Politics, et Cetera

A publication from The Political Forum, LLC

[print-me target=”body”]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

They Said It:

With opinions, possession is more than nine points of the law.  It is next to impossible to dislodge them.  Institutions which one generation regards as only a makeshift approximation to the realization of a principle, the next generation honors as the nearest possible approximation to that principle, and the next worships the principle itself.  It takes scarcely three generations for the apotheosis.  The grandson accepts his grandfather’s hesitating experiment as an integral part of the fixed constitution of nature.

Even if we had clear insight into all the political past, and could form out of perfectly instructed heads a few steady, infallible, placidly wise maxims of government into which all sound political doctrine would be ultimately resolvable, would the country act on them?  That is the question.  The bulk of mankind is rigidly unphilosophical, and nowadays the bulk of mankind votes.  A truth must become not only plain but also commonplace before it will be seen by the people who go to their work very early in the morning; and not to act upon it must involve great and pinching inconveniences before these same people will make up their minds to act upon it.

Woodrow Wilson, “The Study of Administration,” Political Science Quarterly, July 1887.

 

THE THEORY OF BUREAUCRACY.

For several weeks now, we have been contemplating our General Unified Theory of Bureaucracy.  We had intended to spring this on you, gentle reader, in the days before the election.  But, overtaken by events or some such, we were forced to wait.   And we are glad we did.  As it turns out, the unexpected but delightful post-election appearance of Jonathan Gruber made the issue of bureaucracy all the more pertinent and, more to the point, made our job in formulating the theory that much easier.  Indeed, while Gruber is far from being a god, if he didn’t exist, we would have had to invent him.  Fortunately, though, this painfully insecure, gratuitous, dishonest little man, who is apparently incapable of keeping his mouth shut, does exist.  And for that, we will be eternally grateful.

Now, before we get too far along in this discussion of bureaucracy, we want to clarify a couple of points.  First, when we talk about a “theory of bureaucracy,” we are not talking about how bureaucracy works.  This is, we’re sure, a great relief to those of you who became afraid after the reading the headline above that we would be bombarding you again with endless quotes from long dead German sociologists.  Instead, we have in mind a theory about the long-term, and should we say ugly consequences of bureaucratic governance

Regular readers know that we believe that Max Weber was, without question, the most important and insightful German observer of government and the human condition in the post-monarchical era.  He was a severe critic of Marx.  And while this often placed him in the camp with the capitalists, he was strikingly pessimistic about the “progress” that capitalism’s biggest boosters foresaw.  And it was in this sense that, despite his undeniable and inescapable differences with Marx, he did agree with Marx on one important element of the evolution of the modern state, that being that it would mark the end of democracy.

Marx’s view on the subject was that “the masses” would be irrelevant in his communist utopia, at least at the start.  He posited a vague, future wonderland of equality and democratic harmony, but only after the necessarily undemocratic and unharmonious “revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”  After the purges, the reeducation, and the retraining of the human animal, then, perhaps, true Rousseauian democracy would be possible.  Before then, of course, the masses would have to obey their masters and, more to the point, have the courtesy to die for those masters as well.

Weber, for his part, was a great fan of participatory democracy.  But, as indicated above, he suspected that it was doomed by the advent of bureaucracy, which he thought would eventually join capital and labor as a third force in society and would inevitably control “the masses” rather than be controlled by them.   He reportedly fretted about this often and insistently.

As for a solution to the problem, the best he could come up with was the unlikely prospect that some sort of mechanism could be established that would assure that the bureaucracy would represent the will of the people rather than that of a political organization or individual politician.

We don’t know whether Weber actually believed that this recommendation would be taken seriously by future generations.  But we do know that he was a realist, which leads us to believe that he had serious doubts about whether any force on earth could keep bureaucracy from leading to the end of man’s experiment in self-determination and self-government.

Now, for decades, everyone with an IQ greater than his shoe size has known how experiments in Marxism/communism end.  In fact, one of the great mysteries of evolution is how the human species could have survived for so long while still producing abundant numbers of humans such as Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Ed Markey, and Nancy Pelosi with such limited powers of critical thought that they fail to see the clear connection between governmental collectivism and human suffering.  It doesn’t matter, as it turns out, who is in charge of the “revolution,” or how charismatic he or she may be.  In the end, the weight of the contradictions in Marx’s schemes will crush civil society, crush the economy, and crush the people as well.  And the fact that neither our Hollywood glitterrati nor our Washington elites have yet figured that out, bodes ill for the species..

