Friday, 16 May 2008

Who guards the guardians?

Who guards the guardians? That must be a question being asked around the traps today.  As the latest revelations of corruption in the Immigration Service emerge, to be added to earlier revelations of excess, duplicity and abuse of power across the civil service, the Cabinet and the council building inspectorates, the question should be being asked with ever-increasing volume.

Who guards against the abuses of these perfect bastards?  What checks are there on the all-powerful bureaucrats who infest the offices of Wellington?  Why do so many assume that that private businesses tend towards corruption and fraud and dishonesty, needing the guardians of bureaucracy to oversee their activities, whereas these pricks wear the wings of angels?

Where did this myth arise?

Why assume the guardians of bureaucracy are the final word in honesty and efficacy?  Why assume they're immune to corruption?

There's been erected a vast conglomeration of bureaucrats to run our lives -- people who can't even run their own life.  We've put people's lives in their hands.  But who guards against the excesses of the bureaucrats? 

It's increasingly clear that nobody does.

1 comment:

  1. The answer to corruption in public service is addressed in your following column on political correctness. Without the sting of competition and financial survival a public service is left to it's own devices to both entrench it's position and follow the PC fads of the day.

    Even Treasury Boss Don Brash wasn't immune to it because he was proud of his diversity policies that brought in so many minority people per year.

    Eventually someone will figure out that Mary-Ann Thompson was very employable because she was a woman in a traditional male discipline (for the 80s) and too much scrutiny of her background would have been bad form.

    Another factor is the change from the various depts. being responsible to the SSC to being responsible directly to the Minister. Straightaway, the tone of the dept is set by the character of the Minister.. that means the personal qualities of the Minister become very important.
    Now, I can think of lots of ministers I didn't like before the 1980s, but I would struggle to think of any who did not well represent personal integrity.

    Question is, were they then honest in themselves, or because the SSC made it impossible for them to fuck up the dept. for which they were responsible?



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