Q for Cats

This is a question posited by Pyrmonter in one of TAFKAS’ posts:

For discussion.

Which of the following is the greater problem:

– the staffer/lobbyist industrial complex (young, callow, conceited, overwhelmingly male and possessed of the prejudices that come from being near power without responsibility; obsessed with short run, superficial assessments of outcome, very short time-horizons, and rarely the sort of people from whom you’d want to buy a used motor vehicle)

– the MPs and ministers themselves, mostly the ‘cream’ of that first group, who are given power but fail to exercise it much

– the senior public servants – often brighter, rarely sympathetic to right-of-centre politics, but those most able to play the games that allow advance within the public sector.

Apart from disagreeing on the point around MPs and Ministers being the ‘cream’ the staffer/lobbyist crops – they aren’t the cream, they are the crap that floats on the surface – TAFKAS’ view is that these are but the symptom and not the disease.

TAFKAS would point to a number of things including the dilution of “talent” resulting from the huge growth of government, the “professionalisation” of politics and the very point made in the Burke posts, that very very few, if any at all, have any experience in the world of private sector – and that does not mean the corporate affairs team of a large corporate.

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42 Responses to Q for Cats

  1. Dusty

    The first and third need the 2nd to exert power to their whims, but the 2nd needs your vote to put the boot on you.

  2. Ozman

    they aren’t the cream, they are the crap that floats on the surface

    Says it all.

  3. Anonandon

    I worked in the public sector for several years. I was surprised how economically naive people were generally. They had a view that the “market” could bear anything. Not their fault really but the whole system would be better if it was not so populated with career bureaucrats. And was a lot smaller – the growth in the public sector budgets and workforce in the last 20 yrs has been phenomenal.

  4. Iampeter

    Which of the following is the greater problem:

    None of the above.
    The problem is political illiteracy. There is no understanding of political theory and no idea what a government should do and why.

    For example, on a “centre-right” blog we have posts accusing Micrsoft of “trying to destroy Netscape through predatory conduct,” and similar Bernie-Bro-level stuff, while thinking they are opposing the left, or something.

    So I wouldn’t be worrying about any of those points Pyrmonter raised.
    There are far more basic and fundamental details that need working out.

  5. stackja

    The “best” uneducated people of today, deciding they know all.
    In the past, Gough didn’t listen to good advice. Nowadays who gives “good advice”? Who listens?

  6. Terry

    ‘these are but the symptom’…indeed.
    ‘and not the disease.’…which is profligate government.
    The treatment/cure is a hard, fast, and massive cut to the size, scope, and malignancy of “our” bureaucratic-industrial complex.

    We can no longer afford the fiscal indulgence anyway, so do it now and unleash the happy by-product of greater freedom for Australians (gradually stolen for decades) and the associated increase to wealth and prosperity it will bestow to the economy (currently on life-support).

    Not doing so should be viewed as an act of treason – because it is.

  7. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    overwhelmingly male

    I’ve had to deal directly with those in the first group (for about six years when I lived in Canberra) and around 60% of them are female, future Karens.

    What is an incredibly obvious character trait that emerges from dealing with them is that they invariably possess zero real world life experience and I’m not just referring to never having worked in private enterprise. They are also invariably white (regardless of party affiliation) and born of the inner city technocratic/ managerial/ professional/ quackademic upper middle class.

    They possess zero curiosity about how our society and economy actually operates and regard “the little people” as a recalcitrant annoyance to be nudged around according to hypotheses that simply cannot be applied in reality. To turn Reagan’s maxim on its head – they believe that big stupid government is not in any way a problem, but is the only possible solution to any real or perceived problem.

    “Working” in that neo-brutalist monstrosity in Canberra is simply a “return to the glorious bountiful bosom of the Mother Ship” experience for them. They are an absolute scourge.

  8. Weeny

    I asked somebody in the public service how they got rid of the no hopers, being as they can’t sack them. The reply was we promote them to get rid if them.

  9. Greg

    Worse, federally the pool for the public service is from generations of public servants born and bread in Canberra.

  10. duncanm

    I’d vote none of those.

    Generally politicians are rotated through so quickly they rarely have time to do too much damage. There are exceptions of course (paging Dan).

    Missing is a very powerful category – activist judges.

