You can’t suspend the law of gravity. Nor, apparently, the laws of bureaucratic lethargy and inertia.
Diana Rickert was a policy analyst with the Illinois Policy Institute who accepted a job with the administration of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
She lasted six weeks.
The assignment: combine and streamline several governmental departments. After years of “railing against government,” she felt she must accept this opportunity to improve government from the inside. Or else forever wonder whether she might have made a difference.
She’s learned her answer. She could not. Not as an insider. Not without the authority, at a minimum, to fire useless employees, who abound in Illinois’s state government.
And whose uselessness doesn’t always preclude outrageous expectations about salary and position.
Whether trying to get working computers or to get workers to work on simple but unfamiliar tasks, Diana and the few others eager to get stuff done were constantly thwarted by the apathy and sense of entitlement of the majority — and by endless arcane and senseless rules. Rather than imply tacit acceptance of such a broken, unfixable system, she resigned.
All this sounds familiar, an inevitable feature of government bureaucracy with its glued-in vested interests and lack of market-style profit incentives. Old news if you’ve ever been to the DMV.
So what’s the answer? Give up?
No. Illinois is “ready for change,” Diana Rickert says. But it’s outsiders who will have to change it — from the outside . . . “because the insiders never will.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.