Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of excerpts from the book “The War in Heaven Continues: Satan’s Tactics to Destroy You, Christianity, the Family, the Constitution, and America” by Gary Lawrence.
Next week: Gradual Corruption and Budding Tyranny
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A Department of Agriculture bureaucrat, the yarn goes, was especially glum one morning. When asked the problem, he replied, “My farmer died.”
The ratio of bureaucrats to workers may not be 1:1 as yet, but past a certain point one wonders, “How big is government going to get?”
Government is obese for at least three reasons:
No natural limiting mechanisms. The marker of success in business is profit. If a business does not offer a product or service that people are willing to buy, it will fail. The success markers for government, on the other hand, are size of budget and number of employees, and there are no natural limiting mechanisms. If government services were dependent upon free-will purchases, would people commission the writing of more regulations telling us what we can and cannot do?
Process is more important than solutions. If government solves a problem, public employee jobs could be lost, which triggers two reactions in a bureaucracy. First, burrow deeper into Americans’ daily lives to find, or manufacture, problems that justify the agency’s existence. Second, subject the problem to a process rather than a solution. Thomas Sowell put it, “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”
Therefore, the bureaucratic mindset is: convene conferences, study it, complicate it, stretch it out, then write rules, dream up acronyms, monitor, regulate, and administer, but for heaven sakes don’t solve the hummer or we’ll all be peddling apples and pencils.
Perverse incentives. Public employees gain status by the number of people under them and the size of their budget. Thus are fiefdoms built as career public servants search for more things to regulate so more people are hired so their status goes up and their own position becomes more secure. All of which leads to more intrusion into people’s private lives by swarms of busybodies. Is it really government’s role to monitor our weight and dictate what we eat?
No human activity exists that the state has not, in one way or another, placed under its umbrella to monitor, administer, and if necessary bend to its will. (Even bovine activity is open game as the White House is fretting about how to control cow flatulence, believe it or not.)
Unless a sovereign people clearly draws red lines circumscribing permissible action, government will grow until it collapses of its own weight, and perhaps the republic with it. It will never halt on its own.
Compare today with a previous situation on this soil. Thomas Jefferson listed 26 specific grievances against King George III in the Declaration of independence, one of which is hauntingly familiar in our time:
“He has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent forth swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”
Is this not an accurate description of today’s explosive growth of government agencies and more than 17 million federal, state, and local functionaries swarming the countryside, all supported by the labors of those they regulate?
In a 2005 study, New York University professor Paul Light found an average of 18 layers of bureaucracy between the cabinet secretary and the person being regulated “between, say, the secretary of agriculture and the forest ranger” up from “only” seven layers in 1960. “Accountability has been shredded, and you can’t tell who makes the decision, where the information gets stuck, or who is responsible for doing the job well.” Even the oversight committees in Congress find it exasperatingly maddening to find out who gave whom what directions.
Columnist John Fund writes that, “the biggest problem with our bureaucracy is not its complexity. It is its ability to sidestep democratic procedures and make decisions on its own. Congress has increasingly delegated authority to agencies run by unelected functionaries who have incredible discretion in implementing laws that in turn can be incredibly vague.”
Congress either passes an idealized goal such as the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, etc., or a humongous plan like Obamacare running into thousands of pages that few have read, and then grants authority to the permanent ruling class the partisan bureaucracy to implement it:
- Agencies write the actual do’s and don’ts that people must follow that’s legislative power.
- Agencies judge who is or isn’t in compliance that’s judicial power.
- Agencies enforce compliance with armed agents if necessary that’s executive power.
Because all three powers can be found in every administrative agency, the ingenious separation of powers is blurred and a critical Constitutional principle is dismantled.
Dismantled by swarms of government employees the new plague of locusts in today’s society.
Where are those seagulls when you need them?
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Gary Lawrence is a public opinion pollster and author of “How Americans View Mormonism” and “Mormons Believe What?!”. He lives in Orange County, California and welcomes comments at [email protected].