11.15.2005

The Law Review Article I Wish I Wrote

Hit & Run notes a law review article examining bureaucracy and government through the prism of Harry Potter.

This Essay examines what the Harry Potter series (and particularly the most recent book, The Half-Blood Prince) tells us about government and bureaucracy. There are two short answers. The first is that Rowling presents a government (The Ministry of Magic) that is 100% bureaucracy. There is no discernable executive or legislative branch, and no elections. There is a modified judicial function, but it appears to be completely dominated by the bureaucracy, and certainly does not serve as an independent check on governmental excess.

Second, government is controlled by and for the benefit of the self-interested bureaucrat. The most cold-blooded public choice theorist could not present a bleaker portrait of a government captured by special interests and motivated solely by a desire to increase bureaucratic power and influence. Consider this partial list of government activities: a) torturing children for lying; b) utilizing a prison designed and staffed specifically to suck all life and hope out of the inmates; c) placing citizens in that prison without a hearing; d) allows the death penalty without a trial; e) allowing the powerful, rich or famous to control policy and practice; f) selective prosecution (the powerful go unpunished and the unpopular face trumped-up charges); g) conducting criminal trials without independent defense counsel; h) using truth serum to force confessions; i) maintaining constant surveillance over all citizens; j) allowing no elections whatsoever and no democratic lawmaking process; k) controlling the press.



And all I've got is e-wills. Meh.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...short cutter...

The Anti-Complaint

Bruce Godfrey has an excellent idea for a good deed that costs very little and can make a great difference in the life of those you interact with on a daily basis.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...git 'r done...

11.10.2005

Board of Trustees Town Hall Meeting

As the Washington Post announced, there was a town hall meeting with members of the Board of Trustees tonight. Not the entire Board, but a subset attended, in advance of the full Board meeting tomorrow.

John, Alex, Jaisen, and I went after class tonight to speak out about the governance situation. Firstly, I'm glad that the Board (or at least some of the members) wants to open dialogue, even if it's late and even if it's under pressure. It takes courage to stand up in front of a 'hot' room and field questions.

I was moved by the passion of the speakers, especially the former tennis team member. He spoke about how, when the tennis team's $120,000 budget was cut last year, he was told by the administration that it was due to financial constraints [Ben Ladner admitted to improperly spending in excess of $120,000 himself. -Ed.], but the Board of Trustees was able, this year, to spend $3.75 million to sever ties with Dr. Ladner. He went on to point out that not a single trustee was at the town hall meeting held at the time of the athletics cuts.

When I spoke, I focused on the lack of communication up to this point, noting that every previous communication has come only after pressure from students, faculty, the press, or the Senate Finance Committee. With that lack of communication, the Board's commitment to self-assessing their governance structure is unlikely to be sufficient. It's a baby step, but we expect more.

After my question I was interviewed by Lisa Nurnberger from WAMU, so I might be on the radio tomorrow morning.

Thanks go out to everyone who attended and everyone who has not given up on bringing this matter to a full accounting. As long as we keep on fighting, we'll keep on making progress.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...briefly updating...

UPDATE: WAMU did a Metro Connection story on the Board of Trustees. I'm the one at the beginning saying that "this Board has lost the confidence of every important constituency at AU."

11.03.2005

Cracks in the Coalition

...and crags in the face. Reading the Economist article about Germany's coalition government meltdown, I'm left with one burning question:

Why is it that the German leaders are so unattractive and frankly, tired-looking?



Given that I'm operating on three hours of sleep after finishing my Comment first draft (email me if you want to read 40 pp of legal writing), maybe I shouldn't throw stones.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...tired...