Monday, November 21, 2011

The Republican Party and the Iron Law of Bureaucracy

Jerry Pournelle coined the term some time back, describing how organizations predictably lose their focus on their ostensible goals as the management hierarchy is taken over by people devoted to the organization, not the goals.  Pournelle termed this the Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

The typical example of the Iron Law in action is the workings of the Teacher's Union, where it's become impossible to fire incompetent teachers, layoffs are done by seniority (as opposed to by letting the bottom 10% of the teachers go), and where salary and benefit spending crowds out teaching supplies in budget planning.

But all organizations find that the Iron Law applies to them.  Tam looks incredulously at the GOP, fixin' to go down in flames in the upcoming election:
Have you really stepped back and looked at this Jim Rose Circus you're trotting out in front of the American people? Are you guys trying to throw this election? Or has the job become so onerous that no decent person with an ounce of brains would seriously apply for it anymore?
They're not trying to throw the election, they're caught in the vise grip of the Iron Law.  The GOP is a large, top-down bureaucracy like all political parties.  People rise in the organization by bringing home the bacon to the GOP's many hangers on, just like the Teacher's Unions are successful by bringing higher pay, benefits, and job security to their members.

So the question we need to ask is what are the benefits and who receives them?  A great place to start is by looking at Sarah Palin's run for Governor in Alaska.  The Alaskan GOP was famously - and notoriously - corrupt.  Shady insider deals put a lot of filthy lucre in the pocket of Alaskan GOP insiders.  Palin ran against that, and won.  The GOP machine never forgave her.

Some may say that the Democratic Party is just as corrupt, and you'll get no argument from me.  But today's subject is the Republican Party.

And so take a look at a hypothetical candidate that might sweep to power as a GOP nominee in 2012, with the Tea Party and Independents joining with Republicans for a landslide.  The winning platform is less centralization in Washington D.C, less government control, fewer government intrusion into things that government does poorly and has no business doing anway.

The common denominator there?  All of those reduce the opportunity to feed the GOP party bureaucracy.  And so the bureaucracy fights any outsider who looks like he (or she) might upset the apple cart.  Campaigns of whispers from insiders to members of a biased media looking for dirt to prop up their Lightbringer and his party.  I don't for a second think that the paper thin harassment story against Herman Cain came from the Democrats.  It's a cold, dead certainty that it was the GOP machine that is trying to cut him down.

You see, Cain is very likely to be bad for business.  Well, bad for the GOP Bureaucracy's business, anyway.

And so they'd rather throw an election than give up their perks and opportunities for filthy lucre.  And what it's starting to look like is that they'll get someone safe (to them) like Romney, who will depress turnout from Tea Party and Independents, and so a GOP landslide will turn into four more years of Obama - and possibly even continued Democratic control of the Senate.

It's almost scripted.  The Iron Law can only be overthrown by overthrowing the entire organization, as Wisconsin Governor Walker did to the Teacher's Union there (eliminating collective bargaining and automatic withholding of union dues).  So what will do it to the GOP establishment?  The party will have to fracture, as the old Whig party did in the 1850s.  The Iron Law will once again begin its work on the new establishment, but for a moment at least, the cobwebs will be cleared out.

And so I say again that the Democrats are not the problem, and the Republicans are not the solution.  The problem is an institutionalized ruling class that has contempt for the people of this land, other than as a source of filthy lucre.


Alan said...

In 1980, the GOP insiders hated Reagan more than the liberals did.

The last thing they want is a repeat of the Reagan revolution where new blood entering the GOP upset a lot of apple carts.

The GOP doesn't care if they lose as long as the right people stay in charge of the party.

BobG said...

"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right."
- H. L. Mencken

“Society is like a stew. If you don't stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.”
- Edward Abbey

Rev. Paul said...

It seems you've been listening to conversations at my house ... or perhaps we have, to yours.

Right on.

Atom Smasher said...

I disagree with you & Tam, BP. I'm okay with the choices offered and I think the Repubs will do well next November. And I think that will be, overall, a Good Thing.

But we'll see.

TinCan Assassin said...

Write in Sarah Palin

wolfwalker said...

I recognize two Iron Laws of Bureaucracy, not one:

1) A bureaucrat's first priority is to hold on to the power he/she has.

2) A bureaucrat's second priority is to add to the power he/she has, as much as possible, as often as possible.

When you see members of an organization operating according to these two rules, you know you're looking at a bureaucracy.

In any case, though, the result is just what you've described, Borepatch. The GOP party hierarchy is more interested in holding on to the goodies than it is in actually accomplishing anything. Time to blow it all away and start fresh.

Ken said...

"It's a cold, dead certainty that it was the GOP machine that is trying to cut him down."

Specifically, it was Slick Willard's campaign. Book it. I'm telling you -- he's the nominee, I'll vote for Obama. Only Cthulhu would be a greater evil, and he ain't on the ballot.