Wednesday, 30 January 2013

How does more money make an organization worse - in fact destroy it


One of the great triumphs of the Left in recent decades has been the discovery of how, systematically and strategically, to use wealth to destroy.

The great increase in per capita wealth and abolition of objective material poverty in the West might have been presumed to be destructive of the Left, since the Left was originally primarily an economic theory that based its moral appeal on the need for alleviation and abolition of poverty.

However, the Left has instead grown and thriven and become near-monopolistically dominant as objective poverty disappeared (or needed to be imported) and then societies become wealthier,

Yet understanding of how this has worked remains rudimentary - since there are no explanations in the dominant mass media, government propaganda and mainstream education - which fill our minds daily.


Asa simple and uncontroversial example, few recognize that government 'subsidy' functions - objectively -  as government control.

Once an organization gets a significant proportion of its income from government it cannot survive the removal of this 'subsidy' - especially when, as in all modern societies, an organization is absolutely prevented from making the necessary adjustments to save money (which would, usually,  involve rapidly shedding the least effective and efficient staff).

All organizations with significant government subsidy become, therefore, branches of government- first responding-to, then preemptively anticipating, government policy (which is itself driven by the mass media - which is intrinsically secular and Leftist).


Operating on the insight that the Left is evil, hence its primary strategic objective is destruction of Good, a specific example of the use of wealth to destroy comes from recent UK history.

Under the Blair/ Brown New Labour government of 1997-2010 there was a massive and very rapid transfer of money into the National Health Service (approx doubling of income) and Education system system of schools and higher education (approx fifty percent increase in funding).

The large and rapid increase in funding necessarily wreaked serious destruction in both health services and education - as has been apparent over the past several years.

How did it work?


In a nutshell, the increase in funding was used to destroy core function - so health services abandoned the primacy of health care, and education abandoned the primacy of education.

This happened because rapid increases in funding cannot be used to build primary function in expert functionality, due to manpower constraints.

While funding of a large and complex organization can be increased at ten percent a year, the supply of doctors or teachers cannot - because these jobs come at the end of a long pipeline of education and specialized training.

So it was impossible that the hiring of frontline doctors and nurses in the NHS, or of classroom teachers could be increased at the rate of expanding resources - therefore the increased resources were used to hire managers.


Management therefore expanded rapidly, and in strength (because it controlled the resource stream).

Frontline workers (doctor and nurse clinicians, class teachers) were subjected to new managerial demands.

Rapidly management became more powerful than frontline staff - frontline staff were pulled-out-of frontline activities with clients (patients and pupils) and set to work on managerial-imposed tasks of many kinds.

A typical doctor spends as much or more time on management-imposed tasks as actually seeing patients - more doctors are part time, and for these the proportion of time spent on management tasks may be considerably greater than clinical activities.  

A typical UK university now has numerically more non-faculty than faculty. The state education has (in man hours) about as many non-teaching teachers as class teachers actually teaching.


More fundamentally, the vast injection of resources into management shifted the balance of power such that management demands are now primary, and are taken as structuring of reality.

The nature of the organizational core function (what counts as health care, what counts as education) is now defined and redefined by management in an open-ended fashion and as driven by political demands from the mass media via government.

Functionality is now defined in terms of that which can be managed; so the activities of providing health services and of education are constrained by the necessity that they be auditable, hence explicit and precisely measurable.

That the manageable, auditable activity is not, in fact, the core function - may indeed be unrelated-to, orthogonal-to, actively opposed-to the core function of an organization - is simply unsayable within the bounds of management discourse...

since such a distinction is ruled-out as destructive of managerial legitimacy (or rather, revealing of the illegitimacy of management).


Thus we can see how the rapid, large scale flooding of an organization with money will, in general, objectively destroy that organization in terms of its function.

The shell of the organization will, or course, persist and expand in size - much the same people and the same kind of people continue to be employed in much the same buildings...

Doctors see patients, prescribe drugs, do procedures; teachers show-up in classrooms and say words in front of students; academic faculty get grants to do what is called research and publish stuff labeled as research...

But these activities are now orientated towards satisfying management constraints - in essence the activities are conceptualized primarily as auditable units.


In the hands of the Left, prosperity has successfully destroyed that which austerity and poverty and even war could not destroy.