    I think the most damaging are the evangelical (of any persuasion. Mostly green, socialist, left) , in any position, but high up in the PS or court system they can inflict the most carnage on society.

  11. Nick Chalmers

    ‘Life is like a good stew… the scum rises to the top.” Quote on life from an old railway sleeper cutter a few decades ago.

  12. nb

    Anonandon: ‘economically naive’
    Iampeter: ‘no idea what a government should do and why.’
    Stackja: ‘who gives “good advice”?’
    Terry: ‘cure is a hard, fast, and massive cut’
    Spureon: ‘zero curiosity about how our society and economy actually operates’
    All true. Government is fighting a rear-guard action against its irrelevance. Prosperity brings independence from government. Our first duty is to remain prosperous and independent.

  13. Nick Chalmers

    “When I joined the Labor Party it contained the cream of the working class. As I look about me now all I see are the dregs of the middle class. When will you middle-class perverts stop using the Labor Party as a cultural spittoon?”
    Kim Beasley snr 1970

  14. Archivist

    Groups 2 and 3 have far less power and influence than most people on this website think they do.

    Despite appearances, they don’t operate as a coordinated movement with a common purpose. Senior bureaucrats and politicians are all just individuals, trying to survive in a cut-throat environment. Alliances are out in the open and registered as political parties.

  15. Archivist

    Let me amend that. Obviously politicans and bureaucrats have immense “power and influence”, in the sense that they run the bureaucracy and the nation’s finances. However, they have more limited “power and influence” (and limited motivation) than many realise to implement or promote hidden agendas or vested interests.

    That’s what lobbyists and industral cabals do exceptionally well. Therefore group 1.

  16. Roger

    the MPs and ministers themselves, mostly the ‘cream’ of that first group, who are given power but fail to exercise it much

    What an odd comment to make given that politicians exercising their power have just set the country back by decades.

    The problem is that they exercise power without purpose, other than getting reelected, that is.

  17. Add to all this the sheer incompetence of the public servants, most recently revealed in Gordon Samuels report on the administration of some aspect of environmental policy. This in turn can be traced to the severe decline in university standards and affirmative action emoloyment practices. It is too depressing to elaborate.

    The removal of Canberra based public servants also plays a part in propagating the disease. If a non-Labor/Greens government gets a Senate majority, it should attack this issue, to the extent even of radically altering the way the Territory government works.

  18. Watch Your Back

    I don’t think the staffers are overwhelmingly Male at all. Women are taking over the public sector and getting the bulk of the top jobs. They then appoint other women as their staff. You can see this in government departments, local government, schools and universities.

  19. Sorry, I meant ‘removal… from the concerns of other Australians’.

  20. John NOBEL

    “Crap that floats“, at best good for nothing courtiers bemoaning the lack of fresh bread means having to eat cake!

  21. Meanwhile, the business of the socialist Victorian government continues unabated – the department of Premier and Cabinet has issued a tender seeking to appoint a panel of providers to help implement the Gender Equality Act 2020 (Vic). There I was thinking that they had other things to do, but I was wrong.

  22. Pyrmonter

    @ Roger

    Who is actually running things? I’m not sure. I doubt it’s the Brad Hazzards and Jenny Mikakoses – I’m not convinced they could formulate, still less execute a plan.

    @ Iamp

    https://www.cato-unbound.org/2006/11/05/bryan-caplan/myth-rational-voter

  23. Rex Anger

    None of the above.
    The problem is political illiteracy. There is no understanding of political theory and no idea what a government should do and why.

    Lolwut, IamCognitiveDissonance? We know what goverment is meant to do (It is not what you think it is meant to do), and we very frequently grumble about what we know it does.

    After all, government already protects rights (Defined by your beloved leftists to mean ‘an entitlement to special treatment and the services provided by government.’). It does so very aggressively. Using our taxes.

    For example, on a “centre-right” blog we have posts accusing Micrsoft of “trying to destroy Netscape through predatory conduct,” and similar Bernie-Bro-level stuff, while thinking they are opposing the left, or something.

    Defending cronyism, monopolistic and anti-competitive conduct while decrying protest against it as ‘leftism,’ ,IamInLoveWithMyGoogleShilling, is not the behaviour of an ardent capitalist and individualist. No merchant alive wants to be swallowed up by the deceptions and trickety of a bigger play ‘Cos the market’s gotta be free, man…’

    So I wouldn’t be worrying about any of those points Pyrmonter raised.
    There are far more basic and fundamental details that need working out.

