TED Conversations

David Hamilton


This conversation is closed.

I don't believe government is an efficient tool for solving problems. I want my representatives to believe it can be, then prove it.

I think most politicians, worldwide, across parties and systems of government, are so caught up in the sport of it all... That in essence, they forget their primary responsibility, to efficiently manage, and use the resources of government.

People on both sides of issues in any country, will often talk about how their side wants to solve problems but the other side gets in the way... but I'm actually not talking about problems, or issues, I'm talking about governance, as management of the bureaucracy. People aren’t just elected to shrink or expand government, or sign policy, they are also elected as managers, or appointers of management, and most of them do a terrible job.

Having spent over a decade in the part time employ of the federal government, I can tell you, who you elect, makes a difference on the ground… Sometimes. People who truly believe that government can be used to efficiently solve problems, take the management part of their job seriously. People who do not believe in governments ability to solve problems, do not take this responsibility seriously.

I worked under appointees, that were across the spectrum, from ultra right, to ultra left. In general, the difference is simple, one group wants you to buy stuff, one wants you to hire people, they’re both stupid.
There is one group of people, however, on both sides of the spectrum, that the bureaucracy must constantly fear. People who believe government cannot do good. Why? Is it just fear of firings or layoffs? NO! The exact opposite.

People who do not believe that government can solve problems, appoint their friends to high paying government positions. They give huge government contracts to incompetent agencies intentionally, and they never fire anyone… Why? They believe, that‘s what everyone is doing.

Keynesians, on the left, meanwhile, are just as bad, because they believe it doesn’t matter how you spend, just spend. That doesn't get problems solved.



Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jul 1 2012: David,

    Politicians tend to follow the opinion of majority of electorates to preserve their seats.
    I think we don't need to blame politicians who we select by election.
    Make them follow our opinion by letting them feel our power.
    The only power we have is election.
    Bureaucrates want to secure their jobs and to get promoted by following politician's direction.
    They have no soul. They change their own opinions easily when power shift occurs...
    • thumb
      Jul 2 2012: TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ONE'S IGNORANCE! I love it Jinsub. Our political system isn't flawed only because politician's are evil. It's flawed because not enough people care and do the research needed to make educated decisions!

      3 problems with American politics:
      1) People are ignorant to what is going on and blindly follow one political party or the other
      2) The news media is for entertainment more over than it is to inform our population
      3) Politicians are swayed by this polarization and unless the politicians of the past are less likely to cross party lines!

      We have what I like to call "The great wall of political divide." It's a proverbial wall that stops conversation between each party for what is truly better for the USA.
    • thumb
      Jul 3 2012: Politicians are meant to be creative and intelligent people who lead, and help control majority opinion by making convincing logical arguments. They don't do that anymore.

      We don't select politicians, incompetent, childish, political parties select politicians... We are supposed to.

      Majority opinion, is what it is. Someone needs to change it in order to solve our problems... There are 2 options for this, intelligent people reclaim the 4th estate, and people begin paying for news again. Or a brilliant, creative leader comes along, and actually manages this monstrosity in a way that makes rational sense.

      Bureaucrates have souls. In America they're not even very well paid. The appointees are, but 90% of bureaucrates are just poor people, and ex millitary, who needed a job. You wouldn't want their jobs, it's meaningless, boring, thankless, customer service work. Many of them fight at the ground level to reduce waste, and are furious at the system they have to work within. Policy is what makes bureaucrates the inefficient nightmare you have to deal with when you have a civil issue, and they're just as angry about being unable to help you, as you are about them being unable to help you.

      In the words of Akira Kurosawa, in the brilliant film "Ikiru", "In 14 years I've never taken a vacation... Why, because you're afraid City Hall will be unable to function without you? No, because I'm afraid they'll discover, that they don't really need me there at all."

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.