Monday, October 8, 2018

The Peter Principle in Politics

One of the most unique books I've ever encountered is the Peter Principle. As I remember it saying in the introduction, it kind of defied any specific category or genre. Was it humor or meant to be taken seriously? Was it about social science, business, self-help, or what? It was kind of all those things. What the Peter Principle says is this: People tend to rise to their own level of incompetence.

Which is basically true. Think about it. People get promoted until they don't deserve to get promoted anymore. So after a while, you can imagine what this means ... everyone in a promotional hierarchy becomes incompetent. Of course people retire and there's going to be some amount of turnover as people move away, get sick or die for some reson, but barring those things the natural tendency for any such organization is towards a growing level of incompetence.

I read this book as a child because I thought it was funny. There were cartoons in it and it attempted to explain "the big picture" of an organization with pithy formulas that a socially backward kid like me could appreciate.

Is that what happened to American politics? I don't think so because what's going on with those guys has more to do with criminality and corruption than honest-to-goodness incompetence. But in a way, criminality and corruption do represent some form of incompetence, don't they?

At any rate both theories present a good argument for term limits.

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