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If it’s so terrible why do you want more of it?

Summary:
The Guardian tells us that the Home Office is terrible, awful, simply not fit for purpose:The review exposes the department as unfit for the society it is supposed to serve, after a series of colossal failures, rooted in a toxic internal culture and an ingrained misunderstanding of Britain’s colonial history.....There is not one easy fix to the culture of the Home Office, or the inhumane policies driving the unnecessary suffering it creates.For once we actually agree with that newspaper. However, we would go on and insist that there’s nothing particular nor specific about the Home Office. This is just what bureaucracies become, it’s an inevitable outcome of the points made by C. Northcote Parkinson. Once established the purpose of any bureaucracy is the perpetuation of that bureaucracy.

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The Guardian tells us that the Home Office is terrible, awful, simply not fit for purpose:

The review exposes the department as unfit for the society it is supposed to serve, after a series of colossal failures, rooted in a toxic internal culture and an ingrained misunderstanding of Britain’s colonial history.

....

There is not one easy fix to the culture of the Home Office, or the inhumane policies driving the unnecessary suffering it creates.

For once we actually agree with that newspaper. However, we would go on and insist that there’s nothing particular nor specific about the Home Office. This is just what bureaucracies become, it’s an inevitable outcome of the points made by C. Northcote Parkinson. Once established the purpose of any bureaucracy is the perpetuation of that bureaucracy. Whatever it is that it was originally supposed to do becomes entirely an irrelevance to its own working procedures.

The solution therefore is to have as few bureaucracies as possible doing as little as possible. The Indian civil service in the days of the Raj was never more than 1200 people administering several hundred million. That might not be quite the exact and precise proportion we should have today but it’s a useful target to aim for.

The bit we truly don’t understand though. We get endless complaints from those to our left that government isn’t doing this right, or it’s appalling, or that the system has entirely lost its way. At which point we agree, of course. It’s just that having done this complaining, often providing convincing proof of the assertion, why do they then call for more of what so clearly doesn’t work?

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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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