Stop Bashing the Bureaucracy

By Yarwood, Dean L. | Public Administration Review, November-December 1996 | Go to article overview

Stop Bashing the Bureaucracy


Yarwood, Dean L., Public Administration Review


We live in a time when the federal bureaucracy seems to have reached a new low in public esteem. Bashing it is the order of the day. As might be expected, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has come in for its share of criticism. In the House, a freshman member, Representative Charlie Norwood, R-GA, comments, "I continue to believe the best solution for OSHA is to close it down and spread every employee there out into the 50 states never to be allowed to return inside the Beltway." He continues, "A lot of these federal agencies have been in my life and in my pocket book and in my family's life and in my friends' life for a long time, and it gives one great pleasure to fight `em back'" (Victor, 1995, p. 2001). A story circulates (falsely) that OSHA bureaucrats have issued a regulation prohibiting dentists from giving extracted teeth to children, thus making the tooth fairy superfluous (Victor, 1995, p. 1999)! Some of these members are not fixed on particular agencies but feel that the federal government itself has become too large and that it needs a general down-sizing. This is the feeling of a dedicated group of Republican freshman members of the House. Calling themselves the "New Federalists," they have stipulated a great reluctance to vote for any budget resolution that does not eliminate cabinet level departments (Browning, 1995, pp. 2414).

While times are difficult, this is not the first, nor will it be the last, for bureaucracy bashing by members of Congress. This diversion has a long history in the United States. As early as 1866 California Senator James A. McDougall proclaimed: "Our City of Washington is filled with officials who have new duties to perform, offices to be made for them. You may go to any of the departments of the government and walk through during business hours, and you will not find one clerk in five who has any business to do except smoke a cigar and enjoy conversation with his friends" (Boykin, 1961, p. 34).

Commentary

In May of 1879, Samuel "Sunset" Cox of New York delivered his "spit" speech in the House:

"Mr. Speaker, let any member of the House go through the government departments and look in the open doors; and except for women who work faithfully, he will find a good many clerks, when not engaged in reading newspapers, talking politics and spitting tobacco juice. There is no man in all the world like a government clerk for splendid spitting. There never were clerks or persons who could excel them in the flux of their salivary glands! No country, sir, rejoices in such great prairies, wonderful rivers, high mountains, and such a great people as in our own beloved land; but in one thing, sir, we surpass the world and ourselves. Our clerks can spit higher, spit farther, and spit more than any people on the face of the Earth-and get more pay for the performance! I still except the ladies from this salivary achievement" (Boykin, 1961, pp. 3-4).

During the famous 80th Congress (1947-1949), Senator Alexander Wiley, R-WI, sent a letter to every member of the Congress asking for 'tales from their collection of humor." (Wiley, 1947, p. xxiii.). Some of these dealt with bureaucracy. For example, Representative Howard H. Buffet R-Neb. offered a story taken from the days of the frontier:

"General Custer sent a message to Sitting Bull and said he would like to have him come in for a conference; that he had some men coming from Washington and he wanted Sitting Bull to talk to those men and work out a settlement.

Sitting Bull sent back a message to Custer and said, `Chief Yellow Hair,' he said, `I believe you and I would trust you, and I would have a conference with you but,' he said, `you have men coming from Washington. All men from Washington,' said Sitting Bull, `are liars'" (Wiley, 1947, p. 170).

Buffet allowed that though it had been a long time, "I am curiously reminded of that story by current happenings" (Wiley, 1947, p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Stop Bashing the Bureaucracy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.