Consider, if you will, the following from the Washington Post over the weekend, documenting the beginning of the sad but inevitable end in the latest, greatest experiment in Marxist economics:

The sprawling street market that radiates outward from the metro station in Petare, Caracas’s largest slum, is the retail equivalent of an anti-Target.

There’s no organization to it. Tube socks and school supplies are sold beside giant pyramids of pineapple and piled yucca. Leopard-print hot pants stretch over mannequin buttocks next to the stinky stalls of fishmongers.

The bazaar was known until this month as one of the city’s biggest open-air black markets, the place to find all the scarce items that shoppers must queue up for hours to get in supermarkets, or can’t find at all. Earlier this year, toilet paper and corn­meal were scarce; lately it’s diapers and deodorant that have “gotten lost,” as Venezuelans say.

Authorities mostly turned a blind eye to the informal commerce, but late last month Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro went on TV to decree a ban on street sales of coffee, eggs, shampoo and some 50 other “regulated” items whose prices­ are capped by the government. He ordered the National Guard to police market stalls for such items as mayonnaise and powdered milk, and threatened to prosecute recidivist violators.

As it works out in the real world, the “dictatorship of the proletariat” never gives way to the blessed, utopic state of Marxist dreams.  Human nature being what it is, both the dictator and the dictatees find it difficult to move on to the “real” communism.  Reeducation stalls out.  Some animals find they enjoy being more equal than others.  And then economic reality sets in.  Before long, corpses are piling up in the killing fields; the richest country in Latin America is unable to provide its people with toilet paper; the cameras are turned off as the tanks roll into the square; millions starve or are intentionally starved; and eventually the whole godforsaken mess collapses, leaving in its wake, death, destruction, and a society completely stripped of functioning institutions.

That is where the Marxist “utopia” leads.  That is where it always leads.  That is where it can’t help but lead.  In the early 1990s, when Francis Fukuyama wrote about “The End of History,” this was the essential truth he put into print.  Communism, the scourge of the bourgeoisie for more than century, could be summed up in one brief statement:  It’s a nice idea in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.  And hence was Marx’s grand dream consigned to the proverbial ash heap of history.

Returning now to Weber, no such intellectual or practical consensus exists with respect to the inevitable end of the bureaucratic state.  Part of this, we suppose, is because bureaucracy is universally recognized as a necessary part of modern government.  As Weber clearly understood and noted, it is a rational structure that makes contemporary civilization possible.  Its existence is not only inevitable, but beneficial in discrete circumstances.  All of which is to say that the negative consequences of bureaucracy – up to and including the destruction of democratic governance – are slow to develop and easy to ignore when they begin to appear, which they always do.

Slowly but surely, “the people” become lazy.  They like the fact that the bureaucracy is made up of “experts” who are “trained” to do the “right thing.”  Their legislators like the fact that they can define the problem broadly and avoid having to get involved in the details.  Their politicians like the fact that the bureaucracy is trained to handle any and all legal, moral, and ethical barriers to “getting things done.”  And everyone likes the fact that the bureaucracy will take responsibility for handling delicate matters that might ruffle some feathers.  The result is that they are all off-put by Weber’s demand that they exercise control over the bureaucracy.   Indeed, they like the fact that the bureaucracy has solved this problem for them by joining in a partnership with the society’s elite, who then become a sort of super-bureaucracy themselves.

And it’s all downhill from there.  And this is especially true when Marx once again enters the picture.

In the United States, Marx was invited to the party by Woodrow Wilson, who, like Weber and Marx both, viewed history as a linear progression toward an increasingly better world.  Indeed, the notion of bureaucracy as a fundamental historical development is one of the factors that binds all three together and, incidentally, binds them all to the philosopher Georg Hegel.

Weber, of course, saw bureaucracy as the natural outgrowth of the modernization process, the consequence of the transformation of the feudal state to the modern state.  And while he repudiated Hegel for believing that history produced successive progressions, regardless of the efficiency and advantage of each stage, he conceded that history did indeed progress, at least up to the point when an ideal type might be reached.  Bureaucracy, with its hyper-rationalism, became the end “stage” in Weber’s estimation, the inevitable culmination of modern civilizational development.

