Category Archive 'Administrative State'
18 Jul 2019
Brett Stevens points out that the Administrative State adds an awful lot of costs.
Take a detour now to a grocery store. For sake of argument, let us say that you are buying a single lime. Maybe you need a mid-day margarita after all of this government drama; maybe you are seasoning fajitas. Either way, you just need to pick up a lime.
It costs $0.79 for a single lime. This is for a fruit that grows on trees even within your region, which in theory should be harvested by cheap illegal alien labor, and delivered with our ultra-efficient transportation system. Why is is so expensive?
The following approximate estimates tell you approximately where your $0.79 is going:
Sales tax (6.25%). Since this is a food item, you do not pay sales tax, but if it were anything else, you would pay an additional six cents. This would go to your local tax authority, of which four cents would go to the schools which have decided that they must admit illegal aliens, offer psychological care, have police officers on staff, have speech therapists, and add many more administrators to cover paperwork arising mostly from court cases which cause schools to handle students carefully.
Taxes passed along (20%). The businesses which grow, transport, resell, and ultimately sell these fruits all pay taxes. They calculate those taxes into the cost of every item. This includes gasoline and road taxes, property tax, and income tax.
Insurance (5%). Lawsuits take up a lot of money, and it costs about $250k just to defend against one, and much more to take the case to its conclusion. Every lawsuit payout gets added on to what insurance charges businesses, and they pass it on to you.
Regulations (10%). Voters love regulations. â€œWell, itâ€™s in the law then, and thatâ€™s that!â€ Each regulation written creates bureaucrats on the government side, and in every business that has to deal with them. Their salaries get passed onâ€¦ to you.
Affirmative action (20%). Companies get sued when they do not have enough sexual, religious, and ethnic minorities hired. Government can in fact seize the company. As a result, they hire lots of these people, mainly because any time you hire someone for what they are instead of their abilities, you get incompetents, so you have to double- or triple-staff each position.
All of these costs, created by government and its machinations, get socked to you at the end of the day. Now think about the total cost per shopping trip, times number of shopping trips per year. Think about how everything â€” mortgage, healthcare, internet, car â€” includes similar cost breakdowns.
Then add the taxes you pay: property, sales, income, and the various hidden taxes like registration fees, licensing, and fines.
Where does all this money go? Government becomes an industry if allowed because it is external to society, managing society as a means to an end, which is a combination of government and whatever ideology powers it.
Our economy has become contorted by government, which is now one of its largest industries, if you add up both direct and indirect costs like bureaucrats, consultants, lawyers, and politicians.
11 Jul 2018
George Will explains what Socialism in America would look like if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came into power.
[I]f America had a socialist government today, what would it be like?
Socialism favors the thorough permeation of economic life by “social” (aka political) considerations, so it embraces protectionism â€” government telling consumers what they can buy, in what quantities and at what prices. (A socialist American government might even set quotas and prices for foreign washing machines.)
Socialism favors maximizing government’s role supplementing, even largely supplanting, the market â€” voluntary private transactions â€” in the allocation of wealth by implementing redistributionist programs. (Today America’s sky is dark with dollars flying hither and yon at government’s direction: Transfer payments distribute 14% of GDP, two-thirds of the federal budget, up from a little more than one-quarter in 1960. In the half-century 1963-2013, transfer payments were the fastest-growing category of personal income. By 2010, American governments were transferring $2.2 trillion in government money, goods and services.)
Socialism favors vigorous government interventions in the allocation of capital, directing it to uses that far-sighted government knows, and the slow-witted market does not realize, constitute the wave of the future. So, an American socialist government might tell, say, Carrier Corp. and Harley-Davidson that the government knows better than they do where they should invest shareholders’ assets.
Socialism requires â€” actually, socialism is â€” industrial policy, whereby government picks winners and losers in conformity with the government’s vision of how the future ought to be rationally planned. What could go wrong? (Imagine, weirdly, a president practicing compassionate socialism by ordering his energy secretary to prop up yesterday’s coal industry against the market menace of fracking â€” cheap oil and natural gas.)
Socialism, which fancies itself applied social science, requires a bureaucracy of largely autonomous experts unconstrained by a marginalized â€” ideally, a paralyzed â€” Congress. So, an American socialist government would rule less by laws than by regulations written in administrative agencies staffed by experts insulated from meddling by elected legislators. (Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s office displays two piles of paper. One, a few inches high, contains the laws Congress passed in a recent year. The other, about 8 feet tall, contains regulations churned out that year by the administrative state’s agencies.)
Socialism favors vast scope for ad hoc executive actions unbound by constraining laws that stifle executive nimbleness and creativity. (Imagine an aggrieved president telling, say, Harley-Davidson: “I’ve” â€” first-person singular pronoun â€” “done so much for you.”)
Today’s American socialists say that our government has become the handmaiden of rapacious factions and entrenched elites, and that there should be much more government. They are half-right. To be fair, they also say that after America gets “on the right side of history” (an updated version of after “the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”), government will be truly disinterested, manipulated by no rent-seeking factions, serving only justice. That is, government will be altogether different than it is, or ever has been. Seriously.
12 Jun 2017
John Tierney interviews renowned law professor Philip Hamburger, in the Wall Street Journal, on the appalling growth of the Administrative State.
Whatâ€™s the greatest threat to liberty in America? Liberals rail at Donald Trumpâ€™s executive orders on immigration and his hostility toward the press, while conservatives vow to reverse Barack Obamaâ€™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, theyâ€™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 â€œguidanceâ€ 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 Instituteâ€™s Hayek Prize last year for his scholarly 2014 book, â€œIs Administrative Law Unlawful?â€ (Spoiler alert: Yes.)
