georgialivin-deactivated2014080 asked:

From a like minded individual I'm curious, are there any government programs or offices or random acronyms that you do think operate in a manner that is acceptable, beneficial, and effective? SS is crap as is the epa and the blm etc. Any worthwhile?

Let’s take a look at some departments and agencies shall we…

Department of Agriculture - Not needed.  This essentially is a body of regulators and cronies that ruin our food prices and deliver food stamps and other nonsense.

• Department of Commerce - This can be disbanded and left only to serve as a group of volunteers to run the Census when needed.  The Patent and Trademark Office can remain but should be run on a shoestring budget by a handful of underpaid bureaucrats.

• Department of Defense - This can also remain but needs to be severely trimmed down especially in the countless agencies under each branch of the military…such as the NSA.  I’m sure whatever DARPA is doing these days is far inferior to those contractors in the private sector anyway.

• Department of Education - Completely worthless.  Needs to be shutdown.

• Department of Energy - Also no longer needed.  The private sector is more responsible with our energy needs.  Also, why is the DOE working on genomics?  What the hell does that have to do with energy?

• Department of Health & Human Services - Our most expensive agency.  Of course it has to go, but that would mean we would have to get rid of Medicaid, Medicare and Obamacare.

I’ll tell you what, you can leave up the CDC, also run on a shoestring budget by a handful of bureaucrats.

• Department of Homeland Security - We already have a Department of Defense.  This is just duplicated bureaucracy.  It needs to go.  Every inch of it.

• Department of Housing and Urban Development - Hmmm…

• Department of the Interior - This can also be scaled back but I don’t mind many of these services so long as they are kept small and bend over backwards to citizens when using land and resources.

• Department of Justice - I suppose this is rather important but can always use some trimming.  Do we really need a DEA?  And if we do, do we really need a National Drug Intelligence Center and an Office of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces too?  It appears to be more redundancy to me.

• Department of Labor - Another department that can be run by a handful of bureaucrats in a broom closet somewhere.

• Department of State - Limit this to the Secretary of State and the few office staff he/she needs.  That is all.

• Department of Transportation - Eliminate 70% of the useless administrations that are part of this department.

• Department of Treasury - Alexander Hamilton pretty much did this entire job himself when this was developed.  I’m sure we can scale this back 95%.

• Department of Veteran Affairs - I think we’ve all seen how well this department hasn’t been running.  So, we should let the Department of Defense envelope this entirely.  Maybe if the DOD has to worry about budgeting for our veterans, they’ll think twice about squandering resources on expensive toys that rot away in a desert somewhere as well as think twice before sending troops off to active combat.

Other random independent agencies and organizations:

Election Assistance Commission
Federal Election Commission
Administrative Conference of the United States
National Archives and Records Administration
Office of the Federal Register
Merit Systems Protection Board
Office of Government Ethics
Office of Personnel Management
Federal Executive Institute
Combined Federal Campaign
Office of Special Counsel
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Housing Finance Agency
Federal Housing Finance Board
Tennessee Valley Authority
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
United States International Trade Commission
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Helen Keller National Center
Institute of Museum and Library Services
International Broadcasting Bureau
National Constitution Center
National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Humanities
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Science Foundation
United States Antarctic Program
United States Arctic Program
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of the Federal Coordinator, Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects
African Development Foundation
Export-Import Bank of the United States
Inter-American Foundation
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
United States Agency for International Development
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
Environmental Protection Agency
Federal Labor Relations Authority
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
National Labor Relations Board
National Mediation Board
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Office of Compliance
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Farm Credit Administration
Federal Reserve System
United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
National Credit Union Administration
Central Liquidity Facility
Securities and Exchange Commission
Securities Investor Protection Corporation
Small Business Administration
Military Postal Service Agency
Postal Regulatory Commission
United States Postal Service
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Railroad Retirement Board
Social Security Administration
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
General Services Administration
National Capital Planning Commission
Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
Federal Maritime Commission
National Transportation Safety Board
Corporation for National and Community Service
Peace Corps
Central Intelligence Agency
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
Selective Service System
Commission on Civil Rights
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
National Council on Disability
Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation
Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac)
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac)
Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae)
Federal Home Loan Banks
Farm Credit System

The majority of these can be tossed out and the rest can be enveloped within other departments.  Yes, including big ones like the Social Security Administration.  It may need to be grandfathered out, but it has to go.

