Hamish wya there’s four people in here
If you really want to learn about this in a ton of detail and spend hours and hours reading about it, look at Dominic Cummings’s Substack and previous essays. Also his interview before parliament is good on the UK’s handling of covid: https://youtu.be/8LFS3FaRs_s
He was Boris Johnson’s chief advisor and actually espouses a lot rationalist/EA ideals, he reads a lot of rationalist aligned stuff etc, so it’s quite instructive to have a view into British bureaucracy through him.
From what I’ve read the main impression I get is that the quantity bureaucracy maximises for is… status quo. Keeping things however they are no matter the consequences is clearly the goal of much of the state, even at great human, material, monetary, and time cost. This is why there are no long term goals in government, why there are constant catastrophic failures with no change, and why getting the right people in the right positions is nigh on impossible.
I can’t find it atm but there’s a quote from Cummings when he worked in the Department of Education and was trying to bring about change, where a senior official said to him “you’re a mutant virus, and I’m the immune system trying to keep you out” or something along those lines.
Bureaucracies resist change at all levels and at all costs.
Seconded! If you really want to learn about this read Cummings’s Substack and previous essays.
And that’s really more like 6% after you take in account the lizardman constant.