The solution to every problem begins with a unified theoryÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (Gregory House, M.D.).
The idea that the State apparatus looks down on the masses has a long, long heritage.
Over the last four episodes, I’ve tried to lay out a history as to how the civil service came to be, and in the process, explain why it thinks so highly of itself, and why it thinks so poorly of the people whose duty it is for them to serve…or manage, depending on your point of view.
This is what in government briefings is called “background.” None of it is really new to any of you.
Then there’s the Other Shoe
But while we are witnessing a top-down political attempt to exchange our republican form of government to authoritarian in the United States…
….what may be new to some of you is the knowledge that at the other end of the government spectrum, in the workaday bureaucracies which bear no deep political philosophy at all, just rice bowl concerns, breeds a cancer that can devour us all.
As we saw with the USSR, bureaucratism can trump all politics in the end.
It’s about this other shoe this series addresses, for it needs to be attended to as urgently as the political battle at the other end of the spectrum.
In fact, simultaneously, for I have tried to show how the kinds of systems Statism must use in order to manage large complex operations, namely bureaucracies, and the kinds of government systems bureaucracies naturally align themselves with, namely leftish, socialist statist systems, feed on another. The perfect storm.
Once we know the problem, we need to understand the stakes, for bureaucracies can kill, and kill totally, under the mistaken notion, that no matter how bad things get, or who is in charge, they will always be needed. This is the eternal threat to our survival from the bottom of the Statist system…
…while the Left, now in full bloom, marching to a sirens’ call for total world revolt (“This is our Time!”), not quite sure of the outcome but damned sure of the things to be laid waste, threatens our survival from the top.
A two-front war.
No wait, three fronts, because (for conservatives) there is also the Ruling Class wing of the Republican Party who doesn’t see this perfect storm as such a bad thing if only they could be in charge.
If you read the blogs, or follow talking heads on TV, you already know everyone knows the problem to one extent or the other.
Many even say they know the fix, and have all kinds of political cures at the ready. But the bureaucratic shoe isn’t political. It’s clinical, as every businessman knows. “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee…” (Matt 5:29). The surgeon would prescribe the same thing….” for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” I.e., die.
True, the political ramifications are great, but national survival is the test by which we ultimately gauge “real politics” and “false politics,” not the next debt ceiling.Â That is where we are now.
Clinically, this has to be our end game:
The only fix that will suit America is to return to the original recipe of its founding. And only conservatives can know this.
Disclaimer: What we have been talking about here is the size and scope of government, and reining it in. This does not begin to speak to the kind of men and women it will require to exercise the political will to accomplish this; part guile, part wisdom, part grit, all courage, with not one ounce of fear. We will speak to that at another time…and another, and another.
(A big h/t to the bureaucracy buster of our group, who goes only by RPH, for the outline presented here.)
The Five R’s of Reform and the Dirty Dozen
RSPS (Return “Service” to “Public Service”).
Demote the public civil service to a position beneath that of the private sector, as it was for 200 years. And this must be by law until custom and common sense can take over once again, in say, 20-30 years.
RIM/(Reduction in Mission)
Return government and its agencies to the scope of their original missions. Now, many will say that can’t be done, you simply can’t oversee a fourÂ trillion dollar economy the same way you would an economy when Philadelphia, at 40,000, was the largest city in America.
True enough, but the first understanding has to be that the governments (all of them) are overseeing more than they ought, and that’s the problem. The solution is in adopting the right perspective. As a practical exercise (in other words, you can teach this in business school), it is better to imagine the blank slate of 1787 then march forward to the current situation, rather than inching back incrementally from where we are now assuming the status quo ante. It’s the status quo that’s killing us.
We need a new (old) template, with two salient questions: 1) Should it be done? And 2) Who, then, should do it?
RIFÂ (Reduction in Force)
…Our Dirty Dozen–
1: Dept of Energy, Return remaining functions to Interior
2: Dept of Education, There is no constitutional justification, just as there isn’t one for a Department of National Religion. The constitutional function of education belongs to the states, local governments and people. The only possible justifications for a national education policy is indoctrination and robbing the treasury.
3. Dept of Agriculture; Return remaining functions to Interior
4. Dept of Health and Human Services Return; remaining functions to agency status, etc.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
5. Dept of Housing and Urban Development EliminateÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
(Down-size and Reduce mission, 6-12)
Most regulatory agencies serve a public purpose of fact-finding. E.g., at EPA we will also need people to test for water and air quality and this was its early primary mission; to find out stuff and report back to lawmakers. These should be their primary functions once again.
