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A Solution To Bureaucratic Stupidity – Gliders & Windmills

After writing my article on Tuesday, I thought I’d take the rest of the week off – kind of a mini-vacation to kick back and relax after a hard few months of writing and relaxing. That’s basically how my days go. I write – I relax. I putter around outside – I relax. I make dinner – I relax. I deal with the dog which isn’t relaxing and have to start all over again.

The dog is psychotic and annoys the relax right out of me. I’m convinced the little bugger secretly supports the New Democratic Party just to aggravate me because I know they don’t do anything for him. It’s Maggie and I that make sure he gets all the entitlements to which he feels entitled.

Anyway, I figured I could use a few days of not thinking or at least not writing what I was thinking and I was pretty sure most of you would benefit from a little break from the ongoing rant that has become my life or at least that part of my life that isn’t Maggie and the kids and kids’ kids.

As most of my regular readers know, I write a lot about stupidity – especially institutional and political stupidity. I chose that field of study not only because stupidity annoys me even more than the dog but because there is just so much of it that I didn’t really have to do much to ferret it out. It’s like crab grass on your lawn. It’s easy to find, easy to identify and virtually impossible to permanently eradicate which meant I would have an ongoing series of topics to write about for the foreseeable future.

I figured with Parliament shut down for the summer, the Senators behaving themselves while the RCMP continued their investigation into Senate naughtiness and the floods in Alberta pretty much under control – there wouldn’t be much to write about and the world wouldn’t miss me for a few days.

I was only half right. There is always something to write about and some of it has worked its way right under my hat to the point where I won’t be able to continue to relax until I vent.

What got me started was a decision by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to force the City of Ottawa to halt construction on a bridge because they had found – get ready for it – a barn swallow’s nest under the bridge. The nest was empty but because barn swallows are an endangered species, the Ministry felt that it was possible a pair of swallows ‘might’ return and use the nest and therefore ordered the halt in construction at a cost of more than a $1 million until nesting season ended.

It turns out that the nest may, in fact, actually be a robin’s nest. Apparently the experts over at the MNR who make these million dollar decisions don’t know a robin’s nest from a hole in the ground. Once that was publicized, the ministry tucked its tail between its legs and after a bit of face-saving posturing, negotiated a restart of construction.

Environmentalists considered the original decision to be a victory in their ongoing attempts to save Mother Earth from the ravages of civilization. They are as stupid as the people in PETA who kill more animals than Humane Societies in order to save them from living lives where they are unloved.

For years, many of these same environmentalists have had their knickers in a twist over the hundreds of birds killed and injured in tailing ponds in the Alberta Oil Sands. They don’t like the oil sands and use the dead birds as further proof of how evil they are. Of course, they don’t say very much about the 40,000 birds slaughtered every year by wind farms in Ontario or the millions killed by wind farms across North America. They like wind farms and if birds like eagles and other raptors get taken out in staggering numbers – that’s an acceptable amount of collateral damage; not to mention hypocrisy.

I wanted to write about the barn swallows and the bridge but the decision to halt construction got reversed, as I mentioned, and I was on vacation so I let it pass. Similarly, I decided not to write about the floods in Alberta. It is a singularly difficult time for the people in much of province and I admire how they have dealt with the disaster.

There’s been a bit of politicking but the people themselves have stood tall. They’ve come together to help each other and it is more than just difficult not to admire them for it. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for some of the dim bulbs in government bureaucracy.

Sun Media’s John Robson has a theory that you can only qualify for government if you are fairly stupid. He bases that on people in government stating that “they didn’t know they shouldn’t do that” every time they got caught doing something they shouldn’t do.

He’s right, of course, but it goes beyond trying to use stupidity as an excuse for unethical behaviour. The simple fact is that bureaucrats are, for the most part, stupid. The stupidity is built into the system and it is – and I fully believe this – a job requirement if you want to work well within that system.

Consider these examples from the past week that pulled me from my idyllic vacation of relaxing and slinging mulch around the yard.

Typically, after an event like this where there have been mass evacuations there will always be a few who try to take advantage of the situation to engage in some looting. It is the role of law enforcement to ensure that doesn’t happen by protecting the property of evacuated residents.

