John Livingston

Corruption or Purnell’s Law

As organizations evolve from inception, through incubation, and then to maturity, the creative energy of the entrepreneur and the explorer is often times replaced by a middle manager who is more concerned with maintaining the status quo or market share. Sometimes middle managers become CEOs. We see this happening around us every day. The small businessman or farmer trying to find and even create a market for goods and services, a private school just starting up trying to find a unique niche in the field of education either fails—creative destruction or succeeds and evolves in a different way that what was envisioned by its founders. Bicycles turned into airplanes for the Wright brothers and a civil engineering company that was founded on distributing water in the Western US States turned into a worldwide company that rebuilt the Middle East and the rest of the world after World War II. And then Morrison and Knutson was run into the ground by Bill Agee who was more concerned with schmoozing Hollywood and political elites than he was with building roads and dams.

Leadership in an organization also is constantly evolving and not always for the good. I recently was reminded by a friend of mine in a Facebook post of Purnell’s Law of Bureaucracy, so I looked up Jerry Purnell who was a NASA Engineer, worked in several administrations in Washington DC and was a prolific writer in the engineering world, science fiction and business. I was also reminded of several conversations I had with a teaching colleague of mine Dr. Richard Schering who is a NASA Flight Physician and sits on many boards evaluating potential astronaut candidates. I remember my uncle Joe Gaskill who was a Navy test pilot who “flew in the desert” with Chuck Yeager and Alan Shephard. The ideal astronaut then is today not what NASA is looking for. The early pioneers in space were test pilots and risk takers—though they were very careful to define and minimize their risks which if not mitigated appropriately would mean their own life being place in jeopardy. Today’s astronauts are a different breed. Many PHDs and academicians, very few are pilots or aeronautical engineers. The mission has changed and not always in the right direction with the right leadership. Space is looked at as a means to an end instead of as an end unto itself. And this is where Mission creep” and Purnell’s Law comes into play.

Purnell’s Law in a nutshell: “Purnell’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people.”

“First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

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Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers’ union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.”

As we look at our political institutions in both Washington DC and Idaho I believe we are seeing Purnell’s Law play out. I want to be very clear that when I criticize the positions of politicians like Brad Little, Mike Crapo, and Mike Simpson, I am not attacking them personally, though I do hold them personally accountable for being more dedicated to the organization of government than they are to their principles or to the principles of the people they have been representing for year—after year—after year. Jim Risch does not fall into this group though he has not been as vocal and even outspoken as I would like in denouncing progressive ideologies in DC—Why did he vote for the $1.8 trillion Infrastructure Bill for example? The majority of our RINO Republican State politicians belong to the second group of people described above and it is precisely because of this that the system has become corrupted.

The relationship of the State Department of Education and the teachers Unions has been a nidus of corruption in our State for years. Policies are promulgated like Critical Race Theory (CRT) and put into our public schools without even a debate in our legislature or a review by The State Board of Education. Collusion between the Teachers Union and the State is the bases for the distrust that most people have regarding the management of K-12 education and State Universities today.

The State Board of Medicine recently promulgated—who leaked the story to the press on this one— an action against Dr, Ryan Cole who has impeccable credentials—including training in clinical pathology and virology from the Mayo Clinic, because his professional opinion regarding Covid=19 mitigation and treatment are at odds with the “clinical standards of care” promulgated by the various health districts and the Governor’s Advisory Council. Nobody in any other the State or County organizations has Dr. Cole’s credentials. The action was signaled several weeks earlier by an opinion piece by Mr. (Dr.) Jim Jones in a Magic Valley newspaper Opinion piece and was restated by the CEO of St. Luke’s in an interview with Audrey Dutton when he said and I paraphrase, that there are ways of taking care of recalcitrant health care workers—including doctors—three weeks before the complaint was released!

Even Mr. (DR) Jones admits in his article that there is nothing in the Medical or Professional Practices statutes that defines medical practice to include the scope of practice to offering an opinion or writing an article that is contrary to conventional thought?

Furthermore a cause for legal action in a court would require not the violation of a “standard of care” defined by a clinical standard promulgated from a government agency, but rather a violation of “the standard of practice”—what is actually done in a community.

Like so many other State Agencies the State Board of Medicine has operated with little input from a Deputy Attorney General, but has many times in critical complicated situations operated with “outside legal counsel” This is actually a practice that gained full steam under then Attorney General Mr. (DR) Jim Jones. I would be interested in the input that the AG in our State gave to the State Board of Medicine prior to their acting against Dr. Cole. I know that in at least one other State—Nebraska, The State Attorney General gave an opinion that would have been very favorable to Dr. Cole’s positions regarding hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin—that opinion can be seen below. I have agreed with Dr. Cole’s position 90% of the time—I and my family are all vaccinated, but what has happened to him is a perfect example of corruption and collusion between corporate medicine in our state and a state agency.

Just like President Trump tried to do in DC, we must try to do in Idaho. These people have been participants in corruption and collusion for several decades. It is so ubiquitous that they don’t even see corruption for what it is. They are decent people with good families, but they have allowed many little corruptions to turn into big corruptions. The politicians and lobbyists who have been leveraging their political muscles at the expense of everyday voters need to be held to account. The only reconciliation I can see is to vote them out.

When politicians are married more to the political process than they are to the ideals of the people they represent they are more than an example of “Purnell’s Law”. They are corrupt.

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