Appreciating Government Category Explained:

Good government is slow, deliberate, fair and inefficient.

I have chosen articles for this section from writers who agree with me, such as:

“WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964?”

Forget Shorter Showers
Why personal change does not equal political change
Upping the Stakes by Derrick Jensen
Published in the July/August 2009 issue of Orion magazine

WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet?

Sam Smith,  Why Bother?
Los Angeles: Ferel House, 2001. ISBN 0922915725
Page 18

Whenever I hear of another school shooting or other youthful violence, the first thing I think about is Dr. Calhoun and his mice. Dr. John Calhoun put four pairs of white mice in a steel cage eight-and-a-half feet on a side. Within two years the mice had increased to 2,200. The adult mice began excluding young mice from their company and the young began biting, attacking, and slashing one another. Finally social and sexual intercourse became impossible without violence. The mice stopped reproducing and eventually all died out.


We’re in a cage, too, except it has shopping malls and freeways and cops with guns and sirens. We have governments and hospitals and schools and we have talk shows and newspapers to help us forget that we’re in a cage.

Meyer, Michael and Jennifer,  “The Myth of German efficiency.”
Newsweek, 7/30/90, Vol. 116 Issue 5
p36, 1p

A few costs of the Teutonic ethic: meddling neighbors, sodden pedestrians and wooden tomatoes

Time and efficiency: the diptych of German virtue. It’s a cliche. Just as the mere word manana brands Latins as slow and unreliable, jokes ask how many Poles or Irish it takes to change a light bulb. Globe-trotting sophisticates know that dinner at eight means nine in Madrid and half past in London. Here in Germany you can be the last guest if you show up at five after. Social promptness is only one of a host of traits that have given Germans a reputation for efficiency unrivaled since Alexander the Great made short work of the world before his 33rd birthday.

Is it deserved? Even as the Teutonic industrial machine rolls along like a supercharged BMW, there are signs that German efficiency is not all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, West Germany is Europe’s economic dynamo, boasting the highest per capita productivity in the world. Yes, German planes and trains leave (more or less) on time, and the streets are clean. “The Germans are not perfect,” says John Meyer, an American business consultant in Dusseldorf “But when it comes to efficiency, they come closer than anyone else.”

Kabat-Zinn, Jon.  Wherever You Go, There You Are
New York, 1994: ISBN 1562827693
Page 47

On the radio, I heard someone define ethics as “obedience to the unenforceable.” Not bad.

Jonathan Holden, GULF
JANUARY 17, 1991


Ah, love, let us be true

To one another!
-- Matthew Arnold

And didn't our love seem almost a political act,
to turn away from the footage of the F-15s
following each other in single file
along a slow assembly-line as if on parade,
toy after toy, each copy being lifted, smoking
off the scorched belt, then the next
and the next being mass-produced into an industrial sky.
As we kissed, and kissed more deeply, trying
to make the picture go away, to deny this, I saw

Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
NewYork: Perseus Books, 2002
ISBN 1586480499

Page 84

The prospect of war is exciting. Many young men, schooled in the notion that war is the ultimate definition of manhood, that only in war will they be tested and proven, that they can discover their worth as human beings in battle, willingly join the great enterprise. The admiration of the crowd, the high-blown rhetoric, the chance to achieve the glory of the previous generation, the ideal of nobility beckon us forward. And people, ironically, enjoy righteous indignation and an object upon which to unleash their anger.

War usually starts with collective euphoria.

Charlie Pye-Smith, The Subsidy Scandal: How Governments Squander Public Money and Destroy the Environment
London and Virginia
Earthscan Publications, 2002

ISBN 1853839027
Pages xvi and 154-5

During the early 1970s I worked on a mixed arable and dairy farm in the north of England, and as a farm student I was frequently entrusted with the least skilled and most dreary tasks: forking bales of hay, unloading wagons of fertilizer, shoveling cow muck, and the like. One of the less cerebral activities involved ripping out hedgerows, and during the course of a month I and a couple of others destroyed and burnt great lengths of hedgerow, which for two centuries or more had been home to a wide variety of plants, birds, and small animals. In doing so we turned half a dozen small, irregular fields into one large 100-acre field, thus gaining extra land on which to grow crops. From now on the business of plowing, sowing, and harvesting would also be much easier, and the farm more "efficient."