Wilson, for his part, saw the growth of bureaucracy as a function of “organic” societal development, necessarily leading society away from the institutional and republican  influences lauded by the Founders and toward a more rational and “scientific” public administration.  Both men, in short, saw the bureaucracy as a normal and largely disinterested organizational structure whose development marked the distinction between modern and pre-modern governance, regardless of the government form under which it operated.

Note here that Progressivism, which dominated Wilson’s notion of bureaucratic administration and which clearly informed Weber’s, is a collectivist ideology.  It is an ideology intended to bring about the greatest possible happiness in society through communal action and especially through the efficient, specialized, and collective administration of the state’s business.  As the political scientist and Wilson scholar Larry Walker put it, “progressivism was a rebellion against limited government and the individualism of nineteenth century liberalism.  It accepted collectivism, the welfare of the community as a whole, as a positive value.”

Both Weber and, to a lesser extent, Wilson, saw administration as distinct from politics.  The old politics-administration dichotomy was very much a part of Weber’s “ideal type” and, in fact, defined the ideal from lesser administrative forms.  Wilson’s conception of the bureaucracy was a little different from Weber’s, focusing more on the purity of the administrative component and worrying more about the partisan corruption of administration.  In both cases, though, the notion that administration could and would be distinct from political power was integral to their beliefs about the general beneficence of the bureaucratic structure.  In short, both men saw the need for and the desire for an independent, specialized, professional, and professionally trained administrative class whose sole function would be the administration of government action.

Unfortunately, on this particular subject, both Wilson and Weber were every bit as naïve and every bit as ignorant of human nature as was Marx.  This idea that a professional bureaucratic class could be maintained as distinct and separate from the levers of power and could, therefore be controlled and harnessed to the public’s bidding and only the public’s bidding was woefully misguided and therefore dangerously ignorant.  Just over a half-century later, William Niskannen rather convincingly demonstrated that bureaucracies – and individual bureaucrats – have their own agendas, which, among other things, encourage the maximization of resource delivery and usage.

Likewise, at roughly the same time, Theodore Lowi demonstrated equally convincingly that the bureaucracy could not and would not function independently of the political apparatus, but in collusion with it.  The second generation of American public administrators sought to break down the barriers between politics and administration, ending the dichotomy so valued by Weber and advocated less vociferously but still enthusiastically by Wilson.  Their purpose in doing so was high-minded, in that they sought to make the bureaucracy more accountable to democratic forces.  What they – and we –ended up with instead, though, was an administrative class that sought to maximize its own resources and that was allied, both in resource collection and in governmental objective, with the political class.  Add to this the fact that this administrative class was, by definition, constructed to see itself as separate from the people and, by nature and training, better suited than the people to the application of government policy, and we can see the genesis of a permanent and largely unaccountable administrative class that is both hostile to and dismissive of the people at large.

In Nazi Germany, as in Soviet Russia, Communist China, and the rest, the collectivist conception of the will of the people was perverted by political leaders, eager for power and in pursuit of quasi-religious millenarian ends.  In the case of the Nazis, however, the dictatorship of the proletariat was replaced by the dictatorship of the bureaucracy, the highly efficient administrative class that came to see itself as allied with the political class and therefore as antagonistic to the people – or at least some of the people, those whose genetic or behavioral characteristics were reviled by the political class.  The utopian collectivist notion persisted, but the rhetorical motivation focused on the specific impulses of the political class, which in the case of the Nazis, centered on preserving the master race from interlopers, rather than protecting the proletariat from the machinations of the bourgeoisie.

Contra Hannah Arendt, the German bureaucracy could not and did not function in the absence of political motivation.  Certainly, and in Arendt’s defense, the bureaucracy did serve as the rational, practical, machine-like means for implementing the political class’s solutions.  But that in and of itself did not – could not – render the German bureaucracy innocent.  It did not make banal the bureaucracy’s evil.   The German bureaucracy was not, as Eichmann would have us all believe, simply following orders.  No bureaucracy simply follows orders.  Rather, the much-ballyhooed German bureaucracy allied itself and its motivations with the Nazi political class, making the political class’s (final) solutions more efficient, more triumphant, more routine, and thus more heinous.  Bureaucracy in and of itself was not responsible for the Nazi atrocities, but the Nazi atrocities would not have been possible without the German bureaucracy.

This, we would argue, is the true nature of bureaucracy.  It is not passive.  It is not the mindless machine Weber envisioned.  Rather, it is a rational actor like any other, plotting its actions to fit as well as possible with its priorities, and, more often than not, finding that those priorities match up well with those of the political class.

