“What’s the difference between civil service and government bureaucracy?”
I’m glad you asked.
People need government for a number of functions: making laws, enforcing laws, defending borders, building infrastructure. When a government agency seeks to fulfill one of these legitimate government functions, you’ve got civil service. But when a government agency works toward its own wellbeing rather than the wellbeing of its intended function, you’ve got government bureaucracy.
I’m not sure how fast civil service devolves into government bureaucracy, but as old as our government agencies are at this point, the timetable doesn’t much matter; they’ve all devolved by now. So we’ve ended up with government agencies that devote their time and money to lobbying the government and voters for more funding. Or expanding the administration of the agency in order to increase the number of top-tier jobs. Or hunting down new functions outside the original purview of the agency.
For example, when a school system learns that a significant number of children in its community aren’t reading at grade level, that institution might get around to calling a meeting or even forming a committee. Eventually. But wait till you see even a little slice of its tax revenue threatened. That’s when you see how fast government bureaucrats can move. Closed-door sessions! Emergency plans! Consultants!
It’s not that there aren’t any good workers in a government bureaucracy. It’s not that there isn’t any attention paid to the agency’s intended function. You’ll find good, committed people doing good work, but they aren’t likely to be in control. The skills needed to teach or counsel or build bridges aren’t the same skills needed to become a government bureaucrat. In fact, the ability or interest in doing actual work is generally seen as proof of the inability to lead in a government bureaucracy. Leaders in a government bureaucracy “lead,” which means meetings and conferences and hand-wringing and lunches and more meetings.
Government agencies need adequate money to fulfill their mission. That and no more. Any more and they’ll actually begin to fail at their mission as they begin to concentrate on increasing the number of executives (and their salaries) and on finding other tasks to justify their expansion.
It is into this work environment that political correctness has entered and thrived. No matter what the civil service function of an agency, political correctness is just what the government bureaucrats were looking for. What better way to perpetuate a bureaucracy than to add the demand for systemic thought control under the disguise of a just cause, especially one so counterintuitive that people will only embrace it with constant badgering.
Oh, the endless meetings! Oh, the endless need for more–more administrators, more planning, more money!
To say that government bureaucracy is byzantine is to insult the Byzantines. They actually kept an empire going for a thousand years. I’m afraid the same won’t be said of the modern government bureaucrat.