13 April 2007

A Bureaucrat's Lament

The longer I work for a federal regulatory agency, the more I sympathise with the SCA Board of Directors.

I don't agree with them all the time of course. But I sympathise.

Human beings, in general, like rules. They like rules that will protect them, ensure they're treated fairly, reward the virtuous and punish the wicked.

The problem is that no two human beings agree with each other on every point of those things. What is fair? What is virtuous? How much protection do we want? What punishments are suitable for which degrees of wickedness? This means that making rules is hard, and the people who are tasked with trying to make rules are usually abused and insulted for it. I recently reviewed comments on a rule proposed by my agency which included remarks to the effect that if the agency employees weren't all traitors to the country, we were at least all idiots.

A great deal of the recent foo-fa-rah on the kingdom list about the BoD proposal to require background checks for members who work with children in official capacity within the organisation reminded me of the stuff that comes in over FDMS.

Healthy debate is good. Questions, critiques, and suggestions are all useful. The people proposing rules are just people, and it's likely they haven't thought of everything. But it's frustrating as all hell to put forward a solution to a difficult situation and then have the abuse pour in from people who, one suspects, have neither read the proposal in its entirety nor taken time to consider the big picture beyond 'you're trying to ruin our fun' (or 'destroy us economically' or 'pander to [special interest group]' or whatever).

Will a requirement that people who interact with children in an official capacity in the organisation undergo criminal background checks be a pain in the neck? Sure. I had to undergo such a check when I started teaching and it was a nuisance to fill out the forms, go to the state police barracks on the one day a week they process such forms, get fingerprinted, and all the rest of it. And yes, I had to pay for it, and no, I did not get reimbursed.

(FWIW, though, it was no bigger a hassle than my background check when I started working for the government -- maybe even less of one. While I can't remember the cost, it wasn't so much that it made my tight finances any the worse).

On the other paw, I am pretty sure it would be an even greater pain in the neck to have (gods forbid) a child abused or molested by a minister of children or adult officer in the pages' academy and have the parents sue the SCA because the organisation was negligent in allowing someone with a criminal record serve in one of those offices.

1 comment:

  1. Could be worse. I had to not only get a background check and be fingerprinted by the police but *also* take an oath of loyalty to the state constitution, just to coach rowing for a city program. And that was coaching adults, though I did later coach juniors (high school age) for a little while.


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