All of this, we would argue, is applicable to some extent or another in the contemporary West as well – in Europe, in Great Britain, and especially here in the United States.  We know that in making this declaration so soon after tying the forces of the administrative/bureaucratic dictatorship to the Nazis we run the risk of sounding like cranks, comparing contemporary America to Nazi Germany.  But that is not our point.

Let us make this very clear.  The contemporary American bureaucracy is nothing like the Nazi bureaucracy and the contemporary American political class is nothing like the Nazi political class.  There is no overarching anti-Semitism in the American political class; no all-encompassing desire for racial purity; and certainly no belief that the state can or should sanction murder of its people.  To suggest otherwise would be nuts.  We’re clear on that?

At the same time, however, we believe that the evidence shows that the self-interested link between the bureaucratic class and the political class is a near-universal phenomenon.  In no modern nation can the bureaucracy act to achieve its own ends independently, but in every such nation, it nevertheless allies its end with those of the political class, fashioning the two into a large, exceptionally powerful, and notably self-interested ruling regime that is capable of smothering the will of the people effortlessly.  In short, it is clear, we think, that the lack of bureaucratic independence and impartiality that haunted the Nazis are every bit as lacking in American political culture and, for that matter, in the rest of Western political culture as well.

Niskanen and Lowi didn’t fret about the destruction influence of the German bureaucracy, after all.  They worried specifically about the accumulation and management of power by the American bureaucratic apparatus, the perverse effects of this power on the American democratic process, and the relative and resultant helplessness of the American people.  All of which is to say that the problem of the “dictatorship of the bureaucracy” is every bit as much an American problem as it was a Nazi German problem.

And for this reason, we are especially grateful for Jonathan Gruber.

We have, of course, written a great deal over the past several years and especially over the past several weeks about the American ruling class’s disdain for the people over whom it rules.  As we noted two weeks ago – and also four years before that – the current political climate is defined by the American people’s will to govern themselves and the ruling class’s contempt for that will.

While we have long been aware of this contempt and have long seen it function in the political process, rarely have we – or anyone else who has studied the phenomenon – seen it function so openly and so unembarrassedly in the policy and regulatory processes.  Jonathan Gruber has given us a great and valuable gift, but one that confirms our deepest darkest fears about the intentions and tactics of the ruling class.

As most of you undoubtedly know, Jonathan Gruber is a health policy wonk, a professor of economics specializing in health care policy at MIT.  He is also a consultant who has been paid nearly $6 million over the last decade-and-a-half to help the federal government and various states write their health care policies, most notably the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare) and its predecessor in Massachusetts, i.e. Romneycare.  Gruber is very much a part of the new clerisy, which is to say part of the bureaucratic-academic class that formulates, designs, and ratifies legislative and regulatory actions to carry out the will of the political class.  Steve Rattner, Barack Obama’s former auto czar, described Gruber as “the man” behind Obamacare.  In short, Gruber is of, by, and for the ruling class.  He makes the ruling class’s wishes feasible, while lining his own pockets.

Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, Jonathan Gruber is also an arrogant, self-absorbed, shameless, insolent self-promoter.  And that means that he has done what very few of his ilk have had the gall to do before; that is go on record bragging about usurping the will of the people and imposing the will of their masters upon them.  Last July, you may recall, plaintiffs suing the federal government in the case of King v. Burwell discovered and publicized a video of Gruber admitting that Obamacare subsidies were intended to go only to state exchange participants, not those who used the federal exchange.  More damagingly, over the last couple of weeks, a handful of journalists and other interested parties have found and publicized a series of other videos, all of which show Gruber saying embarrassing things about the process by which the wildly unpopular Obamacare reform law was written, debated, and passed.  The most notorious of these, as you likely know, is that in which he mused about how neatly and effectively the Obama administration conned the stupid American people.  To wit:

This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure that the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes.  If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.  Okay.  So it was written to do that.  In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law that said healthy people are going to pay in — if you made it explicit that healthy people pay in sick people get money it would not have passed.  Okay.

Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.  And basically call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical in getting the thing to pass, and, you know, it’s the second best argument.  And I wish Mark was right, we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.

Democrats in Congress and at the White House quickly distanced themselves from Gruber, insisting that they didn’t know him, that he didn’t represent their views, and claiming that he was just some random guy from the neighborhood.  Or, as the editorial board of New York Times, the unofficial mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, put it:

[Gruber’s] role [in enacting Obamacare] was limited.  He had a big contract with the White House to use his econometric model to calculate the financial and coverage effects of proposed measures.  And he was one of 13 experts who advised the Senate Finance Committee.  His comments should not be taken as evidence that the reform law was hatched in secrecy and foisted on the public by trickery.

