Them danged bureaucrats, and the folks who hate them

Dang them bureaucrats!

I had a good, brief discussion with our friend Lynn Teague the other day on what was — way back then (or at least, earlier this week) — called “Twitter.”

I asked her if she minded my sharing it here, and she didn’t, so here goes…

It started with her reaction to someone who was commenting on a truly off-the-wall proposal by a guy who styles himself as a “U.S. presidential candidate” (God forbid!):

Rather than embed all the back and forth that followed, I’ll just quote it.

I responded, “And anyone who can’t understand that is distressingly deficient… Why on Earth would anyone want someone in a position of responsibility who knows nothing about the job?”

Of course, being me, I went on: “I think these people think of a job as some sort of goody that is handed to people like candy. And they don’t want anyone hogging the goodies. They don’t see it as SOMETHING IMPORTANT WE NEED A QUALIFIED PERSON TO DO.”

Lynn came back with: “I’m afraid you are right, Brad. They aren’t aware of the actual jobs that are done and the skills needed to perform them. When they are aware, they don’t value things like knowing how to get water supplies to hurricane victims or help someone with federal pension issues.”

ME: “Actually, it’s worse than that. They see public service as something contemptible, and think only contemptible people would want to do it. So they don’t want those people to have that cushy goody…”

LYNN: “Yes, I’m afraid these folks read Atlas Shrugged at an impressionable age and believe the unconstrained business superhero sits astride a world of those who SC Gov Hammond called ‘mudsills.’Most voters don’t know that they are regarded as mudsills.”

ME: Well… I think these people DO suspect, on some level, that they are regarded as belonging to a lower order, whatever term is applied. And they think elites, and those danged bureaucrats, are the ones who regard them as such…”

And dang it! I can’t find my conclusion! Did it disappear from the site formerly known as Twitter?

That’s what made me thing of this — when Ken said something about Southern history, it reminded me of what I had said….

I’ll try to reconstruct it. It went something like this, elaborating on my last point…

These folks think, “at least I’m better than those bureaucrats!” And when these folks are Southern voters, there’s a sort of hereditary background for this kind of thinking. Their “betters” (folks like Mr. Hammond) somehow persuaded them to think that however low they might be in the social order, they were better than somebody, because they were white…

I think that was it…

12 thoughts on “Them danged bureaucrats, and the folks who hate them

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Yeah, I know that wasn’t the greatest image for illustrating the idea of “bureaucrat.”

    I was trying to find some old black-and-white photo of a guy sitting at a desk with a sour expression, wearing sleeve garters and an eyeshade. Let me know if you find anything like that. I’m gonna go have lunch.

    And hey, I like Bill Nighy

  2. Barry

    Vivek comes up with crazy stuff to get air time. Otherwise, no one would pay him any attention at all (not that most are paying him any attention).

    A political reporter told Michael Smerconish earlier this week that high up campaign person working for a Republican candidate told him “You wouldn’t believe how bad the negative is just waiting to be released on Vivek if he ever got enough support in polling to scare anyone”

    He would not name the campaign who told him – and he said they didn’t tell him any of the information. But, he said he had asked another campaign if they had heard of such and they confirmed it.

    So apparently this guy has some crazy bad stuff in his closet.

    But again, no one is going to need it.

  3. Barry

    Such a silly standard by Vivek from folks that constantly preach wanting to run government like a business.

    Ramaswamy remains the sixth-largest shareholder of Roivant retaining a 7.17% stake. Roivant has never been profitable.

    Maybe he’s isn’t the best person to take any advice from.

  4. Ken

    Naw, it’s not a matter of folks feeling superior to bureaucrats. In all the encounters I’ve had with folks who think this way, it’s that they harbor resentment that some anonymous, invisible bureaucrat is “wasting my money” (taxes) devising useless regulations and programs that nobody asked for and that only end up “costing me more money.” But it’s no surprise that so many think this way. After all, they’ve had it preached to them by one major American political party since the candidacy of R. Reagan.

    1. Doug Ross

      Try running a small business…

      I spent many hours dealing with so many bureaucracies from county to state level.. the real cost in time and money was significant. Just one small example: because I bought a laptop to use for my consulting business, I had to file and pay county taxes of around $12 every year for that laptop. Sand then when I went l ended my business, it took months and many calls to stop getting bills.

