Do not believe that I am referring to the number of pages of the European Telephone Guide. It is something that produces a widespread harassing and that also competes in boredom with the continuous hammering of names, surnames and telephone numbers.
In the Deanery’s room of the Law Faculty that I have to visit on a daily basis, all the Official State Bulletins of the last few years can be found. I was suddenly curious to notice the number of pages published each year that represent a clear index of the dimensions of the legal labyrinth of norms, ordinances and resolutions that invade us in one way or another and affect us. The figure surprised me: 45,112 in only one year and 398,169 pages of B.O.E.(Spanish Official Gazette) in the ten years of socialist government.
It gives the impression that the previous bureaucratic inertia has accelerated in such a way in this socialist decade, that it is worrying the complicated life is becoming for run of the mill people. Such a complication becomes especially patent in the growing difficulty to travel through the elephantine labyrinth of the pettifogging lawyer psychosis that wants to know, control and decide almost everything.
Although I am not particularly very fanatical about the exaltation of figures that is usually habitual in many politicians and economists, I recognize that on occasions the pragmatism of numbers reflects many implicit realities if they are observed and studied with a certain rigour and imagination in the concrete socio-economic context. There are times that certain figures become a silent scream addressed to the whole of society. Something like that has happened with the 3 millions 537 thousand stopped in the second trimester of 1995, or with the 3,648,000 in the first trimester. I believe I can guess, with minimum economic logic, that the annual figures of the B.O.E. pages have a direct cause-effect relationship with the dramatic unemployment situation.
From the economic point of view, the Spanish case turns out to be a paradigmatic example of carrying out to the letter the theories about bureaucracy framed in the environment of the theories on Public Election. According to these studies, among which those of Tullock and Niskanen stand out, there is an absence of real competition by bureaucratic authorities, overproduction of public goods and services motivated by them, bureaucratic vanity that in order to present a more brilliant and spectacular administration fights for a more and more ample budget, and the fact that the different departments give services gratuitously to the consumers, with which these cannot influence directly on the behaviour of those. All this leads to the consistent general recognition in that the assignment and use of social resources presents an inferior efficiency to those of the market. Moreover, maximization of general interest is carried out in function of the conception that the bureaucrats have of the citizens’ objectives and preferences and of the common well-being.
A fundamental, and in turn dangerous criteria, of the theories on behaviour of the bureaucracy refers to the practically null effectiveness of control systems on this type of state authorities. This is because the necessary information to carry out this inspection has to be contributed by the ones being controlled, which is the same as saying that it is biased in favour of high ranking bureaucracy and the ruling politicians that direct and guide it. It is also explained in these theoretical conceptions that, since citizens tend to act in a corporate way as beneficiaries of the state kindness, they will pressurise much more in this aspect than in the dilute role of taxpayers. This widespread behaviour results in the excessive increment in growth of the public sector. In addition, the greater the increment of the state sector, the greater are the possibilities for it to grow even more. The increase in number of officials and important positions and the 398,169 pages of the B.O.E. confirm this.
JJ Franch Menéu
Gaceta de los Negocios, Monday May 31st 1993