American Elephants


The Y2K Bug, Seventeen Years Later, Still Filing Reports. by The Elephant's Child

Much has been written about the evils of bureaucracy and the administrative state. President Trump is fully on board with that, but his latest effort to whittle down the bureaucracy and the unnecessary and illogical regulation involved provided an excellent illustration. Seventeen years ago, it was believed that at the turn of the century computers would not be able to cope with the change from 1999 to 2000. They called it the Y2K Bug. It came with a rule that required them to continue to provide updates on their preparedness for coping with the bug. And they still are faithfully providing them.

In another case, the Pentagon was required to file a report every time a small business vendor is paid, a task that consumed some 1,200 man-hours every year. You can absolutely assume that every federal office and agency has some silly requirement like that, which consumes time and effort more fruitfully devoted to more important tasks. Often everybody knows that it’s a waste of time, but in a bureaucracy it’s hard to get the attention of the person needed to make the change. President Trump has initiated a “War on Waste,” which targets 59 obsolete projects. Imagine a huge spider web, with one strand near the middle that keeps vibrating uncontrollably.

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