The Crow said...

I enjoyed that.
And venture to observe that this is what you do best :)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - yes, you are probably correct: this is the sort of polemic that used to get me (moderate) fame and a bit of money. But around 1998 I decided that a didn't want to be primarily a professional hatchet man, even if I was quite good at it.

johnthesavage said...

When I was young and poor I couldn't understand why Brave New World was bad and thought 1984 made way more sense.

Then I got older and richer and realized how accurate Brave New World was and how terrible it was.

senexada said...

This is an especially clear description of bureaucracy. I appreciate your perspicuity. By chance have you read Parkison's Law?

In the US, the Wall Street Journal reported (Jan 9 editorial, reprinted here) that in our universities, "the number of bureaucrats has increased 10 times faster over the last decade than people hired to do actual teaching and research, US Dept of Education data show."

Bruce Charlton said...

@s - I read Parkinson a long time ago - nearly 40 years ago. He was very well known in England at that time, almost a household name. Interesting and significant that he is now pretty much forgotten - probably because all the people who would have been his readers and laughed at the bureaucrats, are now themselves bureaucrats.

Anonymous said...

This is a great insight and complements what James Simpson says in this article about the Alinsky-Cloward-Piven strategy:

What you say here could perhaps be expanded: "All organizations with significant government subsidy become, therefore, branches of government".

Why should we stop the analysis at "organizations"? Couldn't it be that the individual himself becomes absorbed into "government" once enough hand-outs have him hooked? Aren't these individuals the 47% Romney talked about?

You have to hand it to the Left, though -- they sure know how to cover all their bases: the organizations become part of government through subsidies; the individuals through hand-outs. It is a perfect scenario to implement whatever social engineering they can dream up.

Yes, you have to hand it to the Left: at least their plans work. The West is falling into all the traps that have been laid out by the Left for decades in advance. There is little to be done about it.

I may just have to stop worrying and embrace the Dark Side. Yes... I will close my eyes and learn to love the Left.

Bruce Charlton said...

Yes indeed - this is the last section from my book Thought Prison (online via link in the sidebar)

Why don’t you convert to political correctness?
Since you can't do anything about political correctness, why not just make the best of it?
Why not exploit the situation instead of moaning about it?
Do what is expedient - why not?
Why not make a successful career out of PC - like so many others?
Why not surrender your private mind to PC, in the same way as you have already surrendered your public behaviour?
By having any reservations at all, you are making yourself miserable - why not simply cast-aside those reservations?
Just say an inner yes to what you will, anyway, be forced to do...
Since you necessarily inhabit the thought prison that is political correctness – then why not, at least, become one of the ‘trustys’ among the inmates – to assist with the smooth running of the gaol, and get yourself a few privileges.
Why not, indeed, strive to become one of the guards? Somebody has to do the job? Maybe you could temper the severity of the regime?
And herein lies the particular temptation for the intellectual elite – a temptation few resist.
That (literally) soul-destroying pragmatism by which (for eminently sensible reasons) we quietly, by gradual degrees, change sides in the spiritual battle of the world: that unseen warfare between The Good and that which opposes The Good.
Well why not?
There is no earthly reason why not.
In a world of pervasive and powerful PC, there is really only one compelling reason for holding back and resisting in any way, shape or form - which is that embracing political correctness will shrink your soul.
If you do not believe in the soul, this reason will carry no force at all: so by your own calculations you are stupid to resist PC.
Or, if you believe the soul is inviolable, and that nothing you think or do can affect the soul: then also, by your own calculations, you are stupid to resist PC.
If you do not believe in Natural Law (innate knowledge of The Good), and that breaking Natural Law harms the soul: then logically you should learn to love PC.
If you do not believe in the reality of transcendental good - then you might as well go with the flow, allow yourself to be re-programmed: to learn, by regular practice, to re-label lies as truth, ugliness as beauty, evil as virtue; until PC has entered into your heart and soul, as well as pouring into your ears and out-from your mouth.

But political correctness is nihilism; therefore it is not merely political: it is also existential.
To fight against political correctness is therefore ultimately an existential act: a battle to preserve the eternal soul.
But if you do not believe that political correctness will harm your eternal soul: then you would be well-advised to suck it up.
Why not?...