Why I Don’t Like Technocracy

I’d thought about letting this go but it’s stuck in my craw. In James Taranto’s column this morning I saw this:

You can’t make this stuff up–but your tax dollars pay for the guys who do. Those would be guys like Ezra Mechaber, deputy director of email and petitions at the White House Office of Digital Strategy. (As an aside, have you ever noticed that the length of a professional title tends to be inversely correlated with the importance of the position?)

That piqued my interest for a number of reasons. For one thing the name. One of the miscellaneous items in my vast supply of useless trivia is that “mechaber” is Hebrew for “author”. It would be like having the name “Pseudonym”.

Another is the title. Back to that in a second.

I did a little prowling around and learned that Mr. Mechaber graduated from University of Rochester in 2011 with a bachelors degree in political science and religion, worked for a short time at a web startup, and then went to work for the White House. I’m not exactly sure what a dual major in politics and religion is good for. About 90% of web startups and fail and with the amount of time he had he could just about learn the location of the wash room. By just about any reckoning that makes him a beginner.

According to the Executive Schedule a “deputy director” is a very responsible position. Deputy directors earn about $175,000 a year. That leads me to one of two conclusions. One possibility is that he isn’t paid a deputy director’s salary and is actually an intern with a big title. That does an injustice to every genuine deputy director and puts something very misleading on his resume.

The other possibility is that he’s being paid $175,000. In what world is a junior without relevant credentials worth $175,000?

That may be a lot things but technocracy it ain’t.

7 comments… add one

  • michael reynolds

    My first thought was a dad who’s a political contributor. But the database says no.

    I saw that he’s writing a blog. I never knew knew there was that much money it. Glittering Eye must be a gold mine.

  • That was my first thought, too. Or that he was a bundler but the data don’t support either of those. Unless “Mechaber” is a pseudonym.

    I doubt that there are 100 blogs in the world that earn that much other than by selling something.

  • PD Shaw

    Probably connections, but I think Administrations start having trouble filling positions towards the end also. The staff seems to get younger.

    I have him at a $41,000 salary in 2012 as a White House Associate Director of Online Engagement.

  • ” Associate Directors” are supposed to make more than that, too. Around $150,000. More resume padding.

    Presumably, the White House is exempt from ordinary civil service regulations but it’s still misleading.

    PD:

    Thanks. That was option 1 but as I said it’s misleading.

  • PD Shaw

    For those interested, this is the White House salary spreadsheet for 2012. The “internet” jobs are interesting, when juxtaposed with national security policy jobs:

    http://spreadsheets.latimes.com/white-house-salaries-2012/

  • PD Shaw

    I don’t know if they are following the political-hiring scandal in the Illinois Department of Transportation closely in Chicago, but there was an interesting letter to the editor in the Springfield paper today, detailing how the political hires have crowded out technical expertise. The first step is messing with the job descriptions:

    http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140514/OPINION/140519770/2014/OPINION

    The writer is a person of knowledge.

  • steve

    On this site that lists all WH staff, Director of WH personnel makes $100,000. Several other directors make about $80k, with a low of$60k that I saw. Deputy directors make from about $90k to a low of $50k.

    https://opendata.socrata.com/Government/Name-Salary-and-Position-of-the-2013-White-House-S/ib7r-prw9

    Steve

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