If you’re hired by a businessperson to head a department of, say, research and development, your mission will be to produce the most and best new stuff at the lowest cost possible. If your expenses are high and your output low, you’ll be fired, and find it difficult to get employed elsewhere.
Government life, on the other hand, is much different. If you’re appointed to, say, head the U.S. Department of Education, you may think that you should you should maximize output while minimizing cost, but if you do that, you’ll be seen by everyone in the department as enemy #1 and by the heads of all the other departments as a pariah. In government your mission is to increase the number of employees, report that you’re “working on it”, spend over budget, thus getting more funding the following year. When you finish your tenure, you’ll surely be hired as a consultant or lobbyist.
Okay, you say, you’re right, drpete, the federal government has gotten out of hand, but aren’t you generalizing a bit? Let’s try this. Your small town mayor proposes that the town really needs to develop a playground for the kids, so she appoints a blue-ribbon committee to design it.
At the first blue-ribbon meeting, Abe starts by asserting that job#1 is to define what is to be included in the park. Beth counters that, no, job #1 is to determine where – say, on which side of the tracks – the park is to be located. Caroline chimes in with anywhere’s fine, just not on my street. Doug, always looking to find an “affirmative action” cause, suggests locating it near the poorest neighborhood so that property values there will be increased. Ellen says that having the park there might be dangerous and that many parents would, thus, keep their kids from using it.
Guaranteed that you’ll hear from some Tom, Dick, or Harry, along with some Tanya, Dorothy, or Harriet about ecological impacts, the impacts on wildlife, the risks of standing water resulting in a designation as a “wetland”, the importance of the play being noncompetitive and nonviolent, that the equipment materials be produced with sustainable energy, the importance of materials used being biodegradable or, if not, recyclable. You’ll also be told it essential to “buy local” and to use only union workers.
And after you assemble all of the ideas, concerns, agendae in an incoherent three-ring-binder of a couple-thousand pages, where will it go? To the Town Council. Uh-oh, another committee.
In the U.S. Army, who is Infantry’s worst enemy, al Qaeda? No, it’s Armor. The more tanks Armor gets, the fewer troops Infantry gets. Where’s the Army’s battlefield? House Ways & Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee.
In the U.S. Department of Agriculture, how come, as the number of farms and the number of farm workers has declined precipitously, the Department has grown precipitously? Because Ag has almost nothing to do with farms and farming anymore. When you hear about the “Farm Bill”, it’s a misnomer. It’s about food stamps for 1 in 7 Americans. It’s about subsidizing corn and ethanol while mandating its inclusion in gasoline, that despite increasing pollution markedly in the process.
If all persons were angels, there’d be no reason for government. All persons, however, aren’t angels. If all persons in government were angels, there’d be no need to restrict government. All persons in government, of course, aren’t angels. In fact, the percentages are awful.
Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho) on Meet the Press in August of 1975 more than 37 years ago, speaking about the NSA (National Security Agency) and its eavesdropping capability, said, “That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything . . . If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny and there would be no way to fight back.” And much earlier one Thomas Jefferson said, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny, when the government fears the people, there is Liberty!” And today, I fear that government . . . big time.
The “kill list”?
When we add to said that governments have authority to use force that no one else has, when we add that governments are spending others’ money, when we add that governments are really sets of committees, and we count ourselves fortunate when one invents a camel while trying for a horse rather than, say, a tarantula or crocodile; well, anyone not in government who’s happy to see it grow is either a colluding cheater or an imbecile.
Recently, 13 agents from the U.S. Department of Education, acting as a SWAT Team raided at gunpoint a California home at 6 a.m., pulled a Kenneth Wright outside in his boxer shorts, threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, and held him for six hours while terrifying his three children, ages 3, 9, and 11. Yes, I did say, Education. All this was to investigate Wright’s estranged wife’s use of federal student aid, but she didn’t even live in that house. The Heritage Foundation says that the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center trains agents for more than 80 federal agencies. The CATO Institute estimates that there are now about 40,000 such raids per year. And today, I fear that government . . . big time.