Republicans and conservatives, for their part, responded exactly as you would expect them to, by insisting that Gruber was a big deal, that he did have a great deal of influence and that his role and his subsequent revelations reveal the fundamental dishonesty of the process by which Obamacare became the law of the land.  As The Hill reported:

Republicans have pounced on the remarks and are already weighing congressional hearings, which would create an enormous headache for Democrats.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a candidate for chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Wednesday that he supports a hearing, though his spokesman said no event had yet been scheduled.

“We may want to have hearings on this,” Jordan told The Washington Post.  “We shouldn’t be surprised they were misleading us.”. . .

On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he was “sure” that Gruber would be brought to Congress to testify.

The comments confirmed his suspicions that the Obama administration had been dishonest about the law, Shelby said.

In turn, Democrats responded again, insisting that the Obamacare debates were among the most open and transparent in American history, that they were never dishonest, that Obama misspoke when he told people that if they liked their plans they could keep them, etc., etc., ad nauseam.  In short, both political parties and their media allies wound up turning the whole Gruber-gate matter into a question of honesty.

This is all well and good, we suppose.  And certainly the open and unabashed practice of deception in pursuit of far-reaching legislation is an abomination.  Nevertheless, we think that most everybody is missing the point.  Yes, yes, as Charles Krauthammer put it, the Obama administration “contemptuously deceives,” the people of the country.  But so what?  All politicians lie.  And to make this about lying is to devalue the revelation here.

The issue isn’t the deception so much as the point of the deception, which was, as Gruber concedes, to force the American people to accept a policy that they didn’t want, that they didn’t like, and that they would never, ever have accepted otherwise.  The lying is important, don’t get us wrong.  But it’s also incidental.  The big deal is the willingness of the political class and the new clerisy/bureaucratic class to collude to enact legislation and regulation that they know the American people oppose.  It’s all for our own good, they said.  We have to do it, in spite of you and your petty objections.  Another Gruber quote recently unearthed, this one about the “Cadillac” tax plan makes the point more explicitly:

[I]t was very exciting, once again, because the economists in the room all said the number one thing you need to do is you need to take on the tax subsidy to employer-sponsored insurance.  We need one minute of background on this.  The way employer-sponsored insurance works is, if you get paid in wages, you get taxed.  If you get paid in health insurance, you do not. . . .

So this tax subsidy economists have been railing against for decades, it’s super-expensive.  We forego about $250 billion per year in tax revenues.  It’s regressive — the richer you are, the bigger tax break you get.  And it’s inefficient because it causes people to buy excessive health insurance.  So everyone in the room said, “You want something that is real cost control that we know it will work, go after this.”

Now, the problem is, it’s a political nightmare . . . and people say, “No, you can’t tax my benefits.”  So what we did a lot in that room was talk about, well, how could we make this work?  And Obama was like, “Well, you know” — I mean, he is really a realistic guy.  He is like, “Look, I can’t just do this.”  He said: “It is just not going to happen politically.  The bill will not pass.  How do we manage to get there through phases and other things?”  And we talked about it.  And he was just very interested in that topic.

Once again, that ultimately became the genesis of what is called the Cadillac tax in the health care bill, which I think is one of the most important and bravest parts of the health care law and doesn’t get nearly enough credit.  I mean, this is the first time after years and years of urging — and the entire health policy, there was not one single health expert in America who is setting up a system from scratch, would have this employer subsidy in place.  Not one.

So after years and years of us wanting to get rid of this, to finally go after it was just such a huge victory for health policy.  And I’m just incredibly proud that he and the others who supported this law were willing to do it.

Read that again, if you will.  “People say, ‘No you can’t tax my benefits.’”  “It is just not going to happen politically.  The bill will not pass.  How do we manage to get there through phases and other things?”  “Not one single health expert in America who is setting up a system from scratch, would have this employers subsidy in place.  Not one.”

This is brazen.  This is unabashed.  This is, as it were, the ultimate expression of the Progressive, collectivist, bureaucratic ethos.  You people, you individuals, hate this policy.  But we like it.  And we know better, because we’re the experts, after all.  And so . . . well . . . tough sh*t.  It’s for the good of the “people” collectively.

