Monday, December 15, 2008

Optimal bureaucratic hassle

This week-end I had a conversation with a person complaining about the seemingly useless bureaucracy and hold times to obtain social assistance, and in that particular case unemployment insurance. He then went on railing against those inefficient bureaucrats. But what if they did that on purpose?

I am not saying that those civil servants have a manic pleasure at seeing all those applicants despair in their impatience. They rather follow rules within a system that purposely makes people wait and spend time applying for privileges. The bureaucratic hassle is essentially a discrimination tool. Indeed, those who really need help are those that have plenty of time on their hands (think unemployed) and can afford, even if they do not like it, to go through this hassle. But those, for example, who already have a job and try to defraud the unemployment insurance system will not want to go through the hassle, or at least they will be discouraged to do so.

Monitoring who can and who cannot obtain government services that are destined to the needy is difficult. Part of the bureaucracy is about monitoring, but it also has this added side effect that it allows people to self-select. Those who do not need help will not bother.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are really taking the fun out of complaining about government inefficiency...