Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Quick Thought From CPAC 2017

     No, I wasn’t there. However, I’ve read transcripts of some of the events, and have watched a few videos, and nothing has impressed me more than one lone phrase from a single speaker. Here’s Stacy McCain’s report:

     President Trump is “maniacally focused” on keeping the promises he made to America during his campaign, White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday during a panel with chief of staff Reince Priebus. That includes enforcing immigration law — “protecting the sovereignty of the United States,” as Priebus said — and an agenda of deregulation that Bannon called the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”

     I added the emphasis.

     The bureacratic / regulatory apparatus of the federal government is the most difficult of its excrescences to cope with. Bureaucrats are largely immune to effective discipline, a privilege your representatives and senators surely wish they could share. Worse, they arrogate all sorts of authority that confounds the typical private citizen, who has no idea if it’s based on actual statute law. And of course, an ever increasing fraction of them goes about armed...some with fully automatic weapons.

     What I’d like to comment on just now is the intimacy between rule-by-bureaucrat and unConstitutional laws. More than 90% of the laws Congress has passed over the century behind us have no Constitutional foundation. Most federal legislators are aware of that, though they’d never publicly admit it. Moreover, many of those laws are so long and so convoluted that no one has ever read them in their entirety. In consequence, no one really knows what they say.

     No legislator would want to be responsible for the implementation or enforcement of such a law. For that, Congress needs an arm it can wield at a distance. The answer that pops out of the slot is the federal bureaucracy.

     This has three major advantages for Congress:

  • First, the odium for the enforcement of such laws falls elsewhere than on the legislators who enacted them.
  • Second, the bureaucracy provides legislators with a political whipping boy, who can inveigh against abstract “bureaucracy” and provide relief from bureaucratic action as “constituent services.”
  • Third, the bureaucracy can be used as a weapon against disliked private citizens, unpopular organizations, and opponents of sitting Congressmen, without directly implicating the Congressmen using it thus.

     This was a “good thing” for a long time, not for private citizens but for legislators and bureaucrats. However, Americans have caught on in record numbers, which is a large part of why Donald Trump has gained the presidency. It’s clear both from Bannon’s statement above and Trump’s own remarks that the new Administration is resolved to do something about it. In that effort I wish President Trump, consigliere Bannon, and the rest of the team every imaginable success.

     I’ll be back later with something meatier.

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