William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Stream: Why The Election Won’t Matter Much: We’re Doomed

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Update Stream is up and down. I’ve been told “nerds are working on it.” So if you are having troubles, keep checking back.

Today’s post is at the Stream: No Matter Who Wins in November, the Federal Bureaucracy Will Grow: Doom is just around the corner regardless of who wins the Presidency.

Lots of election hand wringing out there. Doctors complain of a tsunami of dyspeptics, psychologists are inundated by the anxious, even masseuses aren’t able to kneed the knots of stress quickly enough. Everybody is asking: Will American Bern in November? Will an army of Trumpites rise and devour the land like locusts? Will Washington be Cruzified and cast into darkness? Or will the Purple Pant-Suited Monster unleash a cackle of destruction of Biblical proportion?

One of these fates we’ll suffer, that much is certain, and surely some of these banes are worse than others. But which we end up with really won’t matter much one way or the other. Why?

Because the body politic is infected by an incurable cancer, one that grows inexorably regardless of the treatment applied. That cancer is the bureaucracy. The disease is non-localized, systemic; its tendrils have reached into every organ and system of governance. Its pervasiveness is why treatment is futile. Even if we could cut the cancer out, the surgery would kill the patient. Prognosis? Terminal. Here’s my proof…

The government also saw to it, under the Change in Bank Control Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)) and §?225.41 of the Board’s Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.41), that Margaret M. Brownlee (among others) will be allowed to “to retain voting shares of Bank Management, Inc”.

These examples could go on and on—and in fact they do. The handful shown are culled from the list of proposed regulations for just one day and listed helpfully on the site Regulations.gov. There were 58 new regulations on the day I accessed the site, Friday, 11 March 2016. Fridays are slow days, especially in government offices. We know this because over the last 90 days there were 5,767 new regulations and (as of that same date) at least 1,206 more to come over the next 90 days. That’s roughly 24 thousand new regulations per yer, a rate which ever increases…

It’s all there and all under government control. Why? Try suggesting that the government shouldn’t regulate aircraft maintenance schedules. You’d probably convince a majority of its needlessness. But there would be a small, vocal minority which is utterly certain that if the government ceased its micro-oversight, planes would drop out of the sky. What about the children?

This skittishness, which is everywhere, accounts for part of the inexorable growth of the bureaucracy. The other cause is that once a regulation is in place it is soon realized it is not specific as it should have been. And so it is amended, added to; it divides like a well-fed paramecium…

Go there—do it!—to read the rest.

13 Comments

  1. It’s surely not that bad, is it?

    “Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission), and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), that a planning meeting of the South Dakota Advisory Committee to the Commission will convene at 12:00 p.m. (MST) on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, via teleconference. The purpose of the meeting is to review current civil rights issues in the state identified by state advisory committee members. A goal of the meeting is to select a topic for study.”

    Ok. We’re doomed.

  2. My mother called me a pessimist. It’s good she never read your blog.

    It’s not incurable nor is it terminal. It’s just that the cure is very painful and takes a great deal of time. Besides, humanity has lived with various forms of this cancer for eons. Freedom really is not human beings natural state for most of the time we’ve been on this planet. One should be happy they lived in this brief period of freedom. Most are never that lucky.

    Don’t get me started on lawyers and the law. Personal injury lawyers are in bed with the devil and should be exiled to a desert island where they can sue each other as they slowly starve to death. They are horrible creatures. (I was reminded of this with the fracking case with NO evidence but a jury that wanted to get even with the company that keeps the lights on. Of course, if the idiot company shut the lights off…..No, I’m dreaming…..)

    The EPA ordered fuel companies to use a fuel additive that does not exist. If only Atlas would wake up and shrug…..

    The Apple phone lock shows definitively the government is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact, they are looking more and more like plastic cutlery all the time.

    Planes do drop out of the sky.

  3. Matt,
    Have you been reading a lot of Derbyshire lately?

  4. Montesquieu said, “We should never create by law what can be established by morality.” Which explains why the number of rules and regulations continue to grow as morality becomes increasingly relativistic.

    Tacitus best describes the ultimate outcome, “When the state is most corrupt, then the laws are most multiplied.”

  5. The election matters because there is a chance that the next president will nominate at least one Supreme Court justice. Conservatives may be doomed because Trump is socially liberal, imo. Sorry that you feel that you are doomed.

