Have the stupidity and pathetic incompetence of our politicians reached the low point where we can just write them off and ignore them? The happy fact is that they can not govern. They can not run their own operation of steal-and-spend.
The government is currently “shut down”, or at least that small portion of it that is not on auto-pilot. Two thirds of government expenditures – the so-called entitlements of welfare, healthcare and retirement benefits – are uncontrolled, unbudgetable, unstoppable. The military is engaged in perpetual wars with no purpose, and continuous “upgrading” of its weaponry with no end in sight. The justice department has become criminal.
Nor can the politicians get anything done when the government is not shut down. According to Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal recently, gridlock is the new normal for our political class. Because their instincts are all negative, and because politics is all about losing, the politicos have reached the point where they are against everything and for nothing. They block everything and approve nothing.
Sadly, however, the descent of our politicians into comprehensive incompetence does not make us citizens any freer. In fact, the opposite. For, since the politicians can not govern, they have delegated the task to the administrative state, those departments, agencies and sub-agencies of the federal government. The Federal Register indicates that there are over 430 of them, but no-one truly knows, as there are different numbers provided by The Administrative Conference Of The United States, The Justice Department, The United States Government Manual, and The Federal Register. (cei.org) The politicians actually do not know how many agencies they have created.
However many agencies there are, they employ around 2 million people (hard to say how many exactly when we don’t know who or what they work for) and these are the people who do the real governing.
These are the faceless middle class bureaucrats and apparatchiks who live in and around the Washington DC area in the most prosperous counties in America, and who lord it over us by means of federal regulation. Just as we don’t know the number of government agencies, we also don’t know the number of laws and regulations. The Justice Department once tried to count them but, after two years of effort, gave up.
The apparatchiks consequently have free rein. They are the tax collectors, rule-writers, compliance officers, enforcers and cops who compose the 3000 or so new federal regulations each year, and then take their joy in enforcing them on the hapless citizenry. They govern how you raise and educate your children, how you handle your garbage, how many fish you can catch, how to manage that puddle on your farm that the bureaucrats count as part of The Waters Of The Untied States, what kind of gun or knife you can and can’t have , how your food must be labeled, and how to affix postage stamps to envelopes.
In the book Judicial Fortitude: The Last Chance to Rein In The Administrative State, Peter J Wallison lays out how the politicians have completely delegated governing to these administrative agencies and the staffers who are the new bureaucratic kings. While it is completely unconstitutional – the Constitution does not permit the delegation of law making by Congress, yet they have done so – it is now so far advanced that only the courts can stop it.
But the courts and the judicial system are the government, too. So, true to form, they also delegated their job to the administrative state. In a 1984 Supreme Court case called Chevron USA Inc vs Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc, the Supreme Court decreed that lower courts must give deference to an administrative agency’s interpretation of any statute or regulation that it administers. In other words, the law is whatever the administrative agency says it is and they are free to make any enforcement rule and design any regulatory interpretation of a statute. Until the so-called “Chevron deference” is reversed, we citizens are completely at the mercy of the Washington DC apparatchiks. These two million bureaucrats are our true rulers.
Can we ignore them, or defy them? Sure we can, with the appropriate risk-reward calculation. We can work for cash and not declare it to the IRS bureaucrats. We can smoke marijuana in defiance of the feds. We can drain a pond and not ask permission from the EPA. The home schooling movement has been built entirely on defying the federal education enforcement troopers and has now grown to the point where it is becoming unstoppable. But the bureaucrats are not as incompetent as the politicians. They will get their man, or woman. They will extract their pound of flesh, plus a fine for late payment. They will spy and surveil, they will threaten and lie in court, they will prosecute and fine. They are now our rulers.