Bureaucracy and the Right Direction

Some people say that we are now living in a post-bureaucratic era. An example of this is the TED video uploaded in YouTube last February 18, 2010.

Perhaps, those who believe that bureaucracy was already outmoded in the face of vast changes in human civilization were predicting an event that will take place some time in the future. But as far as our experience is concerned, bureaucrats are still part of our daily reality. We see their inefficiency, and we are not pleased the way they serve the public, their bosses, their employers, us. It is, as if, public fund is their only concern. But of course they hide it behind altruistic goals.

In the 5th chapter of Ludwig von Mises’ book, “Bureaucracy”, he identified that growth in government spending is one among the five social and political implications of bureaucratization. Based on Mises’ analysis of bureaucracy in Europe, this reality played a significant role in the collapse of democratic institutions. If such trend will continue, sooner or later, representative democracy will not survive.

Reading “Bureaucracy” leads me to reflect on the existing controversy that our country is facing. We are now aware about the Supreme Court declaration that DAP is unconstitutional. However, the Executive branch of our government refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the decision of the Supreme Court. After several days of reading news articles, I observe that the arguments of the current administration to justify its action concerning DAP boil down into two: they did it “in good faith” and that the people benefited from it.

Paraphrasing Judges 9:16-20, if DAP is really done “in good faith”, let there be joy among those who masterminded and benefited from it. But if not, let there be “fire” among them and let this fire consume all those who benefit from it.

Concerning the economic benefits of DAP, I solicited the ideas of my fellow libertarians. One of them responded that he did not see any. For him, “DAP is a big fat pork barrel except that it is under the ‘discretion’ of the office of the President.” This is a general reply. I am still searching if libertarians are indeed unanimous in their opinion and I am also concern about the details how libertarians came up with their conclusion.

Returning to Mises’ book, besides growth of government spending, the remaining four implications include bureaucratic contempt for human laws, complacency, bureaucratization of the mind, and the supremacy of the tyrant’s will. You can read the entire article here.

It is my hope and prayer that the present crisis we are now facing as a nation will lead to a realization that the expanding size of the government, higher taxes, and higher public spending do not offer us the solution, but the cause of all our economic sufferings. Once we recognize this, I think we will also realize that the path to economic growth can only be achieved if we will decide as a people to reverse our current direction. Personally and economically , I see this as “the right direction”.

Economic System of the Philippines

After browsing the third chapter of Ludwig von Mises’ Bureaucracy, I could not avoid thinking about the kind of economic system that we have in the Philippines. Capitalism is the popular perception. Others would consider our system as oligarchy, that is, not much different from feudalism. However, after reading the third chapter and checking some news and files, I am now more inclined to think that our economic system is still under experiment between socialism and capitalism. In fact, in the past, we were more inclined to socialism due to big number of GOCCs (Government Owned and Controlled Corporations)/SOEs (State Owned Enterprises). Nonoy Oplas, the owner of this blog shared that as of 1984, we had “303 GOCCs including subsidiaries.” However, as I browsed the web, I stumbled with two lists. One list gave a total of 67 GOCCs, and another list gave 133 as of 2004. So if the data is correct, it means that there is a reduction in number of GOCCs, which I personally consider as good sign. In fact, one news said that our President  is aiming to reduce its number to less than 100.

You can read the third chapter of Bureaucracy here.

By the way, these are the previous articles:


Introduction First Draft

Revised Introduction 1

Revised Introduction 2

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Ending Government’s Expansion by Returning to the Word of God

In the the last three sections of the Introduction of Bureaucracy, you will see the overview of Ludwig von Mises’ thesis that government omnipotence advanced by diverting the attention of the people from government bureaucratism to corporate bureaucratism, and that the advocates of the increasing power of the state failed to understand that the market with its system of profit management does not develop bureaucratic system without government intervention. In this article, I also shared R. B. Kuiper’s essay about irreligion as the theological cause for the increasing power of the state. We learned further that focusing on justice is the primary task of the state and that the biblical concept of man is contrary to totalitarianism.


Photo Credit

In concluding his essay, R. B. Kuiper argues that it is part of Christian duty to resist a totalitarian state. He shows us the way to stop the growing power of the state. It cannot be done through war for it leads to further growth of the state. Roman Catholicism cannot do it for its brand of totalitarianism cannot find biblical warrant. The principles of French Revolution are also not capable to defeat it for the dictatorship of the proletariat is just the opposite face of statist dictatorship. The only remaining solution is a return to the Word of God. Such return would mean that people should stop looking up to the state as the panacea to all our economic ills, that people should neither deride nor fight the state if it is doing its proper task, and that people should not trust the state, but criticize it when it is transgressing beyond the limits of its legitimate task.

Read the rest of the article

Related article:

The King of Kings

Looking Beyond the Bureaucratic System

And so for Ludwig von Mises, simply focusing on the evils of bureaucratism is misleading. One must see beyond the symptoms and penetrate into the source, a new political system that advocates government ominipotence, and socialism is the only ideology that provides justification for totalitarianism. See how Ludwig von Mises defines this conflict:
“The main issue in present-day political struggles is whether society should be organized on the basis of private ownership of the means of production (capitalism, the market system) or on the basis of public control of the means of production (socialism, communism, planned economy). Capitalism means free enterprise, sovereignty of the consumers in economic matters, and sovereignty of the voters in political matters. Socialism means full government control of every sphere of the individual’s life and the unrestricted supremacy of the government in its capacity as central board of production management. There is no compromise possible between these two systems. Contrary to a popular fallacy there is no middle way, no third system possible as a pattern of a permanent social order. The citizens must choose between capitalism and socialism . . . .” (Bureaucracy, 1944, p. 10).