Of course, that becomes problematic when it is actually law enforcement that is doing the looting.

The RCMP took it upon themselves to enter the private residences of the evacuated citizens of High River Alberta to search for firearms and to confiscate those they found. By law, the police are not permitted to enter anyone’s home without either a warrant or probable cause and I doubt that “they were evacuated because of the flood” is sufficient probable cause.

The Alberta Health Service (AHS) were quite concerned that the owner of the Purple Perk Cafe was dispensing free coffee and sandwiches to emergency workers including those members of law enforcement that weren’t looting homes in High River, so they ordered him to cease and desist. That didn’t sit too well with the public so they then ordered him to carry on.

The one consistent thing about bureaucrats is that they never learn from their mistakes so when the Hutterite community and the Salvation Army showed up with sandwiches, the AHS clamped down and blocked distribution of the food on health reasons. Apparently the Hutterites and the Salvation Army are hotbeds of unsafe health practices.

Knowing the fiercely independent , common sense nature of most Albertans, I confess that I’m a bit surprised that they didn’t look at these bureaucratic morons for a moment and then rise up as one and slay them.

I believe it is merely further evidence that Albertans, like most Canadians, are just too decent for their own good sometimes.

David Suzuki couldn’t wait to weigh-in with his opinion on the Alberta flood. He announced almost gleefully that it was further evidence of the ravages of global warming and even attempted to try and tie it to the Alberta oil sands. Dr. Suzuki is one of those fanatics who never let facts get in the way of his religious beliefs and climate change is his religion. Like a tele-evangelist, climate change has been very good to David Suzuki, affording him three homes and an extremely comfortable life-style with a fairly large carbon footprint.

I don’t like hypocrites and I think that we should put David Suzuki in a small glider and have an airplane tow it to a windmill farm where it will be released. If the saintly Dr. Suzuki can successfully navigate the blades of all those windmills without being shredded like so many birds are every day – then we should all commit to joining his cult and following him down the Yellow Brick Road.

If he doesn’t make it through the blades – well – what else can one say except “Oops” followed by “send in the next hypocrite”.

In Quebec, the language police went ballistic over a plastic spoon being handed out with yogurt. The spoons had English embedded in them and as we all know,  a couple of English words on a plastic, throw-away spoon could result in the fall of civilized French culture and society. English has that power. It’s like a sort of mystical “Lord of the Rings” kind of power. I believe its why they were so afraid of the word ‘pasta’ on restaurant menus. They thought that a single, solitary English word could destroy French culture and the Italian dining experience. Of course, it was a false alarm and French was never actually threatened. Pasta is an Italian word so everyone in Quebec took a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief and went back to eating Fettuccine Alfredo.

Plop! There’s another bunch of taxpayer dollars thrown down the black hole of bureaucratic stupidity. I tell you, my friends – it’s a bottomless pit.

In Moncton New Brunswick, the city government has passed a bylaw requiring the wearing of helmets by all skaters at city-owned ice rinks. The new bylaw exempts figure skaters who actually are the only ones who put their heads in serious jeopardy by jumping and twirling and doing death spirals. The bureaucratic rational is that helmets would throw the figure skaters off balance and wouldn’t be aesthetically pleasing which means, I guess, that’s it’s acceptable for other skaters to be thrown off balance and made to look like dorks.

It goes on and on. Where you have bureaucrats you have solutions looking for issues to resolve.

Section 13 of the Human Rights Act was repealed yesterday to repeal the provision against hate speech. It is a significant victory for proponents of free speech. It’s also a direct slap in the face of Human Rights Tribunals that were engaging in some fairly shady practices. Producing and promoting hate speech will still be covered by the criminal code but Human Rights Tribunals will no longer have the authority to deal with it.

This is a good thing as it turns out. Some Human Rights Investigators were actually impersonating members of various hate groups and then posting hate messages on related web sites in an attempt to encourage others to voice hate speech so that they could then be charged under Section 13.

It’s not like we don’t have enough issues with which to deal that bureaucrats need to go out and drum up more business.  But they do. They hold meetings and planning sessions every day to discuss what more interference they can bring to the world around them. It is beyond annoying and we need to figure out how to stop this ongoing stupidity.

