of the key writers who seemed to well understand that theory as he wrote delicious lines like this for a show that seems ageless:

Perhaps it’ll all be okay. As I have said before, having a government that’s useless beats one that’s actually doing stupid shit. I just wish they could do all this nothing for much less money.

Besides, the new National-led coalition government of 2026 will freeze those numbers at that year’s level and hold them there until they lose power 2-3 terms later.

The idea of abolishing a bunch of these ministries, starting with the last three on that list, will be rejected as “too extreme and divisive” – plus Woman, Maori and Pasifika political activists and “journalists” who will never vote National, will tell National that they’d be awful people if they did such things.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 1, 2021 at 12:00 pm

YOU GOTTA LARF

The BBC has reported here that police in Plymouth attending a 999 call-out to a pub were issued a ticket by a parking company … no matter that it happened between 23.55 and 00.29 and no matter that police vehicles on emergency call-outs are exempt from parking charges.  

The charge was eighty five pounds reduced to fifty pounds if paid within 14 days.

When the Devon Police contacted the parking company to contest the charge they were told they would need to go through the formal appeal process if they wanted the charge waived.

The Police response was to tell the parking company that they would happily fill out the required paperwork but would they, in the interim, please not call 999 … cops with a sense of humor … but I’m sure some numpty will take offence.

Written by The Veteran

December 31, 2019 at 1:36 am

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with ,

Accountability and other Laughter

As the MSM slowly dies – because of an increasing lack of trust, shallow, ignorant, ideologically-biased reporting and pathetic attention-getting behaviour – and as Social Media reveals similar problems, I’m hoping that the blogosphere may make a comeback to where it was in the 2000’s.

As such, one of the things I want to do here at NoMinister is to support other blogs by linking to them explicitly and making sure that arguments and opinions I support get wider coverage.

To that end I think it’s well worth your time to read this review of the recent Budget security cockup, written by former Reserve Bank economist, Michael Reddell: On Makhlouf and standards in public office.

Reddell details, from the persepective of a former insider at the Reserve Bank, just what went wrong in general and specifically with Makhlouf himself:

Makhlouf and his senior IT staff (and their bosses) must have known very well by this point what had actually happened  (and if Makhlouf personally did not sufficiently understand the point, that too reflects poorly on him, for not having asked hard enough questions, or ensured he was on totally solid ground). 

Nobody expects a senior person to know minor details, but they are expected to ask enough questions to fully understand what’s going on, especially before opening their mouths in public.

… they attempted to get ahead of the story again.  This was the 5:05am statement. But it wasn’t just another Makhlouf statement, as he managed to get the State Services Commissioner to issue a parallel statement.  One can only wonder how much consultation with ministers (Finance, State Services) or their offices went on through this period –  but it is hard to believe that Peter Hughes would have put out such a statement, getting in the middle of a political controversy, with little or no notice, little or no consultation.

And now the same applies to Peter Hughes. Did he just take Makhlouf’s word for what was an IT technical matter that Hughes surely must have known was not Makhlouf’s area of expertise? I’m reminded of the discussions in the Central Committee, as portrayed in the recent TV series, Chernobyl..

But even then is keen to muddy the waters. Embargoes are irrelevant here –  they only apply to people who accept information under embargo, on terms and conditions set by the person releasing it.  There was no embargo here, simply insecure Treasury systems.  And then there was the final sentence, again playing distraction. 

There is no “longstanding convention around Budget confidentiality”. There are obligations on public servants to keep “Budget secret” information secret, an obligation that applies especially to the Treasury Secretary, responsible for Treasury systems, and there are rules in the Budget lockup. But none of that applies to anyone else.  A journalist who receives a leak about Budget material isn’t breaking the rules or any conventions in breaking the story – in fact, they’d be failing in their job if they chose not to run a newsworthy story.

Reddell captures the heart of the matter:

It was an extraordinary couple of days, and an extraordinary display of poor judgement by one of our most senior public servants. He’d made a series of very bad calls, all his own personal responsibility, and in the full glare of the public spotlight.
….
A decent and honourable person might have taken a day and then announced his resignation. After all, human beings make mistakes, and when they are serious enough, and public enough, sustained enough, and committed by someone very senior (in whom the system reposes considerable trust), bad choices need to have consequences.

And given that Makhlouf was leaving anyway, to head the central bank of Ireland I understand, how badly would it have hurt him to do that?

But no. That’s not how things work.

The State Services Commission has announced an inquiry, but based on history, Reddell accurately sums up where this will go – which is the same place that things like the whole Murray McCully-Saudi sheep affair went:

The State Services Commissioner is fully part of that same self-protecting establishment –  appointed by them, from among them, and now supposedly reporting independently on actions (of another member) that he himself was part of as recently as last Thursday morning.

 The MSM is not the only institution in which trust is being lost.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 6, 2019 at 9:48 pm

BUREAUCRACY IN ACTION

The Ministry of Social Development have just announced the new benefit rates to apply from 1 April 2018 …. you can access the information here.

Included  in the schedule is this little doozy under NZ Superannuation and Veteran’s Pensions …

World War 1 veteran’s lump sum payment on death … $15,040.46.

Just how much effort did it take by some peon(s) to work out this inflation adjusted sum since, to the best of my knowledge, the last NZ veteran of that conflict, Bright Williams, died fifteen years ago … and MSD would have known that.

Bureaucracy is a wonderful thing.
 

Written by The Veteran

March 19, 2018 at 11:49 pm

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with ,