We’ve already seen that very little actually happens during a government shutdown.  Do this and I promise our astronomical debt will disappear. 

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber

According to Graeber’s bureaucratic procedures “are invariably ways of managing social situations that are already stupid because they are founded on structural violence.”
But what Graeber means by structural violence is a system “that ultimately rests on the threat of force,” whether police officers, drill sergeants, tax auditors, or all the other agents who support a system that spies, cajoles and threatens.
This complex of definitions lands Graeber squarely in the anarchist tradition, and though he layers contemporary anthropological theory into his analysis, he serves up a clear and generally jargon-free argument.

Download link:


11 Ways You Know You Live In A Country Run By Idiots

1. If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for being in the country illegally, you live in a country run by idiots.

2. If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion, you live in a country run by idiots.

3. If you have to show identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor or check out a library book, but not to vote on who runs the government, you live in a country run by idiots.

4. If the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than ten rounds, but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy leaders in Egypt, you live in a country run by idiots.

5. If, in the largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not a 24-ounce soda because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat, you live in a country run by idiots.

6. If an 80-year-old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA but a woman in a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched, you live in a country run by idiots.

7. If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more, you live in a country run by idiots.

8. If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of grade school for saying his teacher’s “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable,you live in a country run by idiots.

9. If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government intrusion, while not working is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, subsidized housing and free cell phones, you live in a country run by idiots.

10. If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to incentivize NOT working, with 99 weeks of unemployment checks and no requirement to prove they applied but can’t find work, you live in a country run by idiots.

11. If being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government, you live in a country run by idiots.

I meet few executives around the world who are champions of bureaucracy, but neither do I meet many who are actively pursuing an alternative. For too long we’ve been fiddling at the margins. We’ve flattened corporate hierarchies, but haven’t eliminated them. We’ve eulogized empowerment, but haven’t distributed executive authority. We’ve encouraged employees to speak up, but haven’t allowed them to set strategy. We’ve been advocates for innovation, but haven’t systematically dismantled the barriers that keep it marginalized. We’ve talked (endlessly) about the need for change, but haven’t taught employees how to be internal activists. We’ve denounced bureaucracy, but haven’t dethroned it; and now we must.


Gary Hamel, Bureaucracy Must Die

The rituals that keep us docile

Gillian Tett

Why is so much of modern life dominated by endless bureaucracy and frustrating administrative tasks?

Eight years ago David Graeber, an American anthropologist, put his elderly mother into a nursing home, after she’d had a stroke. He was then confronted not just with the horrors of her sickness but with a sea of bureaucracy. Whenever he tried to get seemingly simple things done, such as close his mother’s bank account or apply for Medicare, he encountered endless administration — followed by even more paperwork, because he kept filling the forms out wrong.

“Having spent much of my life leading a fairly bohemian student existence . . . I found myself asking my friends: is this what ordinary life for most people is like? Running around feeling like an idiot each day?” he recalls in a new book, The Utopia of Rules. “On a purely personal level, probably the most disturbing thing was how dealing with these forms somehow rendered me stupid.”

Many FT readers might sympathise. Graeber investigated further. Four years ago he penned a brilliant treatise on debt, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. His new book develops this analysis and asks why so much of modern life is dominated by endless bureaucracy and frustrating administrative tasks, whether in relation to finance, healthcare or almost everything else.

It is a curious question. At first glance, you might suppose that the mass of modern bureaucratic processes simply reflects the fact that we live in a complex world. As organisations swell in scale, they need bureaucracies to manage them. Similarly, as technology becomes more sophisticated, the job of government becomes more complex. Or so we tend to assume.

But the more you reflect on this assumption, the odder it begins to seem, given that we live in a cyber, free-market age. After all, Silicon Valley loves to celebrate the idea that the internet can make us more effective and efficient.

Yet, as Graeber points out, modern technology has not removed the bureaucratic processes, just shifted them online. “The invention of new forms of industrial automation in the 18th and 19th centuries had the paradoxical effect of turning more of the world’s population into full-time industrial workers,” he observes. “So has all the software designed to save us from administrative responsibilities in recent decades ultimately turned us all into part- or full-time administrators.”

