In everyday language, we use the word bureaucracy as an insult. For most people, the term conjures long lines of angry people, piles of papers just about to tip over, and workers asleep at their desks. The truth is that every government needs a bureaucracy in order to function properly. In fact, the federal government of the United States employs roughly 1 percent of the American population, or approximately 2.6 million people, within its bureaucracy.

The Department of Motor Vehicles, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Peace Corps, the Office of Government Ethics, the U.S. Capitol Police, and the Small Business Administration are all part of the American bureaucracy, but so are religious groups, businesses, and educational institutions. For better or worse, a bureaucracy is the best way to organize large numbers of people working toward the same goal.

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