Sunday, December 01, 2019

Our own Mandarins

Fourth and Long
Qing … for a Millenium
Our own Mandarins
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Ah, yes, the rain was welcome.
            A total of 2.7” was dumped out of the gauge at the headquarters with about .6” being a carryover from the previous ten days and the remainder a blessing of Thanksgiving.
It’s wet.
            The first of the big rain fell starting at noon on Wednesday. We were trying to finish installing two additional solar panels on the rack at our new well with the intent, and the design, to put water into a 40,000-gallon storage sitting over a mile from and 300 feet above the well head. The four panels already in place weren’t producing enough oomph to get the job done. The shortfall was certainly a design error but casting stones didn’t put water in the tank and the additional panels were the only solution. The question remains. Will this be enough, or will it take another two panels to get the job done? The government auditor who reviewed the reviewer calculated more than two would be required, but the pump technical provider concluded more than two panels would not produce any more water than the design of the pump was intended.
            So, we stirred up some cowboy logic, finessed the expansion of rack space for additional panels, and stood there and admired our finished work as the rain hit us in the face.
            The problem is we still don’t know what the result will be. It has largely been overcast since the rain started, the road to the well is reminiscent of what we assume a swamp looks like, and the Thanksgiving festivities were a good excuse to keep the fire stoked.
            Ah, yes, the rain was welcome.
            Fourth and Long
            There has been a lot of discussion about the Fourth Estate the past several weeks.
            That, of course, was manifested in spades during the impeachment hearings when the Chairman’s party sang the praises in five-part harmony of the multigenerational bureaucrats’ service to these United States.
            My goodness, they are a talented lot of which we simply don’t have the means to measure. Indeed, spanning generations of priority entries through the front doors of finer institutions of government they have marched with their broader understanding of how things actually work in a democratic republic. They have even carved out a complete working subset of democracy that they manage and perpetuate beyond the actual manipulation of the masses.
            They are important!
            The little secret has been we just didn’t know how important they were. Out here in the hinterlands, we spend too much of our time eating chile con carne, castrating missed calves standing up in the chute, and sweating profusely to realize the most important things.
The bottom line is just missed!
 How dare this president get in the way of their important policy work, work that they, themselves, are only authorized to perfect and manage. Why, their Yale education and their family continuity starting back with their grandfathers’ tenure gives them a full ticket to managing the business affairs of this great nation.
            It gives them the earned right to wear bow ties, wire rimmed glasses, and smug looks. It also constitutes first class bookings, locks and bagels for breakfast, and friends in the Hamptons. Us minions just don’t have a proper appreciation nor the imagination of knowing just how important they are.
            Our own Mandarins
            The United States, though, isn’t alone in the arrival of generationally tenured Fourth Estate bureaucrats.
            The Chinese have perhaps the best historical record of the Fourth Estate. It wasn’t just the most recent dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, that it was manifested, either (although there are arguments suggesting that the governmental constipation the bureaucrat load created actually ushered in the modern Chinese revolution which gave way to their modern-day communists).
            Bureaucrats, most notably the Mandarins, have been a Chinese institution of long standing. Known for their language, they were a class of hand-picked individuals that were schooled for the purpose of instituting (not actually ruling) government. Variously, they were first picked by local officials to represent local interests, but increasingly they were picked by the central government to act on behalf of the national interests.
            This was particularly true in the Qing dynasty that finally ended last century. In that era, no man was allowed to serve in his home district and officials were rotated every three years in order to protect against the centralization of power among the bureaucratic class. The recruitment exams were extensive and divided into three steps representing higher levels of prestige and power. The first level was a cleansing of the peon class known as cultivated talent. The second was a step upwards with the ending result known as the recommended man. If the old boy was really a government man, he might be considered for the top rung of bureaucratic fame and became a full fledged jinshi and given a ticket to the big show in Beijing where he exerted mucho power with a life time appointment to create policy and compose orders to the masses.
            The little kicker in the old days, though, was pretty profound. Most of the top rung characters were eunuchs. It seems the aristocracy didn’t want intact yes men spending their nights in the palaces with their women and children nor did they want them creating future generation bureaucrats with ideas about multigenerational power plays.
            So, they castrated them!
            But, alas, even castrating ruling bureaucrats didn’t solve the riddle of eliminating corruption in government. The Qings went down ostensibly due to the inability to adapt to economic transition and, of course, inevitable and imbedded corruption. The system was dismantled, and that entire civil service institution was ended in the overthrow of the ruling class in 1911.
            What had been in place for a millennium was eliminated.
            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since the U.S. Civil Service system (aka bureaucrats) is patterned after the Mandarin system of China then I think we should follow it to a tee and start castrating the bureaucrats.