According to Dictionary.com one definition of insane is “utterly senseless: an insane plan.” Insanity’s fourth definition is:
“A. extreme foolishness; folly; senselessness; foolhardiness:
Trying to drive through that traffic would be pure insanity.
B. a foolish or senseless action, policy, statement, etc.:
We’ve heard decades of insanities in our political discourse.”
Bureaucratic rule is exponentially expanding at all levels of government with the federal bureaucracy leading the way, driving state and local bureaus to keep pace. Bureaucratic rules accounted for 96.8% of all laws and rules created and enacted in 2015. Elected officials, the people voted for good or bad, only accounted for 3.2%. The trend has been evolving faster with each passing years since the 1930s but nothing has been as accelerated as the last 20 years. The Progressive Era belief that expertly managed administrative law is the answer to ending factional corruption is failing while quite the opposite is prevailing, factional corruption is expertly managing administrative law.
High school students learn about Iron Triangles and Issue Networks studying American Government. AP study guides boil down how true rules and regulations, with the force of law, are created beyond representatives or the people. Turning on the TV we may see ads and programs promoting various causes or news reports of specific aspects of daily life the government is talking about regulating. This is a natural part of the Issue Networks process as the mass media is one of five key players within the network that sets rules for the rest to follow. As taught to our high school students, creating rules and regulations consist of;
- Mass Media and Public Relations Firms
- Special Interest Groups and Political Action Committees
- Policy Experts, Think Tanks, Lobbyists, and Associations
- Congressional Staff & Committees, especially sub-committees
- Bureaucratic Agencies
In the Iron Triangle rules are crafted by three of the five; Special Interest Groups, Congressional Staff & Committees, and a Bureaucratic Agency. Bureaucracy is at the center and provides consistency from election cycle to election cycle. The people may vote for different congressional players (though 90% of incumbents are typically reelected in modern politics) but bureaucracies tend to stay intact through the political changes.
These agencies, and their supposed experts in their field, are the heart of what Woodrow Wilson saw as improving government. Moving away from factions and constitutional law into administrative law was the very goal of the Founders of our Progressive Era. This approach would “open for the public a bureau of skilled, economical administration,” according to Wilson. Progress can be made when the impact of voting is reduced and the skill of well-paid experts efficiently crafts, administers, and adjudicates the laws progressives were sure. Bureaucracy was a means to control factional chaos and cronyism rampant at the turn of the 19th to 20th century. Just as American Federalism held a vision of relief from factional influence in the everyday lives of citizens, progressivism also wanted to solve for divisional party control.
Over the past century regulatory governing has grown beyond Supreme Law as the number of bureaus creating rules has grown. For over 70 years congress has delegated rule-making to alphabet agencies who have structured their bureaus to resist political change. Once an agency or bureau is created it becomes impossible to close as bureaucrats build toward protecting their agency above all else, including common sense. The people are led to vote for representatives who will seldom have the ability to truly deliver beyond special interest pork. They can learn to skillfully play the seniority driven, lobby infused career games required to gain power. Party leaders will craft their campaigns for reelection and decide which positions a representative can compete for internally, also beyond the vote of the people. The internal campaign for the coveted majority or minority leader roles are an example of the sub-government at work inside the legislative branches. The result is a decades’ long shift in law making from congress, busy with committee work and constant campaigns, to administrative rule makers more than willing to grow their bureaus.
Administrative Law is proving negatively impactful more often than positively helpful for most citizens. The sheer volume of regulations is numbing to the average citizen attempting to simply live life. Bureaucracy is not solely a federal government progression, every level of state and local government has embraced administrative law although federal bureaus are growing in their ability to control state and local bureaus.
Through all this growth in bureaucratic rules factions have gained firm control. Iron Triangles and Issue Networks rely on congressional committees. Factions took control of legislative branches before the progressive transformation took hold in earnest. Majority and minority roles were created inside each branch, first federally and then in all state houses. This effectively eliminated bicameralism as it became nothing but a façade following the 17th Amendment. Committee appointments and senior roles sparked increased cronyism and prime targets for lobbyists. The political equivalent of cock roaches; nothing seems capable of killing off factional influence which always leads to tyranny for the people.
Since 1976 legislators, those we elect to oversee the laws we live by, only accounted for 5% of the laws, 95% were created as rules and regulations by bureaucrats over the past 20 years (4032 laws compared to 84310 rules). The percentage of laws by lawmakers has actually been decreasing during the country’s transformational years with 2015 showing only 3.2% of laws and rules coming from legislators instead of bureaucrats (114 laws compared to 3410 rules). 2016 is on pace to once again record a lower percentage for laws over rules.
Some point to the fact more rules were created in 1976 than in 2015 (7,401 to 3,410). This is true yet misses the fact rules written today are much larger and more complex than rules written in past decades. Just as laws have reached ridiculous numbers of pages few read before voting, rules and regulations have also ballooned in the number of pages needed to attempt to explain them. Pages for explaining the rules is nearly double in 2015 compared to 1976 (24,861 to 12,589).
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s 2016 report, Ten Thousand Commandments, the cost for compliance is $1.885 trillion dollars, a hidden tax that now is greater than the total collected through income taxes, which is $1.82 trillion dollars. Sadly, the hidden tax is often unseen but felt through price increases, service decreases, and overall suppression in the buying power of those striving to earn a living or embrace retirement. Hidden taxes often impact citizens making a lower income while also leading to more slipping from middle income to lower income in a year over year comparison.
We are on the brink of 100% bureaucratic rule, this is not fantasy, conspiracy, or hype. Many seeking our votes declare their readiness to continue the march toward total progressive transformation, after all, we’re told, we cannot give up the gains we have made in helping the poor and disadvantaged among us. There’s no longer any doubt corruption is rampant in all branches of government and the bureaucracy truly is the center of power which structurally provides the executive more authority than Supreme Law grants. Power also gives insight into why many politicians reaching their 70s and 80s don’t want to retire but instead campaign for just one more term as their seniority is hard to give up.
People must decide if this transformation toward central control is insane or the best way for our country to govern. If it is not the best way to govern it is time to reconsider American Federalism. Federalism is the one system granted under Supreme Law and the one which can be restored peacefully through much effort as bureaucrats and long-term politicians won’t give up control easily. With the lessons learned from our past we can structure restoration to embrace the good advancements we’ve made while defending against future assaults by factional bureaucracy. Liberty is simple yet far from easy. Freedom is confusing when explained by those seeking to take both freedom and liberty away. Are you ready to discuss restoring American Federalism or is the very notion of restoration insane?
“The Progressive Era has been hailed by historians as the time America came of age. In truth, it was the time when America sacrificed liberty, privacy, stability, and neutrality to be more like Old World countries immigrants to American were fleeing.” Harry Browne, Why Government Doesn’t Work