Gary North’s first law of bureaucracy: “Some bureaucrat will enforce a written rule in such a way as to make the rule and the bureaucracy seem either ridiculous, tyrannical, or both.”
Brilliant stuff, I quote:
I have come to recognize a series of near laws governing bureaucracy. This one is, as far as I can see, unbreakable, comparable to the law of gravity.
Some bureaucrat will enforce a written rule in such a way as to make the rule and the bureaucracy seem either ridiculous, tyrannical, or both.
There is no way to write the rules so that some bonehead in the system will not find a way to become a thorn in someone's side – a thorn that cries out for removal.
There are corollaries to this iron law of bureaucracy.
- The bureaucrat in question will not back down unless forced to from above.
- His superiors will regard any public resistance to the interpretation as an attack on the bureaucracy's legitimate turf.
- The bureaucracy's senior spokesman will defend the policy as both legitimate and necessary.
- Politicians will be pressured by voters to have the policy changed.
- The bureaucracy will tell the politicians that disaster will follow any such modification of the policy.
- The public will finally get used to it.
- The politicians will switch to some other national crisis.
- The internal manual will then be rewritten by the senior bureaucrats to make the goof-ball application mandatory.
- Senior management will increase the budget so as to enforce the new policy.
- Politicians will acquiesce to this increased budget.
This leads me to North's law of bureaucratic expansion:
Any outrageous interpretation of a bureaucratic rule, if widely resisted by the public, will lead to an increased appropriation for the bureaucracy within two fiscal years.
There is an exception.
If the enforcement of the interpretation requires major expenditures for new equipment, the process will take only one fiscal year.