12 Jun 2017

The Tyranny of the Administrative State

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John Tierney interviews renowned law professor Philip Hamburger, in the Wall Street Journal, on the appalling growth of the Administrative State.

What’s the greatest threat to liberty in America? Liberals rail at Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration and his hostility toward the press, while conservatives vow to reverse Barack Obama’s regulatory assault on religion, education and business. Philip Hamburger says both sides are thinking too small.

Like the blind men in the fable who try to describe an elephant by feeling different parts of its body, they’re not perceiving the whole problem: the enormous rogue beast known as the administrative state.

Sometimes called the regulatory state or the deep state, it is a government within the government, run by the president and the dozens of federal agencies that assume powers once claimed only by kings. In place of royal decrees, they issue rules and send out “guidance” letters like the one from an Education Department official in 2011 that stripped college students of due process when accused of sexual misconduct.

Unelected bureaucrats not only write their own laws, they also interpret these laws and enforce them in their own courts with their own judges. All this is in blatant violation of the Constitution, says Mr. Hamburger, 60, a constitutional scholar and winner of the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize last year for his scholarly 2014 book, “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?” (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

“Essentially, much of the Bill of Rights has been gutted,” he says, sitting in his office at Columbia Law School. “The government can choose to proceed against you in a trial in court with constitutional processes, or it can use an administrative proceeding where you don’t have the right to be heard by a real judge or a jury and you don’t have the full due process of law. Our fundamental procedural freedoms, which once were guarantees, have become mere options.” ​

In volume and complexity, the edicts from federal agencies exceed the laws passed by Congress by orders of magnitude. “The administrative state has become the government’s predominant mode of contact with citizens,” Mr. Hamburger says. “Ultimately this is not about the politics of left or right. Unlawful government power should worry everybody.”

RTWT

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Seattle Sam

The Competitive Enterprise’s annual report on Federal regulations (https://cei.org/sites/default/files/Ten%20Thousand%20Commandments%202017.pdf) puts the annual cost at just shy of $2 Trillion. That’s 10% of the entire US gross domestic product. It also averages $15,000 per household. In calendar 2016 Congress enacted 214 laws and Federal agencies issued 3853 rules. That’s 18 rules for every law enacted.

And you wonder why economic growth has slowed? And you wonder why people feel they’re struggling to support a $15,000 hidden tax on them every year?



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