Monday, February 25, 2008

Bureaucrats Get a Bad Rap

I recently received a phone call from a long-time friend who happens to be a Libertarian. I remember some of his long tirades about the evils of government and particularly how bad bureaucrats are. Well, Norbert just qualified for Social Security. With only a modicum of chagrin, he decided that he would indeed take the benefits. It seems that Norbert had fallen upon some hard times and his business endeavors didn’t work out and the Social Security check was a godsend.

But this isn’t the only change in Norbert. It seems that he now thinks that bureaucrats can be quite fine people. He said that the people at the Social Security office were extremely nice, helpful, and efficient. They helped him track down missing documents, helped him fill out the forms, and were very supportive.

Why is it that there are so many people like Norbert who like to bash bureaucrats? Many seem to believe if we could only get rid of the “bureaucrats” life would be better. They also ask “Why do we need bureaucratic regulation?” I can think of a few reasons such as the savings and loan debacle, poison pet food from China, lead paint on children’s toys, tainted meat, and the recent mortgage meltdown. What do you think? Maybe we should keep some of the firefighters and police who protect our streets and the foresters who fight the forest fires.

I agree with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison when they wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” I wonder if I could design a politician’s version of the Workplace Attitudes Test.

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