Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“Deep State”

     I keep citing this passage, yet it seems that few are paying attention:

[United States Senator from Oklahoma David L.] 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.]

     When Monmouth University polled private citizens about the “deep state,” only a minority (37%) were both familiar with the term and professed to be against the phenomenon it labels. Yet the matter is not so simple:

     Few Americans (13%) are very familiar with the term “Deep State;” another 24% are somewhat familiar, while 63% say they are not familiar with this term. However, when the term is described as a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy, nearly 3-in-4 (74%) say they believe this type of apparatus exists in Washington. This includes 27% who say it definitely exists and 47% who say it probably exists. Only 1-in-5 say it does not exist (16% probably not and 5% definitely not). Belief in the probable existence of a Deep State comes from more than 7-in-10 Americans in each partisan group, although Republicans (31%) and independents (33%) are somewhat more likely than Democrats (19%) to say that the Deep State definitely exists....

     The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from March 2 to 5, 2018 with a national random sample of 803 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 400 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 403 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).

     To me, the survey’s sampling method appears sound, and its questions well designed to minimize surveyor influence on the answers. But don’t take my word for it. Read the linked article and draw your own conclusions.

     If there is a body of persons who, individually or in aggregate, exercise more power than the elected officials of the federal government, we would be justified in pointing to them and saying “There is the true federal government. There is the ‘deep state.’” If we take Senator Boren’s comment on his dealings with the federal bureaucracy as sincere and at face value, and if the 75% of respondents to the Monmouth poll who believe there is such a body are correct in their surmise, we have a problem that goes well beyond anything we could correct by electoral means. But there’s that word if again. Is it so?

     Certainly, conditions are ripe for the emergence of such a body:

  1. Federal employees are protected from termination by Civil Service law.
  2. Voluntary resignations by federal employees are vanishingly few in number.
  3. Many layers of supervisors stand between the bureaucrat and the elected government.
  4. A supervisor-bureaucrat who fails to argue consistently for the expansion of his pyramid of subordinates (and, of course, the funding for it) will not survive. This is well known to career bureaucrats.
  5. As the funding for the bureaucracy is extracted by force from millions of persons who have no say in the matter, the top-level bureaucrat – e.g., a Cabinet Secretary – will have no qualms about championing the expansive desires of his subordinates. (Remember that by Item 4 above, Cabinet Secretaries also have an interest in expanding their departments and funding.)

     Those are perfect enabling conditions for a “deep state.” They’ve existed for decades. Thus those who:

  • Desire authority without responsibility;
  • Seek to wield it with their supervisors’ approval;
  • Are principally concerned with job security and retirement benefits;

     ...have had a perfect place to gather for at least eighty-five years. Is it plausible that persons of that orientation would not gather under such an umbrella? Isn’t it more likely that such persons would aim for those jobs and pursue them with impassioned ardor? And isn’t it likely, as is the case in union shops nationwide, that when such persons encounter a “maverick” – i.e., one whose schedule of priorities differs greatly from theirs – that they’d do their best to flush him out of their habitat?

     Cyril Northcote Parkinson wasn’t merely right; he was a visionary, a genius.

     Where shall we seek a solution?


Linda Fox said...

Start with SERIOUS reductions in the size of Departments, in addition to elimination/consolidation of most. Return to the original departments of the federal government.

Chop AT LEAST 1/2 of the State Department, that is not currently working in embassies overseas. People may save THEIR employment in some sort of job, IF they supply evidence of incompetence/skullduggery on the part of another employee (they can, then, get THAT job, once that person is gone).

Set everyone in opposition to each other - what the heck, televise the antics for the amusement of the population. OK, I'm kidding on that one.

However, I am serious about reduction. Individuals in every nook and cranny must be reduced. At the lowest level, 1/2 are to be recommended for removal. Don't replace them.

Once they are gone, their supervisors (and their superiors) will be subject to the 1/2 standard. Fair, since they will be in charge of 1/2 the staff. Turn over unspent money to federal debt reduction.

Jim Horn said...

The Founders accounted for that. All federal spending starts in the House of Representatives who are elected by the voters every two years. And the average such election is won by only 11 votes per presinct. So it is up to us to talk to and educate others. Franklin meant it when he said "...if you can keep it."

Thank you for doing *your* part, Francis. Now it's up to all of us.

Oldfart said...

I hate to have to say this but there is no way we'll ever vote our way out of this. Regardless of the margin of victory in any election, ballot measure or congressional vote, the results would be tabulated by those we sought to evict.

There is only one (1) way to defeat the deep state - and few even want to think about it, let alone talk about. Fortunately, others have thought and even written about it so all we have to do is read about it.

Matthew Bracken has written several books that touch on the subject but his short story "What I Saw at the Coup" covers the subject in some detail. I recommend it highly. It's on Amazon Kindle as part of "The Bracken Anthology."

Portions of some of his other stories seem to have been used as instruction manuals by some government agencies. Let's hope this one doesn't come to pass.