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Beating a 'Yes Minister' system

is4junk          8 January 2016 08:29 AM

In the 'Yes, Minister' world, the Bureaucracy is the permanent opposition to the administration. While it leans leftist, it is beneficial to both parities. A political donor that wants a change in government will need to do all leg work to make it happen if it is against the Bureaucracy's interests. That donor will need to pay off lots of politicians, regulators, and bureaucrats. Finally, the courts may roll it back (in part or in full) even if it is done. If we assume the political parties are driven mainly by greed and a little by principle then the system works for both parties. An expensive and opaque system with large opportunities for graft. Note: "pay off" isn't just money but can be power and influence.

Assuming this world, what is a President Donald Trump to do? His donor base will be small - he is largely a populist and isn't courting the donors. He will need to push his own policy through the Bureaucracy at his own cost! In the 'Yes, Minister' world, his appointed cabinet will be sabotaged, misinformed, leaked against, ect. To really take on the Bureaucracy he will need replace the head, neck, and shoulders of many of the agencies. Can he hire enough Czars to take over the rolls and responsibilities of all those groups (while sidelining the current bureaucrats to something meaningless - firing would be difficult)? Can he effectively stall any judicial challenges to his policies?

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ChristianKl 9 January 2016 04:19 AM

I don't think "Yes Minister" has something to do with the burocracy being leftist.
If you take the issue of equal opportunity you have Humphrey saying that he's pro-women because his wife is a woman.
Humphrey doesn't care about civil liberties. In the US contexts Humphrey would be on the side of the policy when a policyman shots a black person.

"Yes Minister" works without saying whether the prime minister is left or right because the political questions aren't about left or right.

If we look at the US, it's worth noting that it has a different system then the UK. In the US any minister has no problem with choosing his private secretary. In the US it's much easier to fire people.

That said it's very unclear what Trump even wants to do when elected. He purposefuly doesn't make specific promises. A lot of moves are to create a good negotiating position.
That includes speaking positively of Modi and Putin.
Claiming that the Mexican's will pay for the wall is also about creating a negotiating position.

Unfortunately I fear that one of the biggest legacies of Trump will be that the Republican party doesn't hold itself anymore to what Karl Rove called the 100% truth test.
Having an Anti-Vaxxer as president will result in a lot of unnecessary deaths. You will have an enviroment where people one side of the debate doesn't dare to say that Trump lied about issues like Muslims in the US celebrating 9/11.

Then Trump is going to pick fights and make people inside the administration afraid of him. He wouldn't tolerate the kind of behavior of Humphrey. He will fight, likely producing an administration that is at the beginning even more disfuncitonal than what we have at the moment.

It's also worth noting that there are cases where Trump won't fight the administration. If the US military doesn't want to fight a war, I doubt Trump tries to get them to fight it. Trump won't fight the NSA and maybe even help the NSA with outlawing crypto.


is4junk 3 February 2016 12:25 PM

Megan McArdle doesn't think Trump is going to beat the system.

The third problem is bureaucratic proceduralism. Yes, yes, I know: Everyone hates bureaucrats. But everyone loves Social Security checks. And federal funding for their local school. And Ö and Ö Iím not going to bore you with the list. Anything that gets done by Washington must be done by the civil service. These folks are lifers. You canít fire them. Because of the abovementioned legislative compromises required, you also canít push a bill through that will let you fire them. And they -- not the president, and not the cabinet secretaries -- are the folks who do most of what government does. The president can wave his hands like Jean-Luc Picard and say, ďMake it so.Ē But if they donít wanna, they ainít gonna.