#039;Peter Principle#039; explains much about our government

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2005

The "Peter Principle" is the theory that organizations advance people one step beyond their highest level of competency, where they then remain, functioning at a level of incompetence.

Perhaps you have known someone who represents the "Peter Principle." Of course, these folks didn't promote themselves to positions beyond their capacity, so we can't blame them for being there.

They are the individuals who often have the "deer in the headlight" look all the time.

Email newsletter signup

I recently had opportunity to re-consider the "Peter Principle" while listening to Michael Brown, ex-FEMA Director, testify before a congressional committee.

Michael may not quite fit the profile however, having been promoted several levels beyond his capabilities, but he still reminded me of others who may qualify.

So, here is my current list of candidates for what I would propose as candidates for the first annual "PP" awards:

4Tom DeLay. Tom, known as "The Hammer" for his forcefulness in aligning Republican House members to vote together has been ethically "challenged" since his arrival in congress. Over the last few years he has been awarded more ethical reprimands from the House Ethics Committee than any other member, ever.

And he is currently open to yet another ethical reprimand from the committee (should it ever actually meet) over his relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Wednesday Tom was indicted in Texas for charges of money laundering.

4Bill Frist, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate. Bill, a possible future candidate for president sold his stock in the family business HMA, a health care network created by his dad a mere two weeks before it reported a sharp earning's decline that dropped the stock value 16 percent in one day.

Bill had this stock in a blind trust that wasn't quite blind. He actually directed the sell order himself. Bill claims that he had no insider information about the company. It was his intention to sell the stock to avoid a possible conflict of interest over his Senate role.

Oddly, he has been in the Senate since 1994 and only in 2005 found the conflict of interest, and then only two weeks before a stock drop. Odd coincidence Bill.

4Donald Rumsfeld. Absolutely no prediction made by the Secretary of Defense regarding Iraq has ever been accurate. From troop strength needed in the field to delivery of armored humvees to body armor, Rummy has never gotten it right Š not once, not ever. His defense? Things happen. Who knew?

4George Tenet. As director of the CIA George managed to get every single detail of the Iraq pre-invasion intelligence wrong. His punishment? George was awarded the Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.

4Dick Durbin, senator from Illinois. Dick made the always impossible comparison between U.S. handling of prisoner of war practices against Nazi WW II practices. OK, Dick, we are seriously mishandling how we handle prisoners in this war, and violating the Geneva Conventions Š no doubt. But your rhetoric was way out of bounds.

4Howard Dean. Howard, Howard, Howard. Where do I begin? Do you actually believe that being a Republican makes one an evil human being? Howard, words matter. You need to know this.

4Billy Tauzin. Billy resigned his U.S. House chairmanship of the commerce committee immediately after completing a bill that became law prohibiting the U.S. government for negotiating prescription drug prices with manufacturers.

Billy immediately accepted a position with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) a group who significantly benefited from the legislation. Nice deal Billy.

Well, that's my first list. If you wish to add other candidates e-mail me, I'll gladly expand the nominations.

Dr. Jim Crawford is an administrator at Ohio University Southern. He can be reached at drjim893@msn.com.