How to Think Like a Bureaucrat

by Andy Wood on April 15, 2016

in Consumers, Five LV Laws, Hoarders, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Principle of Freedom, Protecting Your Investment

Ram wearing spectacles.

Happy (Traditional) Tax Day!  So… Stick with me on this.

Last week, in news you probably missed, some engineering experts sounded a major alarm to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The subject: Self-driving cars.

The concern:  We’re not ready yet.

The evidence:  Unresolved technical issues, including some accidents.

The request:  Please, Dear Government Agency slow down your aggressive approach to issuing guidance for technology that is not ready for guidance yet.

That seems reasonable. Safe.  Wise for someone whose name has the word “Safety” in it.

That creates some tension for the agency, however. After all, they have a job to do – a service to the American people.  So Mark Rosekind, Director of the NHTSA, commented:

“Everybody asks, ‘When are they (self-driving cars) going to be ready?’ I keep saying they’re not coming; they are here now.”

Then he added this little revealing gem:

[Without federal instructions], “people are just going to keep putting stuff out on the road with no guidance on how do we do this the right way.”

With all due respect to Mr. Rosekind and the fine work I’m certain he and his agency does, he just gave us a priceless glimpse into the inner world of the bureaucrat, obviously driven by several critical doctrinal beliefs.

1. There is no unifying standard until the government says there is.

That’s not just true for auto safety; it’s true for everything. Forget that the technology isn’t complete yet. Forget that the government isn’t involved in the design, manufacture, testing or sales of the product. It must be the referee – the final arbiter of what is commonly acceptable.

2. There is no guidance without government guidance.

Get this:  Safety engineers, with skin in the game, were telling a government agency they were going too fast!  The reply: People need guidance, therefore they need government!  Forget the fact that the government doesn’t operate a lab and has no legal exposure and hasn’t been developing and testing the cars.  The government must provide answers in order for answers to exist.

3. When experts disagree or knowledge is incomplete, government still has the answers.

You need not fear shortfalls in development – your government is on the job.  That reminds me of an old George Carlin joke:  “I call ‘em like I see ‘em. And if I don’t see ‘em… I make ‘em up.”  Science, research, and innovation are nice to have, but a lack of that won’t stop your government from giving you answers anyway.

4. The government must shelter American citizens from “People” (inventors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators) and their “stuff” (inventions, experiments, new ideas, etc.).

Innovators are too dangerous and Americans are too stupid to operate on something as arcane as a free market or supply and demand.  Therefore we must all rely on our always-benevolent Nanny State to fight for us, guide us, protect us, and care for us.

5. Regardless of the subject or extent of our understanding, the government must have an opinion, guidelines, regulations, and an office somewhere to oversee it.

Pick something – anything – on the SciFi channel and I’ll guarantee you there’s already a government agency responsible for it.  Interplanetary travel?  Check.  Death-ray guns? Check.  Flying cars?  I’m sure there’s already an encyclopedia of regulations on that.  Now to be fair to the bureaucrats, this actually starts at the top. After all, have you ever heard a politician say, “I have no opinion about that?”

Not Just Limited to Government

Now lest you think I’m heading to the woods with my rifle and a cache of ammo and freeze-dried food, my point here is not just to howl at the moon over the ever-invasive choke hold of government that is sucking the very life out of every (natural born) American.

No, really, it isn’t.

It’s actually to point out how easy it is to slip into our own version of thinking like a bureaucrat. Or like the minions of bureaucracy.  Think about it.  I know some people who have no “talking points” until their favorite preacher, talk show host, or celebrity gives it to them.

I know some leaders who issue statements or opinions as if now that they’ve weighed in on it, the world can resume turning because we all know what to do.

I know people who “call ‘em like they see ‘em, and if they don’t see ‘em they make ‘em up.”

I know people who sincerely believe their role in life is to warn you and protect you against anything new, different, or innovative.

I know people in just about every industry who feel obligated to “issue guidance” before “guidance” is needed, wanted, or useful.

You don’t have to work for the government to think like a bureaucrat.  But it sure does offer some great on-the-job training.

And benefits.  Lots and lots of benefits.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Martha Orlando April 16, 2016 at 11:42 am

I agree that the government is too invasive and pervasive, Andy! People are much more capable and savvy than bureaucrats think they are, that’s for sure.
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Be Strong! Take Heart! And Wait . . .

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