Slaying the Bureaucratic Leviathan to Obtain the Most Freedom Possible
“I own that I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.” —Thomas Jefferson
Many who are hired by government end up working in the bureaucracy. And, yes, it is necessary to have a few paper-pushers to document matters and make things go. But they have become far too numerous. And their numbers have grown so big that we are losing our mastery over them—indeed, over the government itself.
Bureaucrats, instead of serving the public, are reversing the roles and commanding the public instead. This is fundamentally changing our country, making the people less free, in that they now fear their own government, rather than the other way around. But how did the government Leviathan become so monstrously huge?
An Appropriate Response
Here is the truth: government does not know things; people know things. With adequately knowledgeable people, the government is prepared to respond to situations before they grow into crises. Without the correct people in place, the government is ill-equipped to do anything more than make guesses as to what the appropriate responses should be.
Now, let us imagine that a certain urgent situation arises that demands a timely response. The executive says, “We can easily get the proper people quickly in place to deal with that situation.” So the Congress passes an emergency measure, with the consent of the people, to create a commission that will be responsible for obtaining the specialists needed. The people have been convinced that the response will be faster if the government handles the matter. The government already knows people it can draft that are well-suited to help.
So, the government acts quickly to draft subject-matter experts, and the necessary decisions are made and the appropriate actions are taken to avert larger problems down the road. Problem solved. Now what?
The commission continues; it is given the job of making sure that problem never recurs. Then, the commission grows into a department, and the department comes to the opinion that it could do an even more effective job if it could grow.
In order to ensure the problem never arises again, this department begins to collect information. As the country changes, the way in which a recurrence of the problem might emerge also changes, so the department asks to hire more specialists.
The department soon decides it must take over more jurisdictions having to do with preventing or solving other problems similar to the original one it was created to solve. The bureaucratic growth continues, and its role expands. It loses its focus as it increases in its jurisdiction and power. What had once been established as an appropriate solution to a problem morphs into a branch of government with questionable purposes.
A New Raison d’Être
In time, most—if not all—of the original players in the department’s establishment have retired or moved on. This means that the original knowledge base no longer exists. Perhaps some of the knowledge that is required for the department to function effectively has been passed on. But, over time, less and less will be shared or handed down. And, although it is much reduced in potency and effectiveness, the people still working all have an interest in maintaining an environment where they continue to have employment. So, the bureaucracy will invent new rules to obey and new forms to fill out, in a concerted effort to legitimize its continued existence.
As the bureaucracy continues to grow and perpetuate itself, the vast number of rules and regulations increases to the point where Congressional oversight becomes practically impossible. The sheer volume of new rules has gotten to the point where the bureaucratic beast has become irrepressible.
Out of Control
When an animal becomes out of control—as a rabid dog is likely to become—the only workable solution, ultimately, is to slay the beast. Cutting back on the size of the bureaucracy will not have any lasting effect, because it will just find a way to grow again, causing the same wanton destruction of liberty as before. The functions carried out by the department should all be given over to the states to manage for themselves, and each state can then decide how it wishes to proceed.
If another national crisis arises, and a commission must be formed to deal with it, such a commission should be given a mission, the completion of which will dissolve the commission. A generous severance package awarded to participants would prove much less costly than allowing such a commission to continue beyond its original purpose.
Making Government Responsive
The question for Americans today is this: Do we want a limited government, where problems are solved at the lowest level and with the most freedom possible? Or do we want a system of bureaucratic rule-creation that can only diminish our freedom?
What we need in America is Constitutionally-constrained government, free markets, and a limit to the overall burden of taxation and regulation. Administrative law-making, unhinged from doable Congressional oversight, is not only unconstitutional, it is risky as well. The smaller the government, the less corruption will exist, and the more easily a citizen can obtain accountability from it.
Only problems not solvable at home should rise to the level of neighborhood or municipal involvement. Only problems beyond the power of townships or counties to solve should rise to the level of state action. And only issues not actionable by the sovereign states should be taken up at the national level.
Every problem in our society should always be solved by involving the fewest people possible, at the lowest level doable. In other words, every American problem deserves to be solved with the fewest constraints necessary and the most freedom possible.