AnomalyUK was so kind as to write a response to my last post. I was commenting on his post at his blog, but it got too long, so I’d better post it over here.
He talks about the problem about organizations having a nominal and a real agenda is basically what it’s called the agency problem. Which it is. The problem is that for any organization to be efficient, by definition, it needs to have goal orientation. And the goal must be shared by all. And that is pretty much impossible, as individuals tend to have their own individual goal. That’s biology. The old way of solving that problem is by absolutism: only one man gets power, so his goal prevails, and he has power to enforce that the people working for him actually do his work.
Of course absolutism solves the agency problem, as there is no agent, or the agents get no power. Absolutism, also makes administration way more efficient, the market shows that, corporations work when a man has absolute power, and he has drive. Absolutism has two problems, one is that not all monarchs are driven by any purpose, preferring hedonistic idleness. That historically has set their countries into chaos as other people driven to power fight between themselves to occupy the power vacuum that the idle king created by preferring poetry to politics. Eunuchs against military, you know the story.
Then there’s the problem that absolutism is so efficient that it cuts both ways: a king with a noble purpose creates heaven on earth, but a vicious king driven to create misery can create a very whole lot of it. It’s this risk that made absolutism demodé in intellectual circles since the 18th century. What if the king is retarded? We remove him? If he can be removed that his not really a king, is he?
But of course this is all idle talk. I’m no Marxist but the political arrangements of a society depend very much on the technology available for power driven people. And today absolutism is untenable; it’s way too easy to get someone out of power. Anomaly’s idea is trying to get away with organizations, solving problems with ad-hoc mechanisms as far as possible. That’s a quasi-libertarian point. And the basic answer to libertarianism is that things simply don’t work like that.
The fact is that government today is capable, by various means combining violence and suggestion, of capturing up to 50-60% of a country’s income. And the basic law of nepotism will make that money trickle down from the government making it expand until every single penny is spent in giving somebody’s niece’s job. Bureaucratic agencies and QUANGOs all being just excuses for that nepotism. An absolute ruler with 60% of the country’s income in his hand will be no less likely to make it trickle down to his family and friends. Happens in Africa all the time. Kings can be social too.
Of course Africans employed by the government don’t try to justify their position by “doing good” or trying to make themselves useful. They just spend it in whatever they please. Which would be an improvement over the QUANGO mushrooming we live with today. But not by much.
We need less parasites living off productive people. I fail to see how concentrating power would help.