He blames the issue of spreading bureaucracy on something else: power. A century ago Max Weber, the sociologist, pointed out that bureaucracies always tend to defend their own interests as institutions. Graeber thinks the issue now is not just about the triumph of bureaucratic institutions per se but the bureaucratisation of our entire culture.

For the 21st-century world has now developed an extensive web of subtle rituals and cultural patterns around bureaucracy that make these processes seem normal — if not inevitable. And the crucial point to grasp is that this pattern supports the status quo and the position of the elite. The counterpart of rising income inequality is the spread of those bureaucratic forms.

And what makes the pattern doubly insidious — and ironic — is that reforms that are supposed to promote free-market ideals often end up creating more bureaucratic processes. Take, for example, the post-2008 banking reforms or developments in Britain’s National Health Service.

Americans do not like to think of themselves as a nation of bureaucrats — quite the opposite actually,” Graeber observes. “[But] the final victory over the Soviet Union did not really lead to the domination of the ‘market’ [but] simply cemented the dominance of fundamentally conservative managerial elites . . . no population in the history of the world has spent nearly so much time engaged in paperwork.”

Some FT readers might chafe at these anti-elite attacks. When Graeber is not teaching anthropology, he works as an activist and was a leading light in the Occupy Wall Street protest movement. And his book argues that the best response to the perils of bureaucratisation and income inequality is more Occupy-style protest; he wants radical income redistribution.

But even if you disagree with his politics, Graeber’s book should offer a challenge to us all. Should we just accept this bureaucracy as inevitable? Or is there a way to get rid of all those hours spent listening to bad call-centre music? Do policemen, academics, teachers and doctors really need to spend half their time filling in forms? Or can we imagine another world?

There are no easy answers. But the next time you see a bureaucratic form — and I have several sitting in my inbox right now — it is worth asking who really benefits from it? And, more importantly, who would suffer if we were to all suddenly rip them up? It is, perhaps, one of the more subtly revolutionary ideas of our age.


There’s always rules [in life], but usually they’re not spelled out; everyone has a slightly different idea of what they are, there’s all these ambiguities, it’s sort of complicated and then people break them all the time anyway. Life is this endless game of trying to figure out what the rules are and nobody quite understands. Then, [with bureaucracy], you create this imaginary situation, totally bounded in time and space, where everybody knows exactly what the rules are, people actually do follow the rules, and even people who follow the rules can win — which is very unusual in real life.

David Graeber interviewed by Elias Isquith in Salon. “I found myself turning into an idiot!”: David Graeber explains the life-sapping reality of bureaucratic life
The activist-academic and Occupy Wall Street champion tells Salon about his new book on the bureaucratic state

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy

Ikea boss bemoans German bureaucracy

Ikea is becoming increasingly frustrated at complicated German bureaucracy and public protest, which has slowed expansion plans, company head Mikael Ohlsson said on Friday.

The firm was ready to build new stores, but he said applications to build new branches, particularly in residential areas, were often hindered or scrapped all together due to protests from locals and politicians concerned about their area’s small businesses.

“If you take Germany, then we would have liked a further store in Stuttgart, but the discussion has already lasted years and years. And Lübeck took ages,” he said.

Ohlsson said he was disappointed by how slowly the company was expanding in Germany, which is Ikea’s biggest single market, accounting for 15 percent of its global business. There are already nearly 50 branches in the country.

“We want to be nearer to our customers and we’re ready to start building new stores,” Ohlsson said. “The government can stimulate investment in the company by speeding up the bureaucracy process.”

Despite Ohlsson’s complaints, the company announced record profits of €2.97 billion in the last financial year. This is 10.3 percent more than the previous year

This has not discouraged the Swedish furniture giant, however, as Ohlsson announced the company is aiming global, hoping to open up branches in more than its current count of 30 countries. (via The Local)

Your turn, Facebook

My boss had me rewrite a medical monitoring questionnaire for people who work with animals in the Wellesley College Science Center.  It had to be updated to comply with more specific needs, including allergy limitations and vaccination history.  I noticed another outdated mistake, long overdue in fixing, and decided to tweak that as well.