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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:How to Become a Crony (With a Warning)

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Over at Ask a Bureaucrat, David S. Reed fields a question from a reader who has become interested in becoming a crony. I'm ready to get off my high horse and join in, "Boss Tweed" admits, apparently after being passed over for promotion in favor of one flunky too many. Reed facetiously, but relevantly, asks his reader to promise to use his power only for good before explaining exactly how to do this:
Image by Thomas Nast, via Wikipedia, public domain.
Your challenge is to build a crony relationship with your agency's officials, even though appointed officials typically stay in the same job only a few years. You can do it by adopting the same short time horizon as the appointee. When he announces a pet project, do not talk about how similar efforts failed before he came to the agency, or how this one is doomed to fail a few years from now after he has moved on. Instead, help rally attention and enthusiasm for the current effort. When the official is in a pinch to get something done, volunteer the efforts of yourself and the people you supervise. This will force you to juggle your workload, so prioritize what will solve the official's immediate problem. Sacrifice the work which would only show results in the long term. [bold added]
As with shampoo, there will be a rinse-and-repeat with future officials, who will forgive and forget whatever mistakes can be blamed on their predecessors. The irony, of course, is that there is no way to exercise such "power" for good.

It may well be that, even if our government were pared down to its proper scope, we would still have government bureaucrats. Nevertheless, I think the hazard of this problem would be greatly reduced (in terms of both opportunity and impact) under such circumstances. Furthermore, the very susceptibility of government bureaucracies to such a problem should make people more wary of placing more and more of our lives under direct or indirect bureaucratic control. Of course, that is on top of the fact that any government agency that is involved in centrally planning the economy is already curtailing our freedom.

-- CAV

P.S. I suppose one could make an argument that, under some circumstances, operating a government agency this way could achieve a noble purpose, as a means of sabotaging something clearly inimical to freedom. But the odds of such a situation arising seem ... long.

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