    Anything IAMTHESENATE! ( 😉 to everyone who gets the reference) declares to be unimportant, is. Anything Iam…OhLook!ASquirrel! claims to be basic and fundamental, isn’t.

    IamTheBraveNewWorldofHuxley’sNightmares declares “Take your Soma, you silly little Gammas. The Alphas have everything under control. You needn’t worry about anything. Sing with me now:

    ” Streptocock Gee to Banbury T,

    The fat’s in the liver, the cod’s in the sea…”

  24. Rex Anger

    I am repeating this post from Burke on the French Revolution as it is equally pertinent here:

    Very difficult, Pyrmonter.

    All 3 are inextricably intertwined. Trying to isolate any one of them for detailed analysis and correction is like trying to dig out an individual pulmonary embolism near person’s aorta while it is still working- No matter how you approach it, you will slice the entire shebang open and the patient will bleed out before your eyes.

    Emboli are treated with blood thinners first, to shrink the clot and reduce the risk of complete occlusion (or worse, the little bastard getting loose and blocking more critical vessels, e.g. in the brain!). Then surgical excision/ablation/cauterisation/sleeving may be considered.

    In the same say, the political/executive rot can only be overcome by either a long countermarch through the institutions the Left has subverted, and/or dissolving said institutions and starting afresh. With a very, very jaundiced eye to ideological/values vetting and policing.

    Perhaps this is something more easily and obviouslyachieved in the private sector in the shorter term Vigorously conservative, product- and customer-focussed companies will outperform SJW-converged big players over time. Why? Converged corps are only pushing SJW interests, not making money. Money runs out- (Poof!).

    You don’t want Communists, you have to both watch and bait for them. Like ants. Nobody wants ants…

  25. Roger

    Who is actually running things? I’m not sure. I doubt it’s the Brad Hazzards and Jenny Mikakoses – I’m not convinced they could formulate, still less execute a plan.

    Hazzard authorised an Eid gathering of 400.

    Mikakos authorised Labor mates in the security game to oversee hotel quarantine.

    In both instances they were thinking of their political futures rather than their duties to electors.

    Their plan is elegantly simple – do whatever it takes to get re-elected.

  26. Roger

    Who is actually running things?

    The public service.

  27. Des Deskperson

    ‘This in turn can be traced to the severe decline in university standards and affirmative action emoloyment practices. It is too depressing to elaborate.’

    Apart from Indigenous recruitment, there are no affirmative action policies or programmes for recruitment of advancement in the APS. There are, of course, very many anecdotal stories of women gaming the system to get their mate-esses promoted. Whether this has done any more damages to the professionalism of the APS than the many similar anecdotal stories of blokes doing the same for their mates form the rugby club is a moot point.

    In reality, the quality and ability of APS employees varies considerably for agency to agency, the result of a variety of cultural and historical factors. It has always done so.

    On the broader question, the relationship between bureaucrats and politicians, at least at the federal level, has fundamentally shifted in the last few decades, beginning with Whitlam but cemented in by Howard. I have been banging on about this for while. The power of APS bureaucrats as held in conventional wisdom is now considerably over-rated.

  28. Rex Anger

    @ Des-

    They have tried very, very hard with the ADF, but the physical standards and demands once you reach the Battalions/Regiments still seem to be weeding out all but the most dedicated.

    Despite every effort to water everything down.

    Having a hard core of mid-level Staff Officers with direct combat experience should, within the next 10-15 years, push a lot of the institutonal pantywaisting out of the Services, and segt a more practical direction fof the next 20-40 after that.

    Remember, the SJWs in uniform now in charge would have started as LTs in 1990 or so, prior to Timor and the subsequent 20+ years of rolling ops. They would have been mentored by peacetime officers from the 80s, under the years of the ‘Peace Dividend,’ Dibb report and Labor’s strategic withering.

  29. Pyrmonter

    @ Roger

    We’ll see, but the Eid event looks to have been one of the more disciplined exercises in worship undertaken in Sydney in the past few months – masks, own mats, temperature checks etc. Hazzard has been in parliament since the 1990s and is in his late 60s – I can’t imagine he’s got much longer in the ministry, Covid or not.

