Bureaucracy and Pygmies

This morning I heard a report that only a fraction of the U.S. pledge of $1.2 billion in direct aid to Haiti has reached its destination. Such a sad commentary about bureaucracies and how they impede charitable efforts such as this one. Interesting that bureaucracies were initially representative of something good. David Osborne and Ted Gaebler point out in their book "Reinventing Government":
"It is hard to imagine today, but a hundred years ago bureaucracy meant something positive. It connoted a rational, efficient method of organization – something to take the place of the arbitrary exercise of power by authoritarian regimes. Bureaucracy brought the same logic to government work that the assembly line brought to the factory. With the hierarchical authority and functional a specialization, they made possible the efficient undertaking of large complex tasks."
That makes sense to me. It seems that such logic should be brought to bear once again to our modern day bureaucracies. Here are a few ideas about them and my thoughts:
“Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.” -Franz Kafka
I think that.. as many Tea Partiers espouse.. a governmental revolution is needed again.. yet.. as Kafka indicates.. another bureaucracy would probably arise. Just think of the GOP's 1994 Contract with America and how, in less than a decade, Republicans became spendaholics far removed from those folks elected in 1994.
“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.” -Honore de Balzac
I think that this hits to the heart of the issue. A sense of hopelessness results when the system becomes bigger that the people who work in it. I feel that it is the way that many people view the government. And sadly many other entities, both secular and religious, reflect this sentiment of bureaucracy and pygmies.
“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.” -Thomas Sowell
This quote speaks to the sickness involved when the focus is taken off the objectives. I think that this might be the case in Haiti. Perhaps bureaucratic organizations have taken their eye off the suffering people of Haiti. Lets hope that, at least in this case, ways are found to bypass bureaucratic red tape and get aid to Haitians.

Ever been part of an effective bureaucracy? Or caught up in bureaucratic red tape?


  1. I am getting a new Missouri driver's license and plates this week.. I am dreading the bureaucratic DMV antics :(

  2. Solomon told us there was nothing new under the sun. A new "revolution" will only be as unbiblical as the first one was and won't produce anything new. If we see anything by the degredation of government leaders through the years we are going from good to bad.

    We are to pray for governmenal officials, recognize that they are put in place by God as He sees fit, and we are to submit (unless it violates biblical standars - not political, personal, societal, or even common sense).

    As the church degenerates (local-not universal) and marries the world, mores degenerate - the times we are living in Paul told Timothy will grow worse and worse, with evil "seemingly" triumphanying over good.

    The only time these issues will ever be set straight will be in a theocracy. We need to vote, hold politicaians accountable.

    When the American people determine that political parties and platforms were more imporant than character (Bill Clinton, etc) we were doomed. If the highest character is expected from elected officials then no revolution will change anything.

    We cannot change this entitlement, ego-centric, give me give socialistic government. We can not have our cake and eat it too, we can't have socialistic welfare, handouts, and entitlement and have responsible, fiscal, intelligent, and even moral government.

    We are a nation to has sucumbed to sybolism over substance. I wish we could stave off II Timothy 3 but God said it would happen.

    I will vote, I will pray for government officials, and I am waiting for the return of my Lord to establish His kingdom where He will rule with a rod of Iron.

  3. By the way, does your comment mean you will become Missouri Bob instead of Kansas Bob?

  4. @Gregg - I think that the problems of bureaucracy are also running rampant in churches and corporations. Even in smaller churches there seems to be a preoccupation with procedures. It is a problem that seems to bigger than just government.

    And I did consider changing to KC Bob but don't think that it makes much difference.. I can see across the river to Kansas from my deck. :)


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