Peter M. Senge, “Creating Desired Futures in a Global Society
in Northeast Sun magazine, Spring 2004 issue
Pages 11-19

Understanding your constraints frees you to create.

One of the things that distinguishes the master from the novice is an appreciation of the constraints of his or her medium. Or as Fritz put it, "No painter paints on an infinite canvas."

John Elter, a former vice president at Xerox who led development of the company's first fully digital product, used this principle to great effect. Early on in a multi-year product-development process to create a new generation of digital copiers, Elter took his team on a two-day wilderness expedition in the New Mexico desert. On the way back, they happened to walk by a dump - at the bottom of which they discovered a Xerox copier. It was a revelation. They returned to work with a new vision for the product and their entire enterprise: "Zero to landfill, for our children."

Donald A. Brown,  American Heat
Maryland, Rowman & Littlefield 2002
ISBN 0742512959
Page 208

A number of economists have recommended that greenhouse gas allocations among nations be set to maximize global utility or efficiency. The idea is that the allocation scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be chosen that maximizes global GDP or some other measure of global economic activity.

It would make no difference under such proposals if the U.S. economy would prosper more than other nations that might shoulder more of the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, provided that total global economic activity is maximized in the chosen option compared to alternative allocation schemes for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The ethical basic for such proposals is, as discussed in chapter 3, the utilitarian notion that public policy decisions should choose the option that maximizes happiness or utility as measured by market preferences.

Efficiency key to maintaining economic competitiveness
The Malta Independent Online-News
Staff Reporter

A high level of efficiency at all times and across all sectors of the economy was instrumental in maintaining Malta's economic competitiveness.

Dr John C. Grech, president of the foundation for national competitiveness, made it very clear that although Malta was well positioned to make the most of the opportunities for growth, it was important that the country took a long hard look at the future and established where it wanted to go.

Dr Grech was addressing a business breakfast organised by The Malta Business Weekly and the Le Meridien Phoenicia Hotel last Thursday.

Throughout his presentation, Dr Grech emphasised on the need for change but more importantly consultation between all parties. He said the options chosen must be plausible and desirable, and the country?s strategy must be developed accordingly.

Robert M. Persig,  Zen The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance
New York: 1975
ISBN 0553103105

Page 160

But if you have to choose among an infinite number of ways to put it together then the relation of the machine to you, and the relation of the machine and you to the rest of the world, has to be considered, because the selection from among many choices the art of the work is just as dependent upon your own mind and spirit as it is upon the material of the machine. That’s why you need the peace of mind.

Page 290, 291

I think that if we are going to reform the world, and make it a better place to live in, the way to do it is not with talk about relationships of a political nature, which are inevitably dualistic, full of subjects and objects and their relationship to one another; or with programs full of things for other people to do.

Hugh Francis Blunt, The Dreamer
1926

He made but dreams; for this they laughed him down,

Those praters of Efficiency, who wrought
The more substantial things (or thus they thought)
That merited a place of sure renown.
He never made a shoe, a suit, a gown;
He paid no taxes on a house and lot;
He never sold a thing and rarely bought;
He was the Non-Producer of the town.

He made but dreams; such inefficient things!
And they who bought and sold and toiled and played
Could never guess the joke Eternity
Had played on them; for still the Dreamer sings
Long centuries since his deriders paid
God's tax of death on earth-idolatry.

Sagoff, Mark. The Economy of the Earth
New York: ISBN 0521341132
Page 96

Suppose a corporation proposes and an environmentalist group opposes the building of a shopping center in a rural area just outside of town. An economist might make a recommendation based on prices assigned to the various wants or preferences of relevant interest groups. This would effectively limit conflict to the immediate parties who know about and are affected by the project. The genius of democracy, however, is to let the conflict spread to a larger audience.

