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Organisations do indeed age into senescence

Summary:
An interesting point made by those who might know. Apollo veterans stating that Nasa is simply too old a, too bureaucratic an, organisation to be able to get someone back to the Moon.Nasa may be too old and too bureaucratic to reach the Moon within five years, astronauts who flew on the Apollo mission and members of mission control have warned.One of us has had mild business dealings with the organisation and light on its feet is not how we would describe it.“As you get older things change, you don’t get things done as fast, and plus the management environment in Nasa is bureaucratic, much more so than it was during Apollo.”A C Northcote Parkinson would have pointed out, this is only an example of a more general phenomenon. Organisations do become encrusted with bureaucracy as they age -

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An interesting point made by those who might know. Apollo veterans stating that Nasa is simply too old a, too bureaucratic an, organisation to be able to get someone back to the Moon.

Nasa may be too old and too bureaucratic to reach the Moon within five years, astronauts who flew on the Apollo mission and members of mission control have warned.

One of us has had mild business dealings with the organisation and light on its feet is not how we would describe it.

“As you get older things change, you don’t get things done as fast, and plus the management environment in Nasa is bureaucratic, much more so than it was during Apollo.”

A C Northcote Parkinson would have pointed out, this is only an example of a more general phenomenon. Organisations do become encrusted with bureaucracy as they age - that just what happens in human organisations. Which is why that market system is preferable. Simply because it contains within it the euthanasia system for those organisations which have become too so encrusted to be efficient.

The varied private sector space companies - those of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk only being the better known - are feeding from the same basic technological trough as Nasa. Everyone’s got access to the same general state of knowledge about rocketry. But they are delivering the goods rather more cheaply. Which is simply another example of the same basic truth.

The conclusion here being that getting government to do things would be greatly more efficient if we also had that culling process, one quite as vicious as the marketplace. Say, every bureaucracy must be wiped out, the land ploughed with salt, every 40 years or so.

Quite, it’s not going to happen, is it? Thus, in the name of that efficiency we should instead not build the bureaucracies to do things in the first place….

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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