Wealth ownership, the exercise of power, living in luxury on unearned income, add to overhead costs, but are accepted as respectable in civilized communities. Another and far less respectable form of social parasitism is the manipulation of social forces in a way that will bring the operator more than a fair share of social income with no equivalent in service. Such is “politics” or “politicising.” “Politics” as a source of livelihood takes many forms, some less legitimate than others.
The most usual source of office-holding is the humble work of the clerk, handyman or messenger, responsible for carrying out the nagging routine of government. Beyond this common labor of public service are public servants skilled in their several professions. Beyond and above them are department heads and still higher are the appointed or elected officials responsible for the success or failure of a given public policy.
Who are the occupants of town, city, state, and national positions of authority and responsibility? Preferably they are elected or appointed because of their popularity or are the successful product of civil service examinations. At worst they are appointed as a return for favors or else because they are relatives or friends of successful politicians or their backers.
Whatever its source and however efficient or inefficient its performance, the body of paid public servants increases with the expanding life of locality, region, province, state, nation and empire. With its growth goes corresponding accommodations in wages and salaries, office space and equipment and other routine outlays. Frequently the increase of the emoluments of bureaucrats, especially at the higher levels of authority and responsibility, creates sinecures which are filled by parasites or by individuals who are engaged in shoring up the bureaucracy rather than rendering a public service. The outlays necessary to finance such a top-heavy bureaucratic fabric grow in direct proportion to the age and rigidity of the bureaucracy, draining off public funds into private coffers and adding uncompensated elements to overhead costs. If inflation is a problem, at or beyond the apex of an imperial epoch or cycle of civilization, financial costs rise correspondingly.
The chief overhead cost in every civilization is and has been war. Examine the budget of the United States or any other leading civilized power. From two-thirds to three-quarters of central government outlays are for war in the past and preparation for war in the future.
The net result of rising overhead costs appears in the history of all previous civilizations. They are eating out the vitals of western civilization while we write and read these words.
THE SOCIOLOGY OF CIVILIZATION
Sociology is the science and art of association.
Human associations range from kinship groups like the family, tribe and clan to larger more complex groups like villages, towns, cities, nations, empires, to still more inclusive leagues, federations and civilizations.