      And if you want to understand the frustration of bureaucracies, look no further than the laws and rules related to the sale of alcohol in this state. Only an idiot in bureaucratic power could come up with them. Go to Greens on Assembly St and explain the logic of having two separate entries and legal hours of operation for a side by side business. Total stupidity driven by moralists and morons.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No. You say “Only an idiot in bureaucratic power could come up with them.”

        That’s not how things work. We’ve had this same conversation on other subjects. The reason you find these things hard to understand is that you fail to focus on the fact that NO ONE PERSON came up with it. This hodgepodge is the result of many generations of legislators all trying to get their own ideas into the system.

        The legislative process involves lots of people with DIFFERENT views working back and forth to try to come up with something that a majority of lawmakers can bring themselves to vote for.

        I’ve lived in three states, and spent a good bit of time in a fourth, since I’ve been old enough to buy alcohol. I don’t think South Carolina’s hodgepodge of laws stand out as any more confusion than the others. In fact, I think Pennsylvania might be the craziest.

        Of course, your main problem with liquor laws is that you’re a libertarian. I’m not. I like a drink now and then, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with people wanting to try to limit the harm that alcohol can cause. It’s just that everybody’s got a different idea how to do it, and everybody gets a say, and the system ends up like this.

        The alternative is autocracy…

        1. Doug Ross

          The inane laws don’t limit the harm alcohol can do… I can buy gallons of vodka at 6:59 pm on a Tuesday but can’t buy a mini bottle at 7:01. But I can go across the street to a bar and order 4 double vodka and tonics at 7:03. Or just buy a case of beer at the convenience store.

          And anyone who doesn’t think bureaucracies are a big deal apparently was asleep during COVID. The number of foolish rules based on literally nothing sprang up immediately, not through some extended process. There were literally taped lines in stores in Michigan marking which items could be purchased.. outdoor areas were shutdown for no good reason.

          And let’s not forget the good old TSA which is the poster child for government bureaucracy which sprung up immediately and still to this day inconveniences millions of travelers at an extreme cost with very, very, very little actual benefit. Only a bureaucrat could decide that 2 3.3 ounce bottles of shampoois allowed in carryon but not one 6 ounce bottle.
          I’ve experienced probably dozens of delays over the at least 1000 flights I’ve taken since 2001 for bag searches because I had fudge, pimento cheese, an extra tablet, etc. The cost benefit ratio on the TSA may be the worst in government.

        2. "Bobby"

          As a Bureaucrat, I believe is CLEARLY politicians that are messing “things” up. Stop drinking the political elite Kool Aide. Your mileage may vary, and stay in your lane.

      2. Ken

        Well, the world is full of anecdotal experiences that supposedly “prove” how inefficient and ineffective bureaucracies are. But that’s not what turns them into political targets of opportunity. For that, voters have to be carefully taught.

        Really, though, as is fitting and proper for modern, rational societies, most Western democracies have bureaucracies that approximate the Weberian ideal: a hierarchically structured, professional, rule-bound, impersonal, meritocratic, and disciplined body of public servants who possess a specific set of competences and who operate outside the sphere of politics. By contrast, people like Ramaswamy apparently consider the 19th century political spoils system their ideal. It’s an ideally bad deal.

  5. Ken

    S.C. Gov./Sen. James Henry Hammond was an especially vile representative of his class. Progenitor of the “mudsill theory,” codifying the idea that a class existed whose purpose is to serve their “betters.” He had “dalliances” with Wade Hampton’s teenaged daughters, ruining their reputations in society such that they never married. He maintained sexual relations with enslaved women on his plantations, casting aside one to take up with her young teenaged daughter as the former grew older. And then, in a 60-page letter to a Scottish pastor in which he defended slavery, he denied that such relations could ever occur, because the man who did such things would immediately lose his reputation.

    I visited Redcliff, his plantation south of North Augusta, last year to take further measure of this creature. As we were getting in the car to leave, a young heavily made up young lady in a wedding dress exited a vehicle next to ours, accompanied by a photographer, obviously intending to use the site as a “pretty “ backdrop for her wedding pictures. I had a strong urge to intervene and tell them in no uncertain words that this is no place for that. This is NOT a pretty place. It is a scene of concentrated and vicious wickedness.

  6. "Bobby"

    I am in Southern West Virginia. Cool Mining. Still King, but dying. Leaving a fascination culture of Native, Black, English and Italian. The small historic “colored” churches are dying. West Virginia exists due to slavery. Heavenly guidance finding a very early multi-cultural and diverse population. We White Folks must accept that change IMHO.

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