When important tasks are done badly or inefficiently (e.g., hyperbureaucratically) there are several potential explanations that range across an interesting spectrum of failure:

  • Malignity — The people working the problem are actually evil, desire the worst, and are consciously pursuing their malevolent ends. Put that baldly it sounds improbable, but sometimes it's sadly true; look at the darker episodes in history for tragic examples.
  • Insanity — Responsible parties aren't; that is, they're irresponsible because their mental activity fails to track reality due to a brain malfunction. Unlikely as it seems, it has happened before and will doubtless happen again.
  • Stupidity — The authorities are merely incompetent to do their job; replace them with less doltish individuals and the situation will instantly improve.
  • Insufficiency — All involved are doing their best to perform the mission, but there just aren't enough resources (personnel, time, money, etc.). Allocate more, downsize the assignment, or live with the results.

But there's yet another reason for apparent fecklessness: misperception by the outside observer. A critic can be simply wrong — s/he doesn't know what's really going on. It happens; I have to plead guilty myself, when I've plunged into a new field and prematurely thought that I'd gotten it all figured out. Sometimes things aren't as simple as they look; sometimes the idiots on the other side of the desk have reasons for what they're doing. What's needed, in order to help things get better, is a combination of patience, tolerance, and a willingness to learn.

Which in the context of politics reminds me of Winston Churchill's remark:

Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.

(see also PolicyMaking (6 Oct 2002), ...)

TopicOrganizations - 2002-10-20

(correlates: WeHappyFew, BeingThere, ForTheVisuallyImpaired, ...)