Saturday, February 5

Great law of Bureaucracy

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.

  1. The bureaucrat in question will not back down unless forced to from above.
  2. His superiors will regard any public resistance to the interpretation as an attack on the bureaucracy's legitimate turf.
  3. The bureaucracy's senior spokesman will defend the policy as both legitimate and necessary.
  4. Politicians will be pressured by voters to have the policy changed.
  5. The bureaucracy will tell the politicians that disaster will follow any such modification of the policy.
  6. The public will finally get used to it.
  7. The politicians will switch to some other national crisis.
  8. The internal manual will then be rewritten by the senior bureaucrats to make the goof-ball application mandatory.
  9. Senior management will increase the budget so as to enforce the new policy.
  10. 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.

Thursday, February 3

Selling Magazines

A photo which says a million words. Welcome to Afghanistan, look what the Afghan traditions and their interpretation of Islam has done to them. Mind you, all religions are interpretations anyway, but here you are. What irony


Would I mind if my son stays at home after uni?

First go read this article.

This made me think about what is my opinion about the kids moving out after their university education. My first reaction was, I actually do not mind and actually would welcome both kids staying at home. As a matter of fact, if that means moving to a new house where both kids have their own rooms is also fine. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't even mind moving to a bigger home with apartments for the kids and their families with a communal living area. heh, the patriarch of the house with a big joint family, eh?

But seriously, i think the eldest has a good head on his shoulder, he wouldn't be a parasite, his mum has trained both kids to do chores and contribute to the household. They help out with the sorting of the clothes, the unloading of the dishwasher, they bring the newspaper, help water the plants when I am away during summer, help with the shopping, so not that they are spoilt or anything.

But I cannot imagine living without them at home. And after I finished my thought, I was missing my parents back in India, they do not have the luxury of living with their children. Sighs, not a good thing.

Tuesday, February 1

Corruption a bigger disease than AIDS

I like the idea of countries refusing to give grants and aid to these global programmes who do not do more to fight corruption. So when Sweden announced that it will not pay its contribution of 1.5 billion kronor to the global fund to fight AIDS because the fund is not doing much to combat corruption in 4 countries where funds were diverted.

As it should be, why should the taxpayer monies be frittered away? And the fact that it will cause an impact on the AID fund’s working is a d’oh moment. This man, Michel Kazatchkine, who is the executive director of the fund, says that this will impact them. Well, d’oh, you muppet, you are obviously not clued up to the real life. What this translates to me is that yeah yeah, you are whining and moaning about corruption, we have done few things but despite the fact that I haven't been able to convince you about our efforts or actually made a difference by helping arresting officials or what have you, just gimme the money.

How extraordinarily stupid of you, Michel. You are taking money from the ordinary poor citizens of Sweden and giving it away to the rich citizens of these poor corrupt countries. Just where does that equation work out?

As far as United Kingdom is concerned, it is institutionally corrupt. If you do not believe me, tell me the last time that you heard that UK has actually helped prosecute or complain about corruption about our aid? Heck, it couldn't do anything about British Aerospace which was corrupting people left right and centre. ANYBODY arrested? nope. Anybody threatened with prosecution? nope. bah, shameful behaviour on part of the UK.

Sunday, January 30

Teach children how to manage finances

This article made me a bit upset. We are trying, via the SIFE trading game, to get more students up to speed on their financial situation, learn about how to handle savings, manage expenses, so on and so forth. Why on earth do we not teach our kids how to manage their finances? This is ridiculous. I quote:

The case for this is really strong. A paper out by the Financial Services Authority today says that most consumers don’t understand basic financial terms.  They don’t know what compound interest is, and they can’t work out whether the loan rate on the credit card is a good deal or not. They don’t know enough about bonus rates on savings products, so they frequently stay with their bank long after the savings rate it offered stopped being competitive. They don’t understand risk and reward in investment, so they are surprised when their fund, cosily named ‘Cautious’, falls 40 per cent in value.

We should be doing more to teach our kids how to manage their money so that they dont have bad financial histories and have to rely on the state because they cant be financially independent. The education secretary should really rethink this.

And the Saudi King says..

CASABLANCA: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and US President Barack Obama expressed their disapproval of the current turmoil in Egypt in a telephone conservation Saturday night.

