Another story involving a sequence of events so entirely idiotic, it could only possibly occur in a government agency. In the private sector, something like this would never happen. At some point, a non-idiot would question the decision, and order more research before something as colossally stupid as destroying mice would be approved. While the good little statists at Ars Technica seem to be shocked by this outrageous example of waste and stupidity, I don’t find it shocking at all. This is about the sort of thing we should expect from the government, for a wide variety of reasons…
Government employees are generally incompetent. They are typically paid a salary well above market wage rates that has absolutely nothing to do with their performance, and is based entirely on seniority. Obtaining government employment often requires you to “know someone” already on the inside. Cronyism is rampant. Oppressive bureaucratic rules stifle creativity, and make it a generally unappealing place to work, meaning that bright and creative minds are almost impossible to recruit. It is virtually impossible to get fired, regardless of how terrible you are at your job (I just about guarantee you the CIO in this story who single-handedly cost the taxpayers $2.7 million will keep his job, in the private sector, do you think this would be the case?)
Government employees have no incentive to manage resources efficiently. Nobody is ever really held accountable for resources under their control. Funding has nothing to do with results, and everything to do with how much you spend. Employees are never really encouraged to save money or minimize costs. In fact, if you don’t spend all the money you are allocated every year, you receive less money the following year. This results in a bizarre situation where at the end of the fiscal year, agencies often order a bunch of frivolous, unnecessary items, solely to ensure they spent all the available money they received, thereby justifying demanding even more money in next year’s budget.
Given that this took place at the “Economic Development Administration,” we can probably safely assume that most of the people working for this agency are committed keynesians. They probably can’t even understand what they did wrong. After all, by destroying a bunch of computer equipment, they provided much needed financial stimulus and created new private-sector jobs in the information technology industry! This is surely a net boon to the country, and a fulfillment of the agency’s goals and objectives. I’ve heard that Paul Krugman personally called the CIO to congratulate him on this creative and unique solution to our economic woes.
One last thing I’d like to point out here, we aren’t talking about a nuclear warhead storage facility… this is the economic development administration. Even IF the malware was the result of some coordinated attack by those evil Chinese computer hackers, exactly what classified information can an economic development agency possibly have? What critical secrets could the Chinese learn by accessing these systems? How to ruin an economy and prolong a depression? We can only hope that the secrets of keynesian economics would fall into the hands of our enemies. Maybe they might implement them, thereby destroying their economies in a similar fashion to the way we destroyed ours.