Why Do Large Bureaucracies Behave Stupidly?

The shale energy revolution points out a weakness of large bureaucracies: They are unable to move quickly in an environment of risk and low margins. Exxon did not develop the Texas and North Dakota shale fields, but smaller and quicker oil companies did. The US bonanza did not take place on public lands controlled by a massive bureaucracy, it happened on private lands. Russia and the EU, hobbled by corrupt bureaucracies and the lack of private land rights, are having a difficult time keeping up with nimbler competitors of a smaller size.

Europe is not only hobbled by a corrupt and unwieldy bureaucracy, but also by a dysfunctional false belief in anthropogenic carbon climate doom. Because of this false belief, the EU bureaucracy has committed the continent to a disastrous energy plan.

More here.

The invention of the bureaucracy allowed ancient empires such as Egypt, Sumer, Indus, and China, to control far larger regions than would have otherwise been possible.

Roman, Ottoman, Spanish, French, and British empires all depended upon large bureaucracies to keep track of their widespread holdings.

But to exploit new technological niches quickly, large bureaucracies can be unwieldy, with heavy congestion of the lines of input and output — to say nothing of the decay that comes with the corruption of growing much too large to be of good use.

The decay, corruption, and unwieldiness of bureaucracies can become a heavy burden upon the underlying societies which must pay taxes and fees to support the corruption, and which must work under the burden of bureaucratic regulations and limitations on private action.

When such burdensome bureaucracies adopt and enforce irrational policies that further confuse and corrode ordinary life and commerce, which are based on no better reason than unsupported ideology, productive tax paying citizens can become confused as to their ultimate role in the giant and often failing system.

Corrupt bureaucracies behave in stupid and unproductive ways in terms of the prosperity and freedom of action of the underlying societies. Favored insiders of wealth and influence will profit, while ordinary citizens and workers suffer under reduced opportunities, loss of purchasing power, and loss of freedoms.

And so entire new giant bureaucracies are born on the basis of “income inequality” in an attempt to persuade the masses that the bureaucracy cares and will act to their benefit. As the new bureaucracy is born in corruption and dysfunction — adding to the overall burden on the underlying society — its net effect on society will be further loss of opportunity, purchasing power, and personal liberty.

The public can never be allowed to understand its role in propping up the corrupt bureaucratic classes. Nor can the voting public be allowed to understand how the corrupt bureaucratic classes prop up powerful insiders. The game is fixed, but every “cure” that is proposed by “reformers” is guaranteed to make the problem even more fixed and permanent.

When these giant machines of corrupt dysfunction start to fail, stand well back. The falling rubble can spread destruction over a wide area. It could take many months or years for normal self-organized cooperative human efforts to supply essential needs. During that time, a lot of things can happen.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and remember: It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood.

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One Response to Why Do Large Bureaucracies Behave Stupidly?

  1. Matt Musson says:

    Individually, we are smart. Together, we are dumb.

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