I am searching for a word, but I do not know if the word exists in the English language. If it doesn't, it should. My missing word could be defined as follows
Definition - an action or policy, ostensibly undertaken for the public benefit, but actually done to protect officials [politicians or civil servants] from possible criticism. The public may actually be harmed by such actions or policies, in any case, any benefit they receive is incidental to the real purpose.
You can see how useful such a word might be. Think of all the security theatre that we have had in airports and elsewhere since 9/11. Think of the raft of oppressive security legislation that was introduced in the UK, the main purpose of which seemed to be to protect the Blair government from the possibility of criticism if another terrorist act occurred. Think of the TSA airport scanner controversy in the USA.
We do have phrases that express the idea, but they are clumsy. We can refer to officials protecting their own backs. In the UK we talk of officials being more concerned with protecting their own arses than benefiting the public. both In cases the terms presumably derive from the idea of protecting backs or buttocks from a public whipping.
If my missing word is not in the English language I thought it might exists in some other language and I turned to my copy of Rheingold [Rheingold, H., 2000. They Have a Word for it, Sarabande Books]. This is a lexicon of useful foreign words which have no direct English equivalent.
For example, we have adopted Zeitgeist and Schaddenfreude from the Germans because they express in one word a concept that would need an entire phrase in English.
Rheingold has other words we might adopt -
Bricoleur [French] - a person who makes things by random messing around and without following a plan.
Drachenfutter [German] - a peace offering from guilty husbands for wives.
Razbliuto [Russian] - the feeling of affection that a person has for someone once loved.
Fisselig [German] - flustered to the point of incompetence.
Rheingold contains lots of useful words. Unfortunately none of them fitted my definition. Maybe there is a Latin word, or something from Strine. The latter must be a real possibility. The Australians have such expressive slang. For example
Bludger - lazy person, usually applied to one who lives on the dole and who doesn't try finding work.
Drongo - stupid male. Spangled drongo - stupid female.
Lurk - something taken or done in an illegal or underhanded manner. Lurks and perks - illegal and legal benefits of an employment.
Shark biscuit - somebody new to surfing
Stickybeak - nosy person
For the moment the matter rests. If you can think of a suitable word please add a comment. The world needs this word.