The Progressives, the bureaucrats, and the wonks have always believed that they know better than the people what the people need.  It is the nature of the beast, we’re afraid.  Like all collectivist ideologies, Progressive-bureaucratism starts with the premise that the people are helpless, incapable of handling their own affairs in the face of the nasty, evil, forces of the world.  The professionals – which is to say the academics and the bureaucrats who comprise the new clerisy – find themselves, in turn, in a position to help the people and to turn loose their unique “expertise” on the problems plaguing society, whatever they may be.  And if the people object, well, that’s just too bad.  There is a reason that they have bureaucratic guardians that will do for them what they are incapable of doing for themselves.

The thing that we’re worried about with the Gruber revelations is the idea that people will come to think that the whole mess is just about health care, just about lying, and just about tax breaks.  But this is about so much more than Jonathan Gruber.  Gruber may be the poster boy for Progressive-bureaucratic arrogance and usurpation of power, but he is only one of its countless practitioners.  Every day in every bureaucracy at every level of government, the “experts” are doing their very best – mostly with perfectly innocent and noble intentions – to do what they believe is best for the people, regardless of what the people themselves think  On questions of health care, immigration, transportation, education, national defense, employment law, and far too many other subjects to list, the bureaucrats are toiling away, doing their jobs, making the world a better place, whether the people like it or not.  That’s their job.  That’s their lot.  That’s their ideology.

How did this happen you ask?  How did we get here?  How did the capitalist powerhouse come to be dominated by bureaucrats, wonks, and Progressive philosopher-kings?  Well, it’s complicated, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.  As we see it, and as we believe history demonstrates, all of the ideologies that emerged in the Western World in the wake of the upheaval caused by World War I and the Great Depression were Leftist, collectivist in nature.  The Germans embraced National Socialism.  The Italians, fascism.  The Russians took on Communism, while the Brits, the French, and the Americans adopted Progressive-bureaucratism.

As the World War II drew to a conclusion, these great Leftist ideologies clashed.  Nazism and fascism were roundly defeated.  Communism and Progressive-bureaucratism survived, but fell into further conflict with one another.  The Cold War was not, as most people believed, a clash between Communism and Capitalism or between Right and Left.  Rather, it was a clash between two forms of Leftism, a radical form and a more “organic,” slower-moving version.  The overt, impatient millenarianism of communism produced a collapse of democratic governance immediately and of society eventually.  But that did not exactly leave Progressive-bureaucratism as a victor.  Instead, this Weberian-Wilsonian version of collectivism plodded onward, benefitting from the collapse of its adversaries but always, slowly and surely, usurping democratic power and establishing a dictatorship of the bureaucracy.  The EU today is unquestionable an anti-democratic bureaucratic mess, with extensive power to limit personal liberty and enforce the “common good.”  Likewise, the United States is gradually, gently headed in the same direction.  Niskanen and Lowi described the mechanism.  The political class put it into practice.  And Jonathan Gruber, bless his heart, gave us all a peek behind the curtain.

At the top of this piece, you may recall, we stated the general theory of communism and promised one of our own with respect to bureaucratism.  Unfortunately, the two are one and the same.  Like communism, bureaucracy is a nice idea in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.  It cannot work in practice.  The warnings about “checks on power” left behind by Weber are uselessly vague and of little value in the practical protection of individual liberty.  Bureaucracy is slower, more deliberate, and less ostentatious than communism.  But it eventually gets to the same point.

It strangles liberty.  It snuffs out popular sovereignty.  It eventually and inevitably destroys the spirit of a free people, leaving in its wake, death, destruction, and a society completely stripped of functioning institutions.

Bureaucracy can, in theory, be checked, on the one hand, within a framework of mutually limiting power structures and, on the other, by ensuring that bureaucratic organizations were themselves subordinate to the control of individual leaders selected on the basis of nonbureaucratic principles and acting under such principles.”  But as Weber didn’t say it, but certainly thought, “Good luck with that.”

 

Copyright 2014. The Political Forum. 8563 Senedo Road, Mt. Jackson, Virginia 22842, tel. 402-261-3175, fax 402-261-3175. All rights reserved. Information contained herein is based on data obtained from recognized services, issuer reports or communications, or other sources believed to be reliable. However, such information has not been verified by us, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness, and we are not responsible for typographical errors. Any statements nonfactual in nature constitute only current opinions which are subject to change without notice.