â€œEssentially, much of the Bill of Rights has been gutted,â€ he says, sitting in his office at Columbia Law School. â€œThe government can choose to proceed against you in a trial in court with constitutional processes, or it can use an administrative proceeding where you donâ€™t have the right to be heard by a real judge or a jury and you donâ€™t have the full due process of law. Our fundamental procedural freedoms, which once were guarantees, have become mere options.â€ â€‹
In volume and complexity, the edicts from federal agencies exceed the laws passed by Congress by orders of magnitude. â€œThe administrative state has become the governmentâ€™s predominant mode of contact with citizens,â€ Mr. Hamburger says. â€œUltimately this is not about the politics of left or right. Unlawful government power should worry everybody.â€
26 Jul 2013
The mad scientist Rotwang works on his Maschinenmensch in Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” (1927).
James Kalb contends that modern administrative liberalism successfully eliminates Religion, Nature, and Tradition from serious consideration in political questions of policy, but he remains optimistic for Conservatism’s ultimate victory.
[Today’s] situation is the result of the occupational outlook of those who run things in the West today. People who try to run a mass industrial society with a mixed and fluid population find it easiest to understand their task in accordance with a general scheme that emphasizes equality, technological rationality, and maximum preference satisfaction. Those committed to such a scheme have trouble making sense of traditional understandings based on a very different view of how the world works. Hence the difficulty social conservatives have making their case: their outlook is too much at odds with that of the influential public they hope to reach.
Still, political thought is more than an expression of institutional functioning and occupational perspective. Its highest use is to change and even transform how the social world works for the sake of a better way of life. With that in mind, it seems worthwhile to develop an account of public life and its relation to social conservatism that might aid those in responsible positions to understand the latter and how it functions.
For all the talk of diversity, todayâ€™s politics are extraordinarily uniform. The West lives under a single political regime, managerial liberalism, that combines an emphasis on individual choice and democratic values with domination of social life by experts, functionaries, and commercial interests. The liberal and managerial aspects of the system seem at odds with each other, but both are basic, and together they have led to the suppression of many things that have always been fundamental to human societyâ€”religion, cultural particularity, even the distinction between the sexes.
Unusual though the resulting form of society may be, people take it for granted, so much so that anything else seems impossible. No one can imagine a future, apart from chaos and tyranny, that is anything but more of the same; and those who want to roll back recent developments, to the â€™50s, for example, are considered out of touch or psychologically disordered. If you are skeptical about democracy, diversity, and choice, or if you do not trust the experts, there is something wrong with you. And if you think there is an authority that could call the regime into question, and even at times override it, you are a fanatical extremist.
What is going on? Why the uniform insistence on such an odd political orthodoxy in an age that supposedly believes in freedom, diversity, and reason?
Part of the answer is that political choices have narrowed as one alternative after another has been discredited and an exclusively technological attitude toward social life has taken hold. The First World War meant an end to traditional and multinational monarchies; the Second, an end to any serious European Right or strong conception of national sovereignty. Those and other upheavals made the administrative machinery of the state more all-encompassing and destroyed local traditions and respect for goals other than effectiveness and uniformity.
The world wars were followed by prosperity, TV, cheap jet travel, globalized markets, electronic communications, the contemporary welfare state, and a continued tendency toward the industrial organization of life. People today eat at McDonalds, children grow up in day care, and local establishments have been replaced by chain stores and the Internet. The two wars were also followed by the Cold War. As a modern war, the Cold War further centralized social life and increased government power; as a struggle of ideas, it made thought more ideological. Western governments became accustomed to social management based on grand slogans such as human rights. With the collapse of Soviet communism, the last nonliberal form of modern political life, such tendencies could unfold without external check.
Our current public order claims to separate politics from religion, but that understates its ambition. It aspires to free public lifeâ€”and eventually, since man is social, human life in generalâ€”not only from religion but also from nature and history. The intended result is an increase in freedom as man becomes his own creator. The effect, though, is that human life becomes what those in power say it is. Western political authorities now claim the right to remake the most basic arrangements. If you want to know the nature of man and the significance of life and death, you look to the political order and its authorized interpreters. That is the meaning of the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex unions and the transformation of abortion into a human right. Man has, in effect, become God, and politics is the authoritative expression of his mind, spirit, and will. …
What allows the managerial liberal regime to function are habits of loyalty and sacrifice, and understandings of natural goods and purposes, which it continually undermines and cannot justify or explain.
Hat tip to John Zmirak.
28 May 2013
This article by Jonathan Turley puts the impact of the rise of the Progressive Administrative State into perspective.
For much of our nationâ€™s history, the federal government was quite small. In 1790, it had just 1,000 nonmilitary workers. In 1962, there were 2,515,000 federal employees. Today, we have 2,840,000 federal workers in 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 nonmilitary sub-agencies.
This exponential growth has led to increasing power and independence for agencies. The shift of authority has been staggering. The fourth branch now has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all the other branches combined.
The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congressâ€™s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of â€œlawsâ€ governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.
This rulemaking comes with little accountability. Itâ€™s often impossible to know, absent a major scandal, whom to blame for rules that are abusive or nonsensical. Of course, agencies owe their creation and underlying legal authority to Congress, and Congress holds the purse strings. But Capitol Hillâ€™s relatively small staff is incapable of exerting oversight on more than a small percentage of agency actions. And the threat of cutting funds is a blunt instrument to control a massive administrative state â€” like running a locomotive with an on/off switch.
The autonomy was magnified when the Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that agencies are entitled to heavy deference in their interpretations of laws. The court went even further this past week, ruling that agencies should get the same heavy deference in determining their own jurisdictions â€” a power that was previously believed to rest with Congress.
Read the whole thing.
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