  30. Shy Ted

    The PS has spent decades recruiting and promoting the diverse. They are outsiders who then recruit further from their own diverse background because the new outsiders views best correspond with the old diverse picks views who think they were recruited on merit but weren’t and form a PS clique where only the accidental outsiders ever risk eviction from the inner circle (made up of outsiders) and in no way represent or understand the views of genuine outsiders, the likes of you and I.
    And that’s how they talk in PS circles.

  31. Watch Your Back

    I’m not sure Des. Blokes giving jobs to mates may have been unfair but it was just the way of things.
    Feminism is an ideology, aimed at tearing down the Patriarchy, and promoting the interests of the sisterhood over men. For a good proportion of feminists and their supporters this is a deliberate strategy. They don’t want equal opportunity, they want dominance.

    As for positive action, what would you say all the Diversity and Inclusion is about? It simply continues where quotas and preferment left off.

    And why are men going to university in ever dwindling numbers?

  32. Justinian the Great

    Malcolm Turnbull had a lot of private sector experience. That worked out well!

    Regardless of background they are untied by a sense of personal advancement above national interest.

    Very few politicians are interested in policy, are intellectually curious or stand up for a principle.

    I would value those skills above business skills. However, the general point of nepotism and recruiting from a shallow pool of insiders lacking in general life experience is spot on.

    This especially applies to the Coalition side. Labor have more commitment and courage as a general rule.

    I don’t like their marxist agenda but they don’t exactly hide it and ruthlessly pursue it.

    What agenda does the Liberal Party in government pursue? The answer is a softer version of Labor’s.

  33. Rex Anger

    For example, on a “centre-right” blog we have posts accusing Micrsoft of “trying to destroy Netscape through predatory conduct,” and similar Bernie-Bro-level stuff, while thinking they are opposing the left, or something.

    Petey, why did you post a link to entire thread where you got things howlingly and hilariously wrong, had both the theoretical AND practical stuffing kicked out of you and ended with you screaming at TAFKAS before retreating to sulk with the laughter of multiple Cats ringing in your ears?

    Is that really the sort of evidence you want to cite in order to attack the rest of us for being unRight?

    Cos I, for one, am more than happy to.laugh at your stupidity again…

  34. Lorikeet3

    And then you get the dumb Nats in Victoria who want to be more green and left-wing than Dan Andrews:

    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/emissions-targets-not-ambitious-enough-nationals-steph-ryan-20200228-p545ft.html

    Black Jack would not be impressed by Steph Ryan.

  35. NoFixedAddress

    Which of the following is the greater problem:

    Sorry Pyrmonter and TAFKAS but I think this is irrelevant to the fundamental notion of whether we as a society should be forced to pay taxes that are used, to all intents and purposes, in a manner that is not much different to pissing it against the wall.

    Our societal governance is set up, or has devolved, to reward the mendacious, spivs and charlatans all, from local “government” to state “government” to the so called “federal government”, which used to be the Australian Commonwealth Government.

    It is pitiful to look at the sheer waste of ‘Human Capital’ tied up in “serving” the “laws” of The Great Whore of Babylon. And for what? The “citizens”! What about The People?

    The waste involved in collecting taxes is just mind boggling and unjustifiable.

  36. Archivist

    @Des

    The power of APS bureaucrats as held in conventional wisdom is now considerably over-rated.

    Yes, that was my point too.

    They are not the nefarious all-powerful cabal imagined by some. As much as there can be something that can be identified as “The Problem”, they’re not it. Keep looking.

  37. H B Bear

    Ask yourself,” Would I go into politics?” Almost by definition, anybody in politics is somebody you don’t want there.

  38. Squirrel

    Let’s not forget the mainstream media (not just the pervasive Leftism and the superficiality of the 24 hour news cycle and Tweet-length soundbites) which spends so much time telling people that they can have their cake and eat it too.

    Whether it’s the climate obsessives at the ABC telling SUV-driving, aircraft-hopping (when not under house arrest) suburbanites that they can go “green”, close down our productive industries and still hang on to their material affluence, or the commercial media telling the “battlers” (real and imagined) that they deserve ever-increasing government benefits and services as well as tax cuts, they have a lot to answer for.

