Friday, February 27, 2009

Boosting Bureaucracy

I was watching Newt on the tube this morning, as in Gingrich, extolling the virtues of our private sector, renowned for its aerospace knowhow, historically undertaken with Langley, other bases. He's used to the prime contractor irrigation system, wherein government doesn't do its own building, but outsources to engineering goliaths, such as Raytheon and Electric Boat Company.

These are somewhat "lines in the sand" however, in that core government functions, supported with software, take lots of civilian services no matter what, i.e. jobs are jobs, no matter how labeled. If you're a GS-13 in an embassy, or some technocrat engineer in the employ of a foreign government, you're still doing work, earning compensation, and that's really what people are looking for: meaningful employment (or deployment).

In terms of managing bureaucracy, we don't want government workers warehoused in FEMA trailers. Newt mentioned the Johnson administration which reminds me of the Jobs Training Partnership Act. Portland's Private Industry Council paid me and my coworkers to provide necessary job skills to older workers, then help them find placements. This was a holdover program from the Johnson Era, starting to die just as the "PC revolution" was taking off.

These days, the skills requirements are higher than ever. My government service unit blueprints (XRLs in high desert, etc.) aren't for entirely clueless people, although some will host newborns. The premise of our democracy is we uphold some standards. A call center or specialized clinic can't run by itself, even if staff is quite skeletal sometimes.

Anyway, I think it's somewhat fortunate, even if entirely a coincidence, that FED (as in Fly's Eye Dome) and Fed (as in federal), have essentially the same sound. When imagining your future Forest Service, don't flash on log cabins too much, even if we still have those for tourists. Low impact green living is the name of the game, meaning you want to vanish without a trace, once the mapping is complete (or whatever survey -- picture large databases filling with butterfly counts, tracked over time).

Johnson's "war on poverty" was maybe too shabby, in terms of not availing of higher tech. There's still this misapprehension that the civilian sector lags the military, even with geodesic dome patents expired, FOSS on the loose (SQL, RSA...). This is not an up to date view. Newt probably knows this, but TV viewers may still live in the past, kept there by sitcoms and soaps wherein the characters know next to nothing of math or science (except on NUMB3RS, but somehow that doesn't seem real to me).