The Art of Bureaucracy: The Pearl

The Pearl by the Washington Bureaucrat

The Pearl
Acrylic on Canvas (2013)

Unable to fire him thanks to red tape and a debilitating fear of confrontation, the agency (“oyster”) opts instead to isolate the irritant (“bureaucrat”) from the rest of the organism. By walling him off with cushy benefits (“resources”), over time the oyster creates a pearl. Some pearls have been known to idle away at their desks for decades with nary an assignment. In the era of LinkedIn, an occasional diver (“the private sector”) may purport to recognize the “value” of the pearl, at first stringing it along with a series of phone screens before dumping it back in the ocean with a promise to keep its resume on file.

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