“During the call, they reviewed relations between the countries and developments in the region as well as the tragic events taking place currently in Egypt that have been accompanied by chaos, looting, intimidation of innocents, exploitation of freedom and expression and attempts to ignite the flames of chaos to achieve their suspicious goals, which are not approved by Saudi and US sides,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The king also said the stability and security of the Egyptian people cannot be bargained with or be prejudiced under any justification.

“Egypt's capabilities and achievements are integral parts of the capabilities and accomplishments of the Arab and Islamic nations,” the king told the US president.

The king is currently recuperating from surgery in Morocco.

What the heck? USA has to approve this revolution in Egypt? Unbelievable, but then despots are like that. From here. Shameful on part of the Saudi king, but then what else can the poor man do? He is just your normal bog standard tin pot king trying to get along, no?

As for Obama, shame, seriously, mate, what’s up with your basic incoherence and inability to stand up to basic human principles? shame!

Benefit Conditionality

A good article on why tying welfare benefits to conditionality is good. But the argument that this cannot be done in a recession is wrong. The basic concept is that if you are offered a job, then you need to take it up or lose benefits. Fair point. But what’s that got to do with the recession? If and only if a job is offered, then you get into this issue. Even if ONE person out of the millions out of work gets work over benefits, then that is a good step, no? I understand the argument that the job has to pay more than the benefits otherwise this argument falls down but overall I dont understand why there is an issue? I quote:

"A lost generation”; “a wasted generation”; “a generation on the scrap heap” – those are some of the reactions to the news that youth unemployment has risen to nearly one million. And it is not hard to understand why. Unemployment at any time of life can be a disaster, but it can have particularly pernicious effects on the young, whose habits of work have not yet been formed: if a youngster spends a long time out of work and on benefits, he or she may never develop the discipline and determination necessary to seek and hold down a job.

Christine Snell runs Windmill Hill Fruit Growers, a soft fruit farm in Herefordshire. She has more than 300 people working on her farm in the summer, and she needs to employ at least 30 even during the winter months. The work is ideal for youngsters because experience is not necessary: all you need is a degree of physical fitness and the ability to turn up on time.

How many of her workers are English? Just one. She recruits almost the whole of her workforce abroad, mostly from Bulgaria and Romania.

“I desperately want to recruit locally,” she explains. “Every few months, I place ads in an attempt to attract local workers. The response to my most recent ad was typical. I got 17 replies. When I explained what was required – five days a week, eight hours a day, with wages of £6.50 an hour – only two of them were willing to work for me. The others dropped out either because they didn’t like the look of the work, or because I explained that I needed their National Insurance number in order to pay them. They wanted cash – they said if they weren’t paid in cash, they would lose their benefits, which they were eager to keep.” Mrs Snell told them she would not be complicit in an attempt to defraud taxpayers. That was enough to put those potential employees off.

“Of the two that agreed to start work,” she continues, “one didn’t turn up, and the other gave up after a week. The unemployment rate around here is high, and there are a lot of youngsters at the local job centre. But the truth is that none of them seem interested in taking the jobs that are on offer. I absolutely don’t like recruiting abroad, not least because it increases my costs: I have to get all the contracts and health and safety documents translated, and I have to find accommodation for all the foreign workers. But what else can I do? Believe me, if there were English youngsters around here willing to do the work, I would hire them like a shot!”

this was sad

But the one nationality you almost never find waiting on your table or tending the bar is someone from Britain. Owners of bars and restaurants say that the reason they don’t employ young Brits is straightforward: too many of them are unreliable, unwilling to work hard and to accept that you can’t be rude to customers.

And then this warning:

Whether it would actually ensure that they created more jobs is, of course, another matter. But even economists are agreed that when the job market picks up, the first section of the British population to benefit will be the young, because they are first in the queue for new jobs.

Providing, that is, that better qualified and more enthusiastic immigrants do not take them first.

Shocking waste. We don't have the gumption to deal with these things although after the economic disaster of the Labour government, I have slightly higher hopes for the coalition. And all this while, immigration grows to cater for this gap, thereby pissing off just this group of feckless feral youth who flock to the EDL and BNP. And the governments don't do anything about it.

update: Here is an updated article from the same newspaper.