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Chapter 14 Essay and Discussion


In Chapter 14 in We The People (Ginsberg, et.al.) we discuss bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is “the complex structure of offices, tasks, rules, and principles of organization that is employed by all large-scale institutions to coordinate the work of their personnel” (Ginsberg, et.al.). Bureaucracy is apart of our everyday lives. We The People uses examples such as, the U.S. Weather Service, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Department of Transportation (Ginsberg, et.al.). Bureaucracy depends on the many departments that coordinate together in order to be effective. “Bureaucracy was the first information network” (Ginsberg, et.al.).

There are many benefits to a bureaucratic system, the book discuses the “merit system” (Gisnberg, et.al.). The “merit system” is based on the person who is best qualified for the job, rather than by who they know. It offers a competitive job market by creating tests to distinguish who is best qualified. Political figures are not apart of the “merit system” (Ginsberg, et.al.). Government workers are usually paid less than private institutions but they are also provided with job security. In most cases Bureaucracy can be an efficient way to run the government, but it can also render the government useless.

An example of when bureaucracy fails is “Hurricane Katrina”. When the category 5 Hurricane Katrina hit the the coast of Florida and Louisiana made land fall in 2005. It caused catastrophic damage and caused many fatalities. It is this type of event the federal government is meant to provide aide and safety. President George W. Bush would later admit that he “made a mistake” and “I took too long to decide” (npr.org). Michael Brown was the director of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was highly criticized for his inaction in dealing with helping hurricane victims, and was eventually forced to resign as a result (npr.org). In an op-ed Michael Brown said that “the federal government did not have the authority to unilaterally order the evacuation of New Orleans” (npr.org). He explained that he had asked president bush to ask state officials to evacuate the city but that the state officials “dallied”. Brown blamed Governor Blanco and City Mayor Nagin for the slow response. Blanco responded to this criticism by saying that “If FEMA had been able to deliver the buses that Mike Brown told me he had the ability to get instantly, … I kind of boil it down to this, if the buses had run on time, the trauma would not have existed” (npr.org).

In this example, because these different bureaucratic systems failed to run efficiently a lot of people suffered, and died. There was a lot of question as how Michael Brown was qualified to act as director of FEMA, and why it took the government so long to respond to the devastation in New Orleans. There are stories of private citizens lending aid faster than FEMA. In this example the bureaucratic failed. I hope the government learned from this catastrophe in order to prevent this same situation from happening again.


We The People, (Ginsberg, et.al.) 2017.

George W. Bush: I will never forget the ‘Misery and Ruin’ of Katrina (2015).

Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/08/28…

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