Thursday, May 23, 2013

Government Run Amok, aka "Government Gone Wild" ... The Practical Limits of the President's "SPAN OF CONTROL"

We have three branches of government as set forth in the U.S. Constitution. They are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

The executive branch is headed by the president and is charged with enforcing the laws as written by the legislative branch. Those laws as well as the provisions of the U.S. Constitution are interpreted by the judicial branch. The president is also Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces.

The Declaration of Independence says that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Our system of limited government as set forth in the Constitution separates the powers of those governing into three parts in order to control those in power and restrict them from limiting the rights of We the People.

At least those are the basic ideas underpinning our system of self-governance.

However, after two centuries, government administrative departments and agencies have grown to possess virtually unchecked and arbitrary powers, even though they are formally and theoretically under the express direction and control of the U.S. president.

The Founding Founders in no way anticipated the growth of the executive branch into what has become a huge, powerful and essentially unmanageable bureaucracy. But that's what has happened.

My guess is that President Obama, Attorney General Holder and others in the current administration came to their offices unfamiliar with, and totally unprepared to properly exercise, the profound issues and problems associated with "span of control" management associated with the government's administrative machinery. To surmise that they underestimated the challenges of management and "span of control" would be to make an accurate and enormous understatement. At least that's my admittedly uninformed but experienced based assessment of the current situation.

Here's the deal. An administrative agency or department often runs amok when uncontrolled. And a huge group of administrative agencies can't be properly managed, directed and controlled. It's simply not practical.

As a result, we have a government gone wild where individuals within the various agencies within the administrative branch (such as the IRS, FTC, SEC, DOE, DOT, FDA, Commerce, Labor, State and so forth) may decide to arbitrarily coerce and intimidate citizens to whom they are allegedly accountable. These agencies are out-of-control.

This simply means that as individual citizens we often come face to face with an administrative bureaucrat representing a government which is too big and without a practical sense of accountability to its duly designated "owners," We the People.

Exactly what we tried so hard to prevent at our Founding --- a government of men and not of laws --- is the practical result.

And that's in evidence most recently by the IRS targeting of conservatives, AP freedom of the press and Benghazi issues. At least that's my take.

Government Gone Wild is subtitled 'How Obama's "smart" government became abusive government' and fills in some of the details for us:

"Of all the excuses, explanations and alibis pouring forth in the saga of the IRS kneecapping of conservative groups during the victorious Obama 2012 campaign, the one that deserves attention is this from David Axelrod:            

"Part of being president is that there's so much beneath you that you can't know, because the government is so vast.". . .

The Cincinnati-did-it defense degraded this week when the IRS's Washington-based Lois Lerner lawyered up and invoked the Fifth Amendment before Rep. Darrell Issa's House committee. . . . Public officials don't hire lawyers to protect their jobs. They hire lawyers to stay out of the slammer.

But back to David Axelrod. It behooves us to focus on the implication in his assertion that the government has become too vast for a mere U.S. president to bear responsibility. This may be the most significant Freudian slip in 50 years.

Barack Obama was the president who on entering the White House promised an era of "smart government." It was Barack Obama who told graduates at Ohio State that the government is good. In that light, the Axelrod admission is historic. Historic because it was during Franklin Roosevelt's presidency that liberal policy makers and intellectuals promised good government forever via something called the administrative state—in which dedicated bureaucrats would carry out benevolent public policies designed by smart social scientists.

This belief is in a state of collapse, largely for the reason Mr. Axelrod described. In the first Obama term, the Obama Democrats enacted the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank. Both were supposed to represent the promise of a benign administrative state. Both these new laws are—in an awful but apt word—un-implementable. After decades of nonstop legislating, we've arrived at laws so "vast" and so complex that the bureaucracies cannot figure out how to implement them. . . .

In an article this week in the Hill newspaper, a reporter put to an official in the Obama administration the argument that the IRS scandal and the Justice Department's penetrations of the Associated Press and Fox News suggest the federal government has too much power. "I don't buy that," the official replied. "These things are totally newsworthy and valid points for conversation. But they don't string together to make a compelling philosophical argument."

Yes they do.

It isn't just these scandals. Rather than delivering good, smart or transparent government, the Obama policy squads are doing what happens after they realize the "good" model isn't working as they planned. Then we get what's coming to light now—government that coerces people or pushes past the law's limits. This is government gone wild. . . .

Then there is ObamaCare's Independent Payment Advisory Board. This 15-member panel will order change in the health-care industry. . . . a level of coercion—call it command-and-obey—that is alien to the American experience. . . .

The IRS audit scandal is this government's most famous break through the boundaries of the law. But arguably the greater grab for extralegal power was the president's 2012 "recess" appointments—overturned by an appellate court—to the National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mr. Obama's goal was to get two potent bureaucracies in motion producing command-and-obey rules. The recess appointments and Cincinnati audits spring from the same well.

The idea that banks can grow too big to fail is seen by many as a danger to the system. The proposition forcing itself into public discussion in the second Obama term is that the government in Washington can become too big to be good."

Summing Up

As do many others, I have a philosophical problem with big government.

That said, those supporting big government have an even bigger practical problem. It's unmanageable and uncontrollable in its present form and size.

The concept of span of control is real, and pretending otherwise doesn't change that simple fact.

Not even a little bit.

And finally, politics sucks.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.


No comments:

Post a Comment