For by the mid-to-late 1970’s most began expanding their missions by turning their emphasis over to writing regulations (lots of lawyers) and enforcing them.
(Case in point: In 1971 I left a state environmental agency that had one attorney and one clerk…me. When I returned to visit in 1974 they had more attorneys than the old division of natural resources had entire staff in 1970. All of those jobs were forced upon the state by federal law.)
To accomplish this they had to broaden the Administrative Procedures Act of 1967 to allow these agencies to assume a quasi-legislative function, i.e, allowing the agencies to by-pass an increasingly lazy Congress, who, like it was once said of the Saudis in 1921, “…think it is noble to sit around and make decision, but think it ignoble to do the kind of work that would make what they decide meaningful.” (I paraphrase.)
Later, these agencies were even allowed to by-pass the due process clause of the 14th Amendment by issuing fines without resort to courts by the defendants.
This needs to be revised and repealed.
This is where the cancer of regulatory bureaucracies can be located, not to mention their high costs, since entry level GS-10 attorneys start at $48,000 while GS-6 field agents start at $32,000. Check what they earn after 10 years.
With this in mind, I’ll conclude the Dirty Dozen:
6. Environmental Protection Agency
7. Equal Employment OpportunityÂ Commission
8. Federal Communications Commission
9. The Federal Reserve (notice I didn’t say eliminate)
10. Food and Drug Administration
11. The NLRB (even in their best years this was a bad idea
RIP (Reduction in Pay)…
Government employees earn twice as much as private sector employees, see here, but in truth it’s a little skewed. In any small town, going back to the 60s, the best job in town was with the post office, which is why Vietnam vets got preferential hiring. Side-by-side, the disparity is more like 30%-40% at the professional end, based on the growth, as mentioned above, of the GS-10 thru GS-13 levels of managers (with advanced degrees) and attorneys on the regulatory side of the building.
Take 20 years to reduce this 200% disparity to 80%…in favor of the private sector, and what you will find is no self-respecting lawyer or scientist will even want those jobs anymore. In fact, they won’t want to go to law school anymore. (Check one off for culture.)
RIB (Reduction in Benefits) -2 bureaucratic generations and
RUPP (Render unions Politically Powerless)
About public sector unions, as we have seen in Wisconsin:
It was never a good idea to allow them to exist in the first place. FDR had that right.
So the best fix (really) is to A) de-certify them, absolutely. Ban them. Absolutely. Let Europe try and match that!
But, if we need a little courage, sort of like using nicotine strips, B) we can always make it illegal for unions to contribute to political campaigns.
Then, knowing they will lie, cheat and steal to circumvent that rule, we can, as Wisconsin has proved to be so important to unions, C) require them to collect dues themselves. No more payroll withholding.
I like Door #1, but all hurt, and all will work.
Finally, establish, by law, there will be no expenditure of public funds to bail out any under-funded pension funds.
Honorable Mention for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but only after a full investigation and all the perps have been hauled off to jail, including co-conspirators in Congress or found hiding out in luxurious retirement.
Now everyone has their special complaints about government spending; ICE, Planned Parenthood, NEA (Arts), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (NPR, PBS). I’m sure everyone has a pet agency. I’d like to see the FBI reduced to its original mission of the 1930s-40s, take over the domestic end of the DEA function, and return the bulk of law enforcement to the states. All the Bull Connors and Jim Clarks are feds now.
Finally, about schools, since they are in the news all the time: Like front line cops and soldiers, they deserve special treatment, for as we have seen in Wisconsin, they have jumped the shark as state employees, having long since abandoned even trying to learn how to teach swimming since the formation of the Department of Education in 1980. (Jimmy Carter) Schools are also at the front lines; the front line of federal indoctrination of our children, and their continued dumbing down, not just K-thru-12, not just college, but well into law school we’re sadly learning. They require a chapter, and a cure, all their own.
But not here, for it’s a horrible death to be talked to death.
There you have it, a completely re-framed government. Until the end of the Wilson era, the public budget was only 10% of GDP, but inside the federal budget, federal employment (civil servants) was a much smaller part of the overall cost of government. We can achieve that again. It only requires the political will and a top to bottom understanding of the stakes.
I’ll be happy with that.