Nov 9, 2009

A further thought on administrators

A few posts back I was talking smack about the Peace Corps and put down administrators rather glibly. My grandmother reminds me that my grandfather was an city manager in Tempe years ago, and by all accounts a good one.

Americans especially are mistrustful of government employees, and it's easy to find examples of mindless bureaucrats callously stamping on someone. Yet for the most part our government works fairly well. When Republicans ask if I'd like a health care system that works like the post office, I reply "hell yes!" Relatively cheap, reliable, a bit rickety, always running out of money, but they get the job done. At least they aren't actively trying not give me what I paid to have.

Decent bureaucrats are one of the most glaring necessities in South Africa. Especially in a heavily socialized country like this one, if one doesn't have a semblance of professionalism throughout the government, your state-run electricity tends to go out all the time (just one example).

Of course we in the states have a long way to go to achieve the efficiency of, say, Denmark. Yet it's not 1984. The mail gets delivered and seniors get their social security checks. It's probably a good idea to be skeptical of bureaucrats and managers, but we must appreciate the decent ones when they deserve it.

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