Modern Government Philosophers

Funny story written by George Fripley

Friday, 13 November 2009

The third and last installment of the Government Philosopher series looks at present-day experts on how government works. These people have built on the work of philosophers of the past and added a modern flavour. All of these four people are still making contributions to the advancement of the government system.

Annie Portner-Storum (1965 - present)

An experienced Minister Ms Porter-Storum is one of the foremost politicians in her country. She has recently written a handbook for the modern politician who aspires to become a minister.

Ms Portner-Storum has been held numerous portfolios within the Extraenian government, but has never aspired to be the Prime Minister, citing the job as being equivalent to being the sacrifice used to try to get a better crop in a drought situation. She has been Minister for Extraneous Affairs, Minister for Mentoring Junior Ministers, Minister for Deflecting the Blame, and Minster for Minister's Interests.

Many junior politicians have gained significant advantages through reading her book - What, Where, Why, Who am I and Who's to Blame? She has, however, steadfastly refused to acknowledge authorship of the book, suggesting that it is a vicious attempt at slurring her name…something she often does herself after a couple of hours in the parliamentary bar. Some of the more notable suggestions include:

Never apologise when you have a whole department able to take the blame for you.

Learn to provide soothing and superficially meaningful responses in times of crisis. This will buy you time to deflect the blame to a more suitable location -your predecessor, the previous government or your department. It doesn't really matter where the blame goes, as long as it goes.

If a minister changes direction often enough they will end up back in the relative comfort of where they started.

Make bold statements with no basis in fact. It's a lot of fun watching the public service and the general public try to make sense of them.

A minister should never make decisions that will stand the test of time. A minister should always ensure that the same issues will crop up for the next minister. It's only polite.

Sir Roger de Enwharey (1957 - present)

Sir Roger de Enwharey is a founding partner in the well-respected public relations company - de Enwharey, Koppett & Suffa. Sir Roger has been contracted numerous to run election campaigns in numerous countries throughout the world, and has a greater than 80% record in receiving payment for his services. A self-confessed cynic who sold his soul to advertising at the tender age of seventeen, he has made it his business to understand how messages can be best communicated to the general public without them being conscious of the facts. He is of the opinion that manipulation of the population is an art that needs consummate attention to detail, and that it should not be attempted by those with morals or ethics.

De Enwharey, Koppett & Suffa have previously conducted successful campaigns that managed to convince people that politicians are underpaid, that politicians spend far too much time in parliament, and that all those who earn under 100K per year should not be allowed to vote. Sir Roger is currently working with a government (which he cannot name for legal reasons) to produce a strategy to guarantee their re-lection. This involves demonisation of minorities, increasing taxes on the disabled, and a hard-line against the homeless. When interviewed, Sir Roger offered the following advice to those thinking of entering the political public relations industry:

Promote a politician not on what he has achieved, but on what his opposite number has not achieved.

A clear vision and sincerity are not enough for an election campaign, it must also involve significant deceit and be staffed with people with the morals of an alley cat on heat, or it will fail.

Hypocrisy in the speeches, the arrogance of the barefaced lie, and the contempt in which they hold the public. The HAC method is the foundation of a well run campaign.

Political life is divided into three terms - that which was promised, that which is actually delivered, and that which will remain believable for the next election.

Tell people they need more debt, more lollies, more mod cons, whatever seems appropriate, and denounce those who disagree as being unpatriotic and exposing the country to recession, danger, or ridicule. It works the same in any country.

C.D. Sinnick (1945 - present)

A famous American public servant, C.D. Sinnick has spent his whole working life in the public service. He joined as an eighteen year old and has never looked back. He is current head of the Department of Deficient Forward Planning. He credits his success to the education he received from Elwood B. Bettar, one of the trailblazers in the public service. Sinnick is not a well-known official, however he has had great influence in the reforming of the government bureaucracy in recent years. He has ensured that, as times change, public servants have the right approach to deal with the new issues that arise. Many government employees have been grateful for his annual desk calendar that includes useful mantras to keep motivation levels high.

There is always someone worse off than me, so I should be grateful that I can work to keep them that way.

I believe that every hour is precious and should not be wasted. Each hour provides time for my clients / stakeholders to worry about the decisions that I have no intention of making.

In the event of a crisis, be ready make the most of your personal grudges.

If one learns but does not think, one is suited to government. If one thinks but does not learn, one's government career will be imperiled.

A bureaucrat should be slow to speak and even slower to act.

Professor Livinia Lye (1956 - present)

Livinia Lye spent ten years working in the public service before she took up an academic post. She wanted to carry out research and apply her experience to the education of others. After gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bureaucratic Administration BA(BA), she went on to complete a PhD - Governance and Administration: the engine room of a successful bureaucracy.

Professor Lye is currently working at the Non Compos Mentis University, a small but highly regarded institution in Italy. She has spent a great deal of time studying how public servants deal with the Minister that they are charged with serving. She has a keen interest in the early 'classic' government philosophers and has built on their work in relation to the five paradigms. She specialises in how these paradigms can be applied in the modern bureaucracy.

The specific area that she has addressed is the production of correspondence that the Minister will sign, as well as how to properly brief Ministers about matters of interest to them.

On writing briefing notes to the Minister:-

The art of writing a briefing note is to not fully inform the Minister about the issue at hand, but rather give enough information that the Minister realises that there is a lot work still to be done before any government policy direction can be safely announced.

Exclude any definite course of action, as this is likely to lead to ministerial policy officers making huge 'leaps' in the dark and insisting that decisions are made quickly.

On writing letter on behalf of the Minister:-

The structure of the letter should be a maximum of four paragraphs with the clear statement that the Minister understands their concerns but really doesn't want to waste his time worrying about them when someone else has already shown the initiative to start worrying.

The ultimate aim of the letter is give the impression that matters are in hand and that the government is currently addressing the issue in one way or another, without actually detailing what is being done (in the unlikely event that anything is actually being done).

On press releases:-

When the Minister of their office gets hold of a press release prior to its finalisation, many new and interesting facts will spring to light.

The funny story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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