  39. Iampeter

    https://www.cato-unbound.org/2006/11/05/bryan-caplan/myth-rational-voter

    I’m not really sure what that link is meant to address.
    I’ll just say that politics is something that needs to be figured out before worrying about the rationality of voters and it also isn’t going to be figured out by economics, or something.

    @Rex – as usual everything you post is as backwards as possible. You are the perfect example of the politically illiterate leftist that dominates today’s farcical conservative movement. But your inability to even think straight and string two thoughts together without contradicting yourself is the real show stopping problem. There’s nowhere to even start with you.

  40. Rex Anger

    @Rex – as usual everything you post is as backwards as possible. You are the perfect example of the politically illiterate leftist that dominates today’s farcical conservative movement. But your inability to even think straight and string two thoughts together without contradicting yourself is the real show stopping problem. There’s nowhere to even start with you.

    But you did reply, IamSeethingWithRageCosThatInferiorBeingHasCalledMeOutAgain. That’s a start…

    And the finish is that your typical, screechy response of No, U! indicates you had, and still have, nothing.

    Nothing new to add.

    Nothing new to clarify.

    Nothing to challenge or broaden any Cat’s understanding of whatever you think is more important.

    You’ve been here for years, and all you have managed to demonstrate in that time is that like your beloved Mistress Rand, you are a lifeless, rudderless empty shell. With even less understanding of politics, economics, philosophy and any -ology you care to name than even the humblest Cat on this blog.

    What would John Galt do in this situation, Petey? Confronted yet again with the fact that atheistic hedonism satisfies for now, but gives nothing at all for life? Did he too scream “No, U!” before running away to try the same stupidity again elsewhere? Only to receive the same result?

    (By the way, still laughing. Another IamPeter beclownment. Another IamPeter clown rage. Glorious. Do let me know when you’re willing to match dialectic with dialectic, because your rhetoric game is weak, troll. Best you go away and sulk now. Your ego might not withstand another battering today…)

  41. Iampeter

    But you did reply, IamSeethingWithRageCosThatInferiorBeingHasCalledMeOutAgain. That’s a start…

    It’s not a start, it’s a finish. Especially since you’ve once again responded with a “no u” while accusing me of doing it. So even if you had a clue and could think straight discussion is still impossible.

    You’re just triggered by the fact that you are exposed as a very confused leftist, so all you can do is follow me from thread to thread, babbling confused nonsense, raging at me and projecting your own behaviour.

    It’s pretty funny.

  42. Rex Anger

    Especially since you’ve once again responded with a “no u” while accusing me of doing

    Performing a No, U! by accusing me of projecting at you is still a No, U! Petey. It is still unimaginative and still boring. But credit to you for actually replying. I was getting bored with your tip-and-run antics, little trolly-kins.

    You’re just triggered by the fact that you are exposed as a very confused leftist

    Given this is the only insult you know, IamAnIntellectualPygmy, this Anger can only assume that Randism is as bad for one’s cognitive faculties as snorting lead paint. What would John Galt do here, Petey? Develop a better insult? Or keep huffing the turpentine fumes in the hope Mistress Rand will reach out to you beyond the grave and point out the appropriate passage of Atlas Shrugged?

    …all you can do is follow me from thread to thread, babbling confused nonsense, raging at me and projecting your own behaviour.

    Who said I was raging at you, darling? I called you an empty vessel. That’s not rage or confusio . It’s a statement of fact. In fact, every other Cat would be far harsher. And you know it, baby. 🙂

    Most Cats also recognise, as I do IamAnEconomicIlliterateWithABadAttitudeAndNoSenseOfSelfPreservation, when you are trying to do a Petey projection. I didn’t initiate this inanity. I merely pointed out how foolish it is to link back to one of your own attack posts, where the average reader can clearly see that you not only got things woefully, hilariously wrong, but got called out and beaten up for your trouble, screamed in pain and rage at everyone in the process, then flounced off. You do flounce very well, IamEasilyUpset. Would you like to flounce again? It’s no problem, baby…

    Despite your efforts, I am still laughing at you, IamAPhilosophicalTurnip. Still trying to get the last snark and barb in. And still failing miserably. Still glorious. And your rhetoric game is still sorely lacking.

    Now go away and sulk.

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