The Coyote says he likes this passage:
There's a naive tendency to believe that whatever a government agency's mission is supposed to be, is really the mission that its people pursue. That's seldom the case for long.
Science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle, observing such things, has formulated what he calls the Iron Law of Bureaucracy: In every organization there are two kinds of people: those committed to the mission of the organization, and those committed to the organization itself. While the mission-committed people pursue the mission, the organization-committed people take over the organization. Then the mission-committed people tend to become discouraged and leave.
As a result, the strongest priority of most bureaucracies is the welfare of the bureaucracy and the bureaucrats it employs, not whatever the bureaucracy is actually supposed to be doing. That's worth remembering, whenever someone says they've found something else that we should "choose to do together."
This is not unique to government, but a rule for all organizations. However, in a private-sector, organizations that devolve in this way get slaughtered (except of course for crony favors and bailouts, but that is another topic). Accountability never ever comes to government organizations.
The land registry offices of Germany and England (the two countries where I have had personal dealings with such institutions) are doing just what they are supposed to be doing; they do it well, they are accountable internally and externally, which means that they can be effectively challenged via channels of informal settlement as well as legal action.
At the same time, a concomitant feature of misery the world over is a lack of precisely such well working bureaucracies as the land registry office.
Hence I sent this (now slightly edited) comment to the Coyote:
While it is simply not true that there is no accountability for bureaucracies, the proposed argument is by itself pertinent. But it suffers from the public choice syndrome, as I call it: It is not good enough to write a book about the zoology of the elephant that lists nothing but elephant diseases.
A vital deficiency in the standard arguments on this issue by my fellow libertarians consists in pointing out problems of state bureaucracies without offering explanations how and why they have evolved (as a pretty stable features of the state for thousands of years) and how to replace them with something better.
Libertarians will remain a fringe for ever unless they begin to realise that our social order depends on innumerable institutions (the state, bureaucracies, democracy etc.) that are naturally ambivalent (containing the good and the bad) and are prepared to deal with this ambivalence rather than wishing it away.
Libertarians like to talk about spontaneous order when it fits their preconceptions, but do not see spontaneous order where it evolves practices and institutions that do not fit a neat account of liberty. That's why, absurdly, the USA looks to (many of) them like a concentration camp.
The presumption that I challenge is that because an institution has typical or even systematic deficiencies, it must and it can be replaced by an unmitigated improvement. Once this presumption is admitted (really unthinkingly) care is no longer taken in looking at the manifold pluses and minuses of the institution in question, and the constraints on any solutions to the problems the institution has evolved to come to grips with ( - once again spontaneous order without guarantees of preferred outcomes). At this point, it is easy, even seemingly natural to paint the institution all black. This approach is hardly recommendable, as it is based on a severe truncation of the truth.
Hence, the above misrepresentations ("accountability never comes to government organizations", or the false insinuation that government bureaucracies rarely fulfil the tasks that they are entrusted with.
When it is convenient for the own case to argue so, many libertarians are quick to point out how government and its bureaucracies fulfill their satanic purposes with consummate efficiency. Totally dominating us, the state has been doing this for thousands of years, and it is more effective, stronger, nimbler on its feet than any other social forces.
Obviously, in actual fact, matters are far more intricate and often more balanced and indicative of genuine advancement. A bias that makes you deny genuine progress (or simply real conditions) is intolerable, no less in libertarians than in the left-leaning.
Liberty is not being helped by truncating the truth.
One of the key errors that fosters the libertarian presumption against ambivalent non-market insitutions is discussed in my post entitled The Market Is Not a Democracy.