Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Putting foxes in charge of the henhouse

Echidne is reporting on the changes to hiring practices within the civil rights sections of the US Justice Department:

If you can't get rid of a division you hate, just fill it with people who hate it every bit as much as you do

...or at least people who are inexperienced and likely to make mistakes.

According to the Boston Globe:

Now, hiring is closely overseen by Bush administration political appointees to Justice, effectively turning hundreds of career jobs into politically appointed positions.

Out of 45 lawyers hired since 2003 in three especially civil rights oriented sections of the DoJ:

  • 10, or 22%, have civil rights experience

  • 9, or 20%, have a background in fighting against civil rights lawsuits or policies

  • the remaining 26 (58%) have no civil rights experience

Overall, hirings with civil rights backgrounds have fallen from 77% to just 42% since 2003.

Sometimes I ask myself how governments can be so incompetent. The truth is often more sinister: government-managed programmes often fail because failure is deliberately designed into them from the start as a means to an end. Who hasn't ever been tempted to do a shoddy job of something so that you don't get asked to do it again? This is the same, only writ large. If the DoJ can't (or won't) do a good job of protecting civil rights, well, you have all the advantages of being able to make speeches about rights and none of the disadvantages of actually having to give them any more than lip-service.

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