The Other McCain

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Hacking Our Way To Smaller Government

Posted on | August 6, 2011 | 6 Comments

by Smitty

Via Insty, MIT’s Technology Review points to a McAfee article about governments getting hacked.

The attacks stretch back almost five years, and ranged in duration from one month to 28 months. They affected 32 types of organizations, including government agencies and defense, construction, information technology, and accounting firms.

McAfee believes the attacks were orchestrated by a nation-state, but it has not named that country.

I won’t hazard a guess, but if I had to, I’d throw out some place whose name rhymes with ‘vagina’.

This post will argue that the threat of hacking is the second greatest thing, after elections, for trimming the irrationally exhuberant growth of government. You see, when it comes to implementing the Iron Law of Bureaucracy what you see is increasingly deep hierarchies. The org charts go on for days. Organizations are all about controlling information flow, setting up patronage relationships where certain boxes on the org chart are choke points. People in the boxes control information to store up power and breed their own bureaucracies, in the fashion of a jungle.

Bureaucracy expands to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.–Oscar Wilde

Well crafted information systems are Agent Orange to the bureaucratic jungle. Transparent, flat, unambiguous, reliable information delivered by software renders all that peopleware in the org chart completely moot. When the data are readily available, more work is accomplished, and it’s all over but the retirement party for the bureaucratic deadwood.

Which is precisely why the bureaucracy is fighting so hard to entrench. Arguably the most detestable example is Nancy Pelosi on ObamaCare:

“But we have to pass the [health care ] bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

No, you Botox-addled bimbo, that is precisely the opposite of the desired result.

And hacking is precisely, if illegally, what is going to drive the Pelosis out. The capacity to blow smoke up the public backside is diminished when email and websites spread the perfidy far and wide. Hacking off government fingers will prove a harsh, but effective, way of keeping them out of the economic pie. The government is going to be forced to focus on legitimate, core functions, and perform them more more transparently, as more and more data leak out. Government hasn’t been forced to conduct public business in a forthright manner, but increasing attention from taxpayers is going to drive precisely that. When people are asking questions, the simplest, most honest approach becomes the most defensible.

One real avenue for improvement along these lines will be the tax code. If the threat of exposure for private information is significant enough, maybe we’ll get around to the idea that income tax really sucks, and set about funding government through less intrusive means. Making the formulae for calculating tax burdens more transparent and public would seem an obvious improvement. The notion that we’re paying for service through taxation, but not privileged to see the business rules, is baffling. If I buy an application from Microsoft, and their proffered license hides the source code from me, well, fine: there are other vendors. Government, not so much. We need to amend this attitude that the Government regularly says ‘no’ to taxpayers without a national security basis for saying no.

So, while I’m not encouraging illegal activity, I’m saying that hacking will not be without positive side-effects for liberty.


6 Responses to “Hacking Our Way To Smaller Government”

  1. Mike
    August 6th, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

    Good article Smitty. I think you nailed it. As long as we have a tax code that’s tens of thousands of pages long, we’ll never get out of this morass of bureaucratic bullshit. 

  2. Hacking Our Way To Smaller Government « That Mr. G Guy's Blog
    August 6th, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

    […] Hacking Our Way To Smaller Government. […]

  3. Quartermaster
    August 6th, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

    A flat income tax, with no loopholes, just dependent deductions, is the way to go. The entire return is a 3×5 index card or, even better, done on line.

    The reason it won’t happen is that it would result in too much dead wood that would have to go. Productivity has risen with the advent of micro-computers, but that additional productivity has been sucked up by government agencies that add nothing of value, and suck wealth.

  4. Anonymous
    August 7th, 2011 @ 4:06 am

    Then maybe it will seem even funnier when we give them the choice to be fired…. or fired upon.