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Apathy and Government

Analysts have observed an increase among the electorate in both apathy and disaffection toward all levels of government. People have always complained about the bureaucracy they have to face when they have business with the government. They have always criticized programs which did not work and spending they feel is misdirected. They have also always been aware of governmental corruption and at times have been more or less willing to accept it as a given if not to tolerate it. In recent years, though, ethical questions have become more important as the public has become fed up with lapses in their bureaucratic structure. The perception is that government is beset by gridlock, incompetence, and corruption, and people have little patience with the corruption in particular. What is sought is a model of "bureaucratic responsibility" to deal with this issue and to set in place mechanisms which will guard against ethical lapses and cope with those that are found. There is widespread public concern about the power of big government and about the potential for the abuse of administrative discretion. This has produced the effort to limit discretion, based on the view that the proper working of a democracy is to reduce discretionary government so that the government only does what the people want it to do.

Of course, government includes both an elected component and the bureaucracy that functions as the implementing mechanism for policy. Curtailing discretion for both has been a difficult undertaking. Max Weber offered a comprehensive theory of bureaucracy and analyzed the types of bureaucracy he could see in his time and the characteristics of each, and in so doing he showed that different bureaucracies had more in common than they were different:

Max Weber said that the great virtue of bureaucracy--indeed, perhaps its defining characteristic--was that it was an institutional method for applying general rules to specific cas...

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Apathy and Government. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:53, October 24, 2014, from