Ministry of Manipulation 5

My own (albeit short-lived) experience in the public sector teaches me that it does not take a very clever person to be a civil servant. An essential skill to acquire before joining civil service, however, is what I would call 'a way with words' - an ability to say things in a certain way that allows to avoid awkward questions. It is a useful skill for politicians, too.

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Recently, I have discovered the place in the Latvian public administration system where this skill has been taken to a new, entirely different level. That place is called the Secretariat of the Special Assignment Minister for Social Integration.

Take their very creative way of reporting the proposal expressed at the minister's meeting with NGOs yesterday. Of the representatives of about 10 NGOs that attended the meeting, one or two 'spontaneously' expressed their desire to see the Secretariat turn into a full-fledged ministry. Indeed, if one thinks of it - after the Secretariat's staff has grown from about 15 to above 60 in the last 4 years, what could be the next step to burden the taxpayers a little bit further? Neither the visibility nor the impact of policies implemented and developed by the Secretariat has increased substantially during these years. That is, however, beside the point. What matters, is the fact that today Latvian news agencies let us all know that during the minister's meeting with the NGOs, ''NGOs have expressed a wish to see the Secretariat gain the status of a ministry". Needless to say, the names of the NGOs represented at the meeting were neatly given in the next paragraph, thus turning us all into passive supporters of the proposal.

It is, perhaps, a fairly ordinary case of spin. Unfortunately, it is by no means the only example of manipulation in the Secretariat's communication with the public. Civil society representatives included in work groups designing controversial policy programmes get 'incidentally' ommitted from mailing lists of the groups, and public discussions of policy documents are limited to the bare minimum. Many human rights activists and researchers know the sad story of the amendments to the National Programme for the Promotion of Tolerance, which disappeared somewhere half-way between the Cabinet and the Council for Spiritual Affairs (which had no right to pass binding resolutions on the document in the first place).

I am not certain if we will have a Ministry of Integration one day, and even less certain if we need one. It does look, however, that we already have a Ministry of Manipulation.

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Komentāri (5) secība: augoša / dilstoša

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Parson 22.11.2008 11:27
They will be liquidated anyhow so should not matter that much. www.wiihomebrew.com Power games and spin is the way the politics are - no surprises there.

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Ryan Mellors 26.04.2008 01:16
I run the ministry of manipulation
www.ministryofmanipulation.com

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Sceptical person 07.04.2008 10:59
:) i also have got smaall experience in this institution. I tried to participate in Secretariat proposed competition for project manager vacancy. And they invited me to interview and then canceled me next interview, because i am too young for this post :) and consequently do not have enough experience :)) Good! It was written in the letter from Ministry of "AntiDiscrimination" But the most interesting thing was that interviewers (public servants) were younger than me :) I do not believe more in the words of integration, tolerance and patience..This words are not for Secretariat ;)

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Pēteris 27.02.2008 17:23
I think it is tragic if a governmental agency (be it a Ministry or a Secretariat) dares to lie so bluntly and (so primitively). It is, indeed, miserable and repugnant behaviour, not at all appropriate for a public institution.

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Rednekk ar flint 27.02.2008 09:26
> Civil society representatives included in work groups designing controversial policy programmes
> get 'incidentally' ommitted from mailing lists of the groups

Thet be jest fahn, ah reckon. Fo' them representatives of Jedidiah Soros's money -- an' Lo'd only knows who else -- better stay outta business us citizens elecked our representatives t'conduck. Otherwise corntrovahsial policy programmes git choke full of multi this, o'ientashun thet stuff, an' thet is not th' way Trin an' ah like 'em. We elecked representatives t'write us straight talkin', straight f*****', country moosic lovin' programmes, Ma'am. An' eff'n representatives won't write them programmes, Ma'am, future junerashuns won't knows them - th' impo'tant thin's in life, an' they won't knows prosperity, an' they won't knows th' freedom. Instead, they will knows fear; they will knows sadness; they will knows injestice; they will knows upheaval, an' they will knows despair all aroun' 'em, Ma'am.

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