  6. JH: It is now irrelevent what party replaces a Supreme Court judge. Five of the justices (including the recently deceased Scalia) were appointed by Bush or Reagan. Four were appointed by Obama or Clinton. Yet liberal ruling after liberal ruling keeps coming out of the court—the Republican majority is worthless. Obviously, no matter what a judge went in with as a political leaning, they are fully capable of leaning left whenever they deem it politically expedient. No matter who gets the next judge appointed, there’s obviously no guarantee that anything will change. Let’s face it—judges like to be liked to and if they perceive that leaning left will get them in with the popular kids, they will lean.

  7. Mike in KC, MO

    March 14, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    My reaction to the upcoming election:

    “Quick! Grab the copper out of the walls!!!”

  8. Current wonderful space telescope was named for Edwin Hubble, a real scientist who did real sciency stuff.

    The next wonderful space telescope has been named for James E. Webb, a career bureaucrat.

    Because we must start honoring the invaluable work career bureaucrats do to make, um, life, well, sumptn’ sumptn.

  9. Well, something is doomed. The bureaucracy will continue to grow, the economy will slow, but the people will still be here. Most of the buildings other infrastructure will remain. Much knowledge will be preserved in books, and these will likely survive as they are widely dispersed.

    The key is to preserve a remnant that remembers freedom and the Source of that freedom, and a nation with separated powers and rule of law can be reestablished some time in the future.

  10. The next wonderful space telescope has been named for James E. Webb, a career bureaucrat

    But the bureaucrat who personally was responsible for the very existence of many (if not all) of the space telescopes including the Hubble telescope. Of course, bureaucrats should always remain unrecognized as their work is meaningless.

  11. Only an entire purging of the simpletons in government will fix the idiot savants in the bureaucracy. The SES cadre is merely an exercise in nepotism to reward the butt kissers. They provide little if any positive actions regardless of the department they laze around in.

  12. As much as bureaucracy is terrible, it did enable many of our wonders to exist. Policy and Procedure are beasts, but Policy and Procedure are incredibly useful.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0qyjS2pNxM

    Is an example of a Lock used to secure a safety point and make sure that equipment is not used that might cause injury to someone. I was taught the Tagout system which attempts to do the same thing, but there are no physical locks to prevent activation of equipment. Lockouts are superior. They feel superior anyway. There is a little loop hole problem though. The plastic cases on these locks are the loop hole. They can be broken relatively easily. A hammer will do it. Policy and Procedure have to be in place to make the breaking of that lock taboo. YOU DO NOT BREAK THESE LOCKS. If a guy drives off without removing his lock, you call him and get him back. It might take an hour, but you get him back to unlock his lock.

    What happens if the guy is hit by a car on his way home?

    You get to break the lock. How do you go about breaking the lock without FUBARRING Policy and Procedure to make sure people stay safe? I would go so far as to create a completely BS ritual around the breaking of such a lock solely to infuse something resembling magic into the group watching it..

    I, an avowed atheist, might even pray, wave incense, get blessings from the gods, and put a drop of my blood onto the specially designed sledge hammer with an embossed impact area so that my blood is infused into the scraps that are left of the lock afterward. The scraps of the lock will be carefully collected and stored in a container with the name of the supervisor and the name of the employee who failed to unlock the lock.

    I would do this to try and prevent someone from dying because a lock was removed when it wasn’t supposed to be removed. Some clever punk, looking exactly like me, is quite likely going to come along and see through all my BS, and ignore the reason for the BS, and get someone killed.

    As much as I like to swear at inspectors and their insidious attention to detail, I also swear at the inspectors who don’t pay any attention. I always swear where they can’t hear me though.

  13. Security applied should match the criticality and necessity of whatever is being protected. For example, it’s ridiculous to triple encrypt a list whose contents will be revealed in the next hour — particularly if it is, say, a list of invitees to the next party.

    The Master lockouts shown in the video seem an overkill. Except for the case of a lockout inadvertently left locked, the only reason for bypassing the lock is to do potential harm. A simple pin should suffice with a tag that says Do Not Operate should suffice except that the person working downline would undoubtedly feel more secure if it is a keyed lock. But a lock that has hard-to-pick security pins and a ball bearing mechanism seems overly protective especially considering it’s all wrapped in a rather easily breakable plastic case. A lot like installing a heavy duty security door next to a very breakable window.

    Yes, though, there need to be procedures to remove a lockout by anyone other than the emplacer. Things happen. What’s needed before removing it is a verification that doing so will not harm anyone. But this is really no different than any other engineering verification protocol used, for example, to build a bridge.

    However, just like this apparently overdone lockout lock, the protocols can be excessive and silly. The best protection is implementation of penalties for circumvention. But wait! Applying the penalties has a protocol, too. People are ever so bureaucratic.

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