Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

9-16 Bureaucracy

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- "Murder by bureaucracy" is what Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard called the governmental paralysis that is expected to result in thousands of deaths in New Orleans.
It's now evident that local, state and federal governments were restrained by regulations, lack of communication and unwillingness to relinquish power.
In the wake of the disaster that governmental inaction created, a clever item has been circling the Internet bringing a physical science explanation to the world of political science.
As the story goes, a major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "governmentium." It has 1 neutron, 12 deputy neutrons, 75 assistant neutrons and 224 deputy assistant neutrons, giving it an atomic weight of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.
Since governmentium has no protons or electrons, it is inert. However it can be detected, because it impedes every action with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of governmentium causes a reaction to take 4 days to complete, when it would normally take less than a second.
Governmentium has a normal half-life of four years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, governmentium's mass will actually increase over time since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This Hypothetical quantity is referred to as "critical morass. When catalyzed with money, governmentium becomes administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.
End of story.
Let it be said that there are many competent employees and elected officials at all levels of government. But bureaucracy usually does get in the way. It doesn't happen only in government. It is just as prevalent in private bureaucracies.
I am told that the middle management level of private bureaucracies is beginning to disappear. Middle management seems to be used primarily for communication. They attend meetings with other middle managers and report back.
Today, with computer networks making communication instant, top-level managers no longer have to depend on others to carry their messages and report back. They can now do much more of the communicating themselves, thereby speeding up action.
The general in charge of responding to the New Orleans disaster said he could have been on the scene six hours after the levees broke but it took him 34 hours to get through all the government red tape.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, formerly was able to communicate with any other governmental agency it needed to provide help. But under the Homeland Security Department, established by Congress and the President, all communications must go through Homeland Security and back.
All the changes after 9/11 were supposed to make our response to disaster more efficient. It appears government reorganization has made it worse. But even with all the bureaucratic obstacles that must be removed, one factor could have saved the day -- and thousands of lives.
Leadership is what was missing -- at every level. In retrospect, the 9/11 response was marvelous. The factor that was missing this time was former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, who cut through red tape at all levels to do what needed to be done.
I have a strong feeling that we will be seeing more of him. He has presidential ambitions and this will help these ambitions tremendously.
FRI, 9-16-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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