Wednesday, October 26, 2011

OWS: They are the government now...

Email from Chris S, this little gem of an article...

Money quote:

"The other day, I took in $2,000. I kept $650 for my group, and gave the rest to Finance," he told the Post. "Then I went to them with a request -- so many people need things, and they should not be going without basic comfort items -- and I was told to fill out paperwork. Paperwork! Are they the government now?"

To be fair, that kind of bureaucracy is also characteristic of a group that OWS fears FAR more than government. And that is....corporations!

William Niskanen's classic BUREAUCRACY AND REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT, in fact, was written after he worked at Ford Motor Company.

Look, governments MUST have bureaucracy. Large corporations, too. They deal with government, they have to use forms and fill out reports.

If you don't like bureaucracy, then my friends at OWS, you must want that thing we call "capitalism," with its emphasis on new, dynamic firms and innovation. What you are getting a taste of is corporatism, where the line between government and large corporations simply disappears.

"Bye, Kids! Have fun storming the castle!" ("Do you think it will woik?" "It would take a miracle...")


Dirty Davey said...

This is a little misleading. I don't know that "capitalism" avoids bureaucracy anywhere outside of fantasyland. Yes, maybe small companies don't have as much bureaucracy--but capitalism rewards growth, and growth will lead to bureaucracy.

The implication that corporations' bureaucracies come about because they have to "deal with government" is I think untrue. The bureaucracy as a form of organization pre-dates corporatism.

If you don't like bureaucracy, what you want is to live in a small tribe in a hunting-gathering society. There's no fantasy version of "capitalism" that will get you there.

Simon Spero said...

The article cited refers to an earlier story which has the real money quote. (

« The Alliance For Global Justice, which was retained 10 days ago by Occupy Wall Street to manage the processing of online donations, first blamed one of the entities Occupy Wall Street is protesting –, owned by Visa — for the rejected donations and the freezing of another $40,000.

“I can’t help but believe that politics must be involved somewhere,” said Kathy Hoyt, a founding member of AFGJ, in a statement posted online that has since been removed, after the group realized it was its own blunder.

Chuck Kaufman, a national coordinator at AFGJ who is working hand-in-hand with the movement’s finance team, told today that his organization simply wasn’t used to processing so many donations.

“Our group normally processes a dozen donations a week, so all of a sudden Occupy Wall Street took off and it was 400 per day,” Kaufman said. “. We just didn’t understand the banking architecture. We’ve never done anything on this scale before. I guess we should have communicated this to E-Onlinedata in the beginning.”»

Some one should do some serious research on the size and structure of firms. There could be a Nobel prize or two in it.

Anonymous said...

As Mort Saul once said, "There used to be this thing called 'capitalism.' It was great. You kids should ask your parents about it."

Hasdrubal said...

I don't care how nimble your organization is, you'll always need beancounters and they'll always be frustrating to deal with. I think some of the problems with bureaucracy begin when the beancounters start winning the power struggle and can enforce rules that make life easier for them at the expense of achieving organizational goals.

It doesn't look like the OWS folks have gotten to that point, this sounds more like people complaining because they don't have much experience with the real world: You mean, I have to actually fill out paperwork so the beancounters can know how much money we have and where it's going? You know who else did paperwork? Nazis!