The Gross Domestic Pissants

“There is, as every petty official knows, a great deal of pleasure to be had from the obstruction of others, especially if they appear to be more fortunate, better placed, richer, or more intelligent than oneself,” Theodore Dalrymple notes:


There is a pleasure in naysaying, all the greater if the naysayer is able to disguise from the victim the fact that he is not only doing his duty but gratifying himself. Indeed, there are many jobs, meaningless in themselves, in which the power to say no is the only non-monetary reward.

More to be feared even than the secret sadist, however, is the person who genuinely believes in the intrinsic value and even indispensability of his absurd task. He is as dangerous as any true believer. In my hospital, I saw many such people, scurrying like the White Rabbit in Alice from one meeting to another—meetings which medical staff were required to attend, thus diverting them from the main purpose of having medical staff in the first place. A friend of mine who had waited all day for a minor but potentially life-preserving operation was told at the last minute that his operation had been postponed because the surgeon had been called to attend a meeting. Only a credible threat by my friend of dire consequences for the hospital if the operation were not performed as planned diverted the surgeon from his pseudo- to his real work.

I am obliged by law to charge some of the publications for which I write Value Added Tax, which I then have to forward to the Treasury. The publications, however, are permitted to claim back from the Treasury the Value Added Tax with which they have been charged. No doubt most of this to-ing and fro-ing is done by computer, but it must involve some human labor, which clearly constitutes activity rather than work.

How many people, I wonder, are laboring hard to reduce the economic output of their country? In total it must be many millions.


Or as we like to call them in California, Sacramento.

See also, the Federal Government in Washington DC, where those who have labored particularly hard to reduce the economic output of their country look forward to the day when they become the subjects of fawning documentaries:

[vimeo 90987720]

When Frank announced his (long overdue) retirement, “The media will undoubtedly lionize Frank, who has served 16 terms in the House,” Bryan Preston warned last year:

He doesn’t deserve it. He deserves to be considered a corrupt creature of Washington who helped usher in the Great Recession. Frank was among the Democrats who prevented scrutiny and reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when it could have prevented the economic collapse. Republicans at the time wanted more oversight and regulation of Fannie and Freddie. Frank and many of his fellow Democrats stood in the way.

As Jonah Goldberg added back then, “As with all bullies, [Frank] rationalizes his behavior by telling himself that the victims deserve it and the applause is for his courage. But you can tell from that occasional smile at the discomfiture of his targets, that there’s something more primal at work.” Which dovetails remarkably well with the quote at the top of this post from Britain’s Good Dr. Dalrymple.


Related: “Ever get the feeling that the entire government, at every level, is just trolling you?”

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)



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