It is evident that not all the acts of government can be bound by fixed rules and that at every stage of the governmental hierarchy considerable discretion must be granted to the subordinate agencies. So long as the government administers its own resources, there are strong arguments for giving it as much discretion as any business management would require in similar circumstances.

—Friedrich Hayek. The Constitution of Liberty, 1960.

Executive and senior bureaucrats can legitimately issue rules for the governance of the bureaucracy, even if the rules are not codified and if they treat government officials in an arbitrary manner. Such rules do not offend the principle against granting discretion, because they do not affect the people’s rights. The public servants subject to such arbitrary direction are in no different position than the employees of a private company. If they do not like it, they can and should find employment elsewhere.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove