Saturday, September 7, 2013

Where the Power Is

Before I launch into this one, Gentle Reader, please heed the following:

You could read the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Philadelphia Inquirer on any given morning, and not be as well informed about developments that actually matter as you would be for having read Common Sense And Wonder.

The site is invaluable. I beseech you to include it on your morning surf.

By way of the abovementioned site, we have the following:

Living in a socialist country for 30 years of my life, and required to study the theory of Marxism/Leninism from elementary school through college, I am familiar with some distinct characteristics of socialism. They include:
  • Controlling people by making them dependent on government for basics such as medical care, property rights and income.
  • Applying separate standards in medical and other services for government employees and acolytes vs. the rest of society.
  • Brainwashing the population starting as early as possible with propaganda that is pro-central government and anti-free market capitalism.
  • Polarizing society by dividing people into groups by ethnicity.
  • Controlling speech, enforcing political correctness and attempting to suppress opposition media.
  • Collecting citizens' personal information using all resources available, including NSA programs.
  • Intimidating opposition through Justice Department investigations of journalists, IRS intimidation of groups and individuals who oppose government policies, and information collected on citizens that becomes quite handy.
  • Demonizing and destroying the livelihood of anyone — from members of the Tea Party to rodeo clowns — who dares to criticize the president.
  • Controlling economic resources via EPA and other regulations despite negative economic consequences.
  • Conducting show trials of freethinkers, such as the 13 felony counts brought against Internet prodigy Aaron Swartz, potentially leading to 30 years imprisonment.
  • Calling for sacrifices in the name of the collective good, promises of a bright future and endless lies about disastrous government failures here and now.

A prominent Soviet physicist, Lev Landau, defined the USSR's system as "a dictatorship of bureaucrats." It amounted to socialism, he said, "because the means of production do not belong to the people, but to bureaucrats."

The writer, Svetlana Kunin, knows whereof she speaks...and please note that she's speaking of The United States of America.

Two questions are front-and-center to freedom lovers in our day:

  • How did we get here?
  • How do we escape?

The second question is for another time. The first one has more than one answer, but for today, let’s examine it through the prism suggested by Lev Landau.

Whose decisions about you and yours are essentially unchallengeable? That is: what category of persons can override your preferences about your life, liberty, and property, and be practically certain of having the last word and not facing any cost nor penalty for having done so?

Sorry! No credit for any answer but "government bureaucrats." All other arrogant and overbearing life forms are subject to some form of correction, discipline, or reprisal. The bureaucrat -- the faceless source of innumerable rules and decisions, most of which are made in secret and without either Constitutional or statutory foundation -- is so well insulated from our wrath that he can almost never be identified and can never be fired, no matter how extreme his abuses.

Without the bureaucracies, this would still be a largely free country, de facto if not de jure.

Never imagine that bureaucracies are under the control of our "elected" executives and legislatures. They are not. Civil Service rules plus the ability to disclaim responsibility immunize them from anyone's displeasure, including presidents. If you doubt this, consider the sentiments of David L. Boren, for some years a United States Senator from Oklahoma:

Boren, formerly a state legislator and governor, went to Washington expecting to make some changes. "What impressed me most is the great power of the bureaucracy compared to that of elected officials. All the talk about growing control by the bureaucracy is not exaggerated. The shift in power is very real.... There is almost a contempt for elected officials."...

Senator Boren found, to his surprise, that a Senator has great difficulty even getting phone calls returned by the "permanent" employees, much less getting responsive answers to his questions.

The voters can't "throw the rascals out" anymore, because the main rascals are not elected but appointed....

Regulatory bureaucrats have extra power because they can outlast the elected officials. "Often," Boren explains, "I've said to a bureaucrat, 'You know this is not the president's policy.'

'True, Senator, but we were here before he came, and we'll be here after he leaves. We're not in sympathy with his policy. We'll study the matter until he leaves.'"

[From Armington and Ellis, MORE: The Rediscovery of American Common Sense.]

Look upon the naked, if anonymous, face of your true master, and be afraid.

Persons of my acquaintance have come under the wrathful eye of some bureaucrat and have found, to their extreme dismay, that they could not identify their assailant. Indeed, there are statutory provisions for the protection of the identities of Civil Service personnel; their supervisors, including those who must be confirmed by Congress, are barred from disclosing who issued what specific ukase at a specific private citizen. That protects the vengeful bureaucrat from any form of correction or discipline. Even when the name of the person who initiated an oppression somehow becomes known, the "honest mistake" excuse is infinitely serviceable.

Even an absolute monarch had to fear assassination. But what can be done about a nameless, faceless bureaucrat, situated in an unknown location, in a building protected by armed guards, who can dispatch armed men directly to your home or place of business -- armed men themselves protected from discipline by the Martinez-Barker doctrine -- to enforce a "rule" that might have no legislative or Constitutional grounds? Indeed, a "rule" that might never have been published?

There's much more to say about this, but I have a terrifying agenda for the day, and so, I must once again say, with great regret:

More anon.


Anonymous said...

I have been giving this some thought lately and I wonder if we will see a time in the future when "lone wolf" types may start surgical removal of the hydra heads of the bureaucracy in the alphabet departments. Not advocating it, but unlike the elected wonks, they may prove to be optimal targets.

Just sayin

F.J. Dagg said...

James Burnham foresaw this as early as 1940 and wrote about it in "The Managerial Revolution."

William Stout said...

Frankly, I believe the greater enemy of freedom is the press. While the bureaucracy is above the law and can hand down penalties without fear of reprisal, they can only do so if the press is their willing accomplice. Given the events of Benghazi, the weaponization of the IRS and FEC, and spying on the American people courtesy of the NSA and others, one would think that Americans would be up in arms over this President and his shenanigans. However, such is not the case. Why? Because the press has largely been silent about it.

The press acts as the look out while the politicians commit wrongs against the people and in the event that they are caught, the press diverts attention and deflects criticism. This was evidenced by the Journolist cabal that conspired to lie about Republicans while promoting Obama and by Media Matters talking points being used to report stories. Further, members of the press routinely donate to left leaning politicians in direct violation of ethics and employer guidelines. That these things should happen in a free society is telling. It means that you cannot trust the press as they have an agenda and they are following it.

That is why the previously mentioned scandals have not made ripples upon the waters of public thought. That is why political correctness is the order of the day. That is why we have descended into socialism and are steadily moving toward communism. I have witnessed reporters interview the far left who advocate and endorse the murder of President Bush and celebrate it as free speech. I have also witnessed these same people turn on a Rodeo clown when he jokes about the idiot in the White House, demand that he lose his livelihood, and brand him a racist to cap it all off. The difference between the two incidents? Bush was a Republican.

If it were not for the press, the Congress would be unable to pass legislation in the dead of night. They would not be able to tell the American people, their employer, that they can know what is actually in the bill, when they pass the bill. It is why the Democrats could lock out the Republicans during committee meetings, it is why they froze out Republicans during the first weeks of Pelosi's rule as Speaker of the House (also freezing out the interests of the American people represented by them), and the list goes on.

While there is no question that the press has paid dearly for their partisanship, they still hold a great deal of sway over the minds of the public and they show no signs of relenting. If anything, they have become even more polarized. If one can point to a true enemy of freedom, it is the national press who pass off political opinion and propaganda as fact and they do so with a smirk upon their face.

The adversarial role between Fox News and the White House demonstrates what happens when a reporter doesn't carry water for the Democrats. Your invitations to special events gets misplaced, your reporters get branded criminals by the Department of Justice, and the White House does not treat you as a legitimate news organization. Tote the line however, and you can even get to sleep in the White House as ABC News got to do for their support of the train wreck known as Obamacare.

Make no mistake, the press is an enemy of freedom and of the American people. If we cannot wake up to that fact, then we will never be able to recover our homeland because the press will fight us every step of the way by stabbing us in the back and cutting our Achilles tendon every chance they get.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

WS: "That these things should happen in a free society is telling."

That our society can yet be characterized as "free" is the only quibble I have with your otherwise cogent comment.

Ronbo said...

The only answer is the meat ax of REVOLUTION, the complete destruction of the current federal government, and starting all over again with a Second Republic!

Wombat said...


Find the buildings and burn them.

Burn them all.

nacnud62 said...

Read "Term Limits" by the late Vince Flynn. Perhaps the solution should be applied to 'faceless beareaucrats' rather than elected officials.