Monday, July 30, 2007

Bureaucrats versus Founding Fathers--Classic Quote

I highly recommend "Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution", by Charles Rappleye. The Browns of Providence RI were a prominent family of merchants--John traded in slaves and was a Congressman. Moses became a Quaker and an abolitionist and wrote a law regulating the slave trade which his brother was convicted of violating.

But from the bureaucratic standpoint, this quote, relating to the US Navy buying a ship from John Brown, shows the constraints that bureaucrats are always subject to:

pp313-4 "In ordering the purchase, Navy Secretary Benjamin Stoddert, a merchant in civilian life, agreed to John's price, but warned his agent, "Mr. Brown, who seems to be a complete master of the art of bargain-making, will probably ask more. You must do the best you can with him, and let the public be screwed as little as possible."

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