In praise of red tape

At a time when the press failed to check a reactionary Administration,
when the opposition party all too often chose timidity, it was the
lowly and anonymous bureaucrats, clad in rumpled suits, ID badges
dangling from their necks, who, in their own quiet, behind-the-scenes
way, took to the ramparts to defend the integrity of the American
system of government.

That is Christoper Hayes.   I call it The Paradox of Accountability.  Bureaucrats are, in many cases, not very accountable.  That same quality makes them ideally suited to impose accountability on other parts of government, most of all leaders.  The downside is that the Smithsonian expense reimbursement scandal can go on for so long.  Note also there cannot be the same overseer for every part of government; that ovedrseer would itself not be accountable.  (Was it Brecht who, a’la Bryan Caplan, wanted to call an election and institute a new set of people?)  At the same time no part of government is insulated from accountability either; the paycheck must come from somewhere.  Nodes of accountability and unaccountability more often evolve than are chosen, yet we have only a murky sense of what the optimal filters might be…


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