Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: Your comment about the building inspector who was “consumed with the zeal of high office” was so “spot on” and could be used in many situations. Many of us have dealt with variations of this person. Thanks for the smile it gave me. Mary Ann

Dear Mary Ann: A common problem with bureaucratic systems is that they tend to promote employees to their various levels of inefficiency. Once they reach the level at which they no longer do good work, they cease to be promoted. Instead, they remain in those positions until the day of retirement because most governmental systems preclude the likelihood of demotion or of being fired. Additionally, government employment can be a place of refuge for those whose talents are insufficient for the competitive demands of the marketplace. Bureaucracies also attract managers whose faulty decision making processes render them unacceptable to private employers whose main concern is customer satisfaction and a lucrative bottom line.

It should be emphasized, however, that not all bureaucrats are of this low caliber. There are many highly qualified people who also find themselves in government employment. But the percentage of sour apples in the bureaucratic barrel seems higher than one is likely to find in private business.