Thursday, February 28, 2013

From the heart of darkness

As regular readers know, I stopped most political commentary on this blog a while ago because I'd said everything I thought worth saying many times over and it no longer matters. The U.S. is now a one-party (Republicrat) state like the Soviet Union or North Korea: of the government, by the government, for the government.

This kind of borders on politics, though. It's purely anecdotal but interesting.

A man in the investment discussion group I attend fairly regularly announced his retirement after 40 years with a federal government agency. He has mentioned many times in our meetings his concern about the investment world becoming decoupled from the "real" world. What is good for companies and stockholders (including those of us with enough of a stake in the system to make the group worth our time), he said, is no use to people living paycheck-to-paycheck, credit-card-payment-to-credit-card payment.

I guess I'd assumed this was simply the standard liberal line that you adopt when you take Uncle Sam's shilling and sign up for the bureaucrat army. But he surprised me.

After the meeting I chatted with him briefly, the usual "congratulations on making it to the finish line" and "what are you going to do with your new spare time?" kind of banter. The last thing I intended was to bring down the moment by injecting politics into it.

But he opened up the subject. He had, on the whole, enjoyed his time working in the government. His colleagues included many decent people, he said. "But I can completely understand why so many people out there [pointing: any direction you point in Arlington, Virginia is toward "outside the Beltway"] are outraged," he said. "When you're in the federal government, you're in an artificial environment, a womb that keeps you protected and nourished.

"The agency becomes synonymous with the world. At least if you work in Washington as a Fed, the rest of the country becomes out of sight, out of mind. It's not that administrators are callous -- in a one-on-one situation, they'd be sympathetic enough -- but their daily constituency isn't the people outside the Beltway they're supposed to be working for, but the people they're really working for: the higher-level managers and the politicians."

I think he gets it. 


Alex said...

No matter what they affect or perhaps even believe, bureaucrats 'inside the bubble' never work for the people outside it. A self-serving nomenklatura isn't specific to the government of the former USSR.

Rusty Mason said...

Hi, Rick, glad to see that you are still posting, though. We "little people" still care about Truth.