Sunday, January 10, 2016

Should Government Bureaucrats be Trained in Special Schools?

Many countries have one of these.  Promising, self-confident young men and women are thrown into almost endless lectures of political orthodoxy, of the need to serve their country, and of uploading its law, without questioning its underlying morality and validity.  Years later, the indoctrinated youth become government officials, dictating the policies that affect the very future and fortune of the country.  Unfortunately, being isolated in an entirely different academic and living environment makes youth educated under "bureaucrat schools" lose connection with society at large.  As such, government bureaucrats should not be trained in special schools.

Often, the best policies are ones conceived through understanding real issues on the ground.  Career bureaucrats that have not had any non-governmental experiences would not have sufficient realizations of those "real issues on the ground."  A particularly striking example is the "ethnic harmonization" policies ran in the Chinese Far West.  As bureaucrats obediently implement government policies that essentially curb free religious expressions of Muslim minorities, the bureaucrats show little understanding of potential consequences of such policies.  This is largely due to the fact that they were trained in "bureaucrat schools" located far away from the front-lines of ethno-religious conflicts.  With little experiences perceiving the danger of social schism in the restive regions, they show little ability and concern for adopting government policies that adhere to local conditions and ultimately smooth out any sources of grievances.  Bureaucrats are most effective if they can work to resolve real-world problems; but those trained in special bureaucrat schools simply are not up to the task of flexibility due to lack of real-world experiences.

To further exacerbate the lack of real-world understandings, bureaucrats trained in special schools also lack the real-world social connections needed to strike compromises.  To state more simply, because bureaucrats only interact with other bureaucrats during years of schooling, they lack any acquaintance with members of various vested interests that govern the cultural, social, and economic orders at both the local and national levels in other fields.  As a result, bureaucrats have much tougher time evaluating their own work until negative reactions turn into vocal complaints,  A directly contrasting example to bureaucrat school is business school.  Graduates of business schools find among classmates enterprising individuals in every field, both corporate and non-corporate, both manufacturing- and service-oriented.  The ready pool of friendships can be quickly tapped by individual graduates to further their careers and enterprises through introductions, partnerships, and friendly competitions.  The lack of parallel in bureaucrat schools mean bureaucrats and their work are more detached from real-world conditions, aggravating conflicts and create enemies unbeknownst to the bureaucrats themselves.

Of course, bureaucrat schools do have their benefits.  By putting all future government officials through uniform training, there is greater guarantee of standardized application of policies nationwide.  And years of indoctrinating education ensures (?) graduates hold allegiance to their native country.  The promise of stable post-graduation career enhance enthusiasm and morale of the student body, in ways that many universities of questionable repute certainly cannot.  But to lock some of the country's best and brightest into a character-reducing, isolating environment just because of these benefits may be unjustifiable.  In fact, such isolation only establish a sense of lacking confidence for the country's government.  After all, unless the country was fearful of wavering loyalty among its smartest youth, why would academically compelled conformity and lock-in straight to a career job after graduation be even necessary?

For governments, bureaucrat schools make rational sense.  The best and the brightest are taught loyalty and service to the state so government policies can be put into action via the best possible execution.  But by throwing future bureaucrats into an isolating environment with little academic interaction with the outside world, the state also make bureaucrats lonely individuals, incapable of smoothly adjusting to demands of local conditions and vested interests.  This last point is enough to offset any potential benefits of a more uniform bureaucrat population.

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