The institutions of democratic government—legislatures, agencies, parties, courts, and the press—depend and thrive on the potential for conflicts of this kind to widen beyond their original bounds. This happens when one side— usually the side that otherwise would be defeated—finds a public issue (e.g., a “snail darter”) and moves the conflict into the press, the legislature, and the courts. The decision-making process then may become a kind of public good, since it allows everyone who participates in it the feeling of relevance, importance, and community-consciousness flowing from that participation.

Dewey, John.  Democracy and Education
Macmillan, 1916
Chapter Nine: “Natural Development and Social Efficiency as Aims

Translated into specific aims, social efficiency indicates the importance of industrial competency. Persons cannot live without means of subsistence; the ways in which these means are employed and consumed have a profound influence upon all the relationships of persons to one another. If an individual is not able to earn his own living and that of the children dependent upon him, he is a drag or parasite upon the activities of others. He misses for himself one of the most educative experiences of life. If he is not trained in the right use of the products of industry, there is grave danger that he may deprave himself and injure others in his possession of wealth. No scheme of education can afford to neglect such basic considerations.

Bell, Daniel., and Stephan R. Graubard. Toward the Year 2000: Work in Progress
United States of America: 1997
ISBN 0262522373
Page 219

A negative reaction to totalitarian efficiency leads to overt or covert efforts to prevent exploitation by managerial groups. One way of accomplishing this is to encourage bureaucratic inefficiency. Some of the attitudes expressed by our current adolescent protest groups include this idea. It is of some interest that those groups in our present society that most favor anarchy as a method of avoiding control by the establishment also favor the use of drugs for kicks.

From Touchtones:  A Book Of Daily Meditations For Men
New York: 1986
ISBN 006255445X

for March 24

I don’t like a man to be too efficient. He’s likely to be not human enough.

-- Felix Frankfurter

Scott, James C.  Seeing Like a State
United States of America: 1998
ISBN 0300070160
Page 98

It is helpful to imagine two different maps of activity. In the case of a planned urban neighborhood, the first map consists of a representation of the streets and buildings, tracing the routes that the planners have provided for the movements between the workplaces and residences, the delivery of goods, access to shopping, and so on. The second map consists of tracings, as in a time-lapse photograph, of all the unplanned movements—pushing a baby carriage, window shopping, strolling, going to see a friend, playing hopscotch on the sidewalk, walking the dog, watching the passing scene, taking shortcuts between work and home, and so on. This second map, far more complex than the first, reveals very different patterns of circulation.

The older the neighborhood, the more likely that the second map will have nearly superseded the first, in roughly the same way that planned, suburban Levittowns have, after fifty years, become thoroughly different setting from what their designers envisioned.

Fodor, Eben. Better NOT Bigger
Canada: 1999. ISBN 0865713863
Page 142

Our modern society has managed to all but isolate us from Nature, which was once our dearest friend. Children, who are fascinated by nature and love the outdoors, are weaned from it as quickly as possible. We go from air-conditioned homes to air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned offices without more than a puff or two of fresh air in between.

Our neighbors rarely see us as we scoot our car deftly out of the garage, letting the door close automatically after us. We have banished dirt, cold, wet, discomfort, inconvenience, and delay from our day.

Let’s assume that our values shift away from consumption and growth and towards simplicity and stability. We rebuild our bond with the natural world. We discover the neighborhood that we live in and meet the people next door for the first time. We discover a sense of place. We find that our community is not all it could be and we make changes. We re-prioritize our lives and find that we want to spend much more time with our families and good friends, even if we have to cut back work hours and reduce our incomes.

From eff.org/pub/EFF/quotes.eff
downloaded 1/12/97

The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.

-- Eugene McCarthy

Whenever you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship.
-- Harry S. Truman, former US President