I may not have all the answers on how to reduce bureaucratic stupidity but maybe we could start by buying a few more gliders and busing the most stupid bureaucrats out to a wind farm – a really, really big wind farm. We’ll pose the same test for them that I think we should impose on David Suzuki.

If they successfully navigate their glider through all all those spinning blades; we’ll meekly bow our heads and obey the regulations they impose. If they end up like fruit salad after you’ve passed a few apples and bananas through a Veg-A-Matic – well  – it would be a challenge to consider that a failure.

Either way, it would be quite entertaining to watch, especially when they tried to squeeze some of the larger bureaucrats into a tiny little glider.

Bring popcorn.

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  • Wandering Mind

    Think of all this as ‘intellectual poetic licence. Accuracy, fairness and fact need not be allowed to get in the way of piou emotions.

    Most on the right believe they have a better idea. Most on the left believe they are better people, simply because of what they believe.

    The cognitive dissonance is thunderous.

    By the way, the link to the Quebec spoon story isn’t there. I take that personally- I need a spork with my poutine and smoked meat sandwich. Free the sporks!

    • MaggiesBear

      I’ll fix the link. Thanks for pointing it out.

      I think you’re comment about the difference between the left and the right is one of the most succinct I’ve ever read. I wish I had written it.

  • Gerry

    I have looked at the problem of why seemingly normal intelligent people once in and acculturated to a bureaucracy do very stupid things for some time. In fact I went off to do a couple of degrees trying to figure out how to prevent some of it. Didn’t solve it but in a nutshell it comes down to the line of accountability where accountability to the public (they are after all called public servants) is so diffuse as to be meaningless. Ergo, the performance evaluation system institutionalizes that pleasing your immediate supervisor is the only accountability that matters. I know that gives rise to the visual image of people on a ladder with their heads stuck up someone elses orifice above them but that pretty much is the visual for the argument I am making. That necessarily means that personal interests not public drive the bureaucracy and supposedly holding ‘government’ by throwing out one set of public officials periodically at elections and replacing them with others does not solve the problem of the bureaucracy. I don’t think most people realize that politicians really have little control over the bureaucracy and the ones that do never run for election and are never accountable. Until we fix the accountability issue somehow all we can do is hope and pray that there are those in the system that actual believe in public service – there are I was one and have met others but we certainly were not elevated to be in charge of enough of the system to change it.

    btw, really liked chaos comment and your glider and windfarm idea. Dang but that is a fine visual as well.

    • MaggiesBear

      I think you’ve identified a key problem in bureaucratic administration. They call it managing upwards and it starts at the top. The entire structure is designed so that the each person is expected to manage up to protect their boss rather than the boss managing down to organize and protect his or her people.

      Because the bureaucracy is risk averse, the only real accountability is to the bureaucracy. Anything that exposes it to potential criticism is seen as risk that cannot be taken. This leads to ‘shared’ accountability rather than individual responsibility. It becomes a collective mindset that stifles innovation and that rewards mediocrity.

      There are lots of smart, hard-working people in the civil service and I know more than a few of them but they are trapped in a system that refuses to recognize their efforts. It is a system of absurd rules not only for us but for them as well.

      What comes out of it is a mindset that loses track that of the fact that the bureaucracy was intended to serve the people – is in fact, employed by the people. It’s focus on managing upwards and imposing rules and regulations that meet the needs of the bureaucracy rather than the client – you and I. In fact, they often refer to the client internally but the client is always some other group in the public service. The people are almost completely forgotten.

  • JoeFrmEdm

    Very good weekly wrap up…………..

    • MaggiesBear

      Thank you

  • Pingback: A Solution To Bureaucratic Stupidity – Gliders & Windfarms | Grumpy Opinions()

  • chaos111_99

    You missed one, as of July 1 in Ontario they will not be allowed to build bridges on endangered species, but the will be able to build a bird killer.

    http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/lr/@mnr/@about/documents/document/stdprod_105241.pdf

    • MaggiesBear

      I guess that means we will be allowed to build bridges if we rename them bird killers.