Edge of Chaos is a political podcast starring Joe Ryan and Neurotoxin. Its aim is to have a free-flowing discussion of news and current events that also examines the empirical outcomes of public policy, avoiding biases based on ideology and policy intentions. Listener discretion is both advised and encouraged.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Here's MY Heartwrenching Shutdown Story

Had dinner w/ a friend tonight who's an office admin for a public university - State-run so no shutdown, but big research school mostly funded by Federal grants. Notorious for being a stessball over impersonal complications, here are some workplace gripes she confided in me:

- The chief administrator for her department collects a $110,000 salary plus the full benefits and does NOTHING. Literally. He is absent from the office half the time, and spends the other half reading for pleasure. If he is ever questioned on this, which is rare, he claims he is getting ready to retire and is 'training' the #2 administrator - this has been going on for 3 years or so.

- The #2 administrator collects $82,000/year plus full benefits, and picks up most of the chief's slack. Between this, her own work, and chasing around all her subordinate deadbeats, she spends 60+ hours a week in the office, even sleeps there sometimes.

- The other 5 admins in the department collect approximately $40,000/year plus full benefits, and my friend complains that about 50% of their combined work gets shoved on her by the #2 as she is the only one with both a brain and a conscience. Most of the others have some sort of disability and between that and union 'activism'; trying to fire or discipline them is simply not worth the fallout.

- 4 years ago, a number of grant mishaps were discovered where several labs and professors paid for things with money that had not been disbursed. The new faculty chair at the time was furious and waged a war against the chief admin for allowing this to happen. The university execs would not allow him to fire a single person responsible despite an ongoing investigation that uncovered plenty of negligence, although no foul play. Using bureaucratic manipulation of the worst sorts, the chair managed to force the 2 admins responsible into retirement; but the best he could accomplish for the chief admin was to create the #2 position and give her all his authority; while still paying him $110,000/year to do nothing.

- The #2 admin and my friend are now charged with unraveling that disaster that neither of them had anything to do with, and they are constantly hounded by the execs for not doing it fast enough. Currently, they are unable to perform any work on it because the Federal NIH website is inaccessible, and are being told they will have to work through the university's winter holiday if there's enough of a delay. I flat out asked her why she doesn't refuse to do that, considering they can't even fire the guy that caused the problem and he now gets paid 3x what she does for doing 0 work. Her answer - "I care".

THAT is how your Federal tax dollars are spent. THAT is where the grants go. THAT is the level of oversight one pitiful parade of bureaucrats provides another pitiful parade of bureaucrats. The system is so rotten to the core that decent managers literally CANNOT get rid of dead weight employees, and the decent ones get punished for their mistakes.

The next time some MORON cites the stated intentions of Federal government in an attempt to defend it, explain to them that you're just as in favor of feeding the poor and maintaining law and order - you're just not ignorant enough to believe that's what the government is actually doing.

The next time you see a heart-wrenching story about a hard-working Federal employee being furloughed; comment that their hard work does not negate the fact that their employer is a cancer on society and deserves to be cut out.

I'm sick of the hearing and reading the emotion-baiting lunacy. Economics is not about intentions, it's about efficiency in achieving outcomes - and government by its nature is NEVER anything more than an outhouse of waste and negligence. Keep it shut down until the ass hats receiving the money - whether direct Federal agencies, other bureaucracies like this university, or defense contractors - are starved enough to want to run a sustainable operation. Think of it as chemo, poisoning ourselves is the only way to kill this hungry, ever-expanding tumor.


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