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What Would Sherman Say? Unaccountable America

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The Liberal Addiction to Bureaucracy

by Christopher Chantrill
April 02, 2011 at 6:59 pm

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THESE DAYS we do not judge people on the basis of good and evil. Instead of saying that something is evil, we say it is unhealthy. If someone is a drunk, we say he has an alcohol addiction. In the old days you purged the evil in your heart with confession and repentance. Modern addiction you treat with drugs and experts.

Take Elizabeth Warren and the remarkable new federal bureaucracy, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of which she is the head.

In this brand new agency we can see a great national problem that everyone ignores, pretending it isn’t there.

It is the liberal addiction to bureaucracy.

Why do liberals think that, after the failure of all their government programs in dysfunctional bureaucracy, this time is different? Perhaps it is time for them to break through their denial with a visit to the Addiction-Recovery section at their local independent bookstore.

Ms. Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, is a curious animal. It is not part of a regular executive department, but part of the Federal Reserve System. It is funded not from normal appropriations, but from the Fed’s profits. But it is not accountable to the Fed. It is accountable instead to the Financial Stability Council, which can overrule the bureau’s rules only with a two-thirds supermajority vote. Right now according to the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Warren and her bureau are working on a bureaucratic plan to “punish banks and reward voters with mortgage principal writedowns,” as if that will help turn around the continuing housing meltdown. As conservatives know, but liberals are reluctant to admit, the meltdown was caused at least in part by the bureaucratic Community Reinvestment Act and the bureaucratic holdover from the Great Depression once called FNMA, and now Fannie and Freddie.

Did I mention that Elizabeth Warren hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate and that the whole Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was her idea conjured up from a law-review article written back in 2003, “The Growing Threat to Middle Class Families.”

So that makes Ms. Warren similar to Samantha Power, the architect of the Libyan humanitarian intervention. Power published in 2003 a book on genocide, A Problem from Hell, caught the attention of Barack Obama, and now gets to use the entire United States military as her experimental laboratory.

Some people are discouraged by the way that bureaucracy is going rogue in the Obama administration, with unaccountable “czars” operating out of the White House protected from Congressional oversight, and the Warrens and Powers with their roving commissions to dodge around the defense in depth of the constitution’s separation of powers

But I think these clumsy attempts to hide their stash of bureaucratic booze indicate that we are approaching the crisis of liberal bureaucratic government.

Back in the good old days, liberals were proud of professional administration by experts. They boldly erected mainline cabinet departments to administer their comprehensive and mandatory reforms, and the names of their programs were on every tongue. But now, reduced to cunning and subterfuge by their failures, they stoop to bending the rules and gaming the system. That’s why they gamed ObamaCare to pretend it would save money and that people could keep their current health insurance. That’s why they have to hide Elizabeth Warren’s brainwave away in the Federal Reserve System, and Obama’s war on Libya is a humanitarian intervention.

The joke is that the liberals that erect these rigid, inflexible government programs are the same liberals that insist that the universe runs on evolution and adaptation, and that the planet is a fragile thing that should be protected from ruthless corporate exploitation by man and machine. The most exquisite analysis should be done before setting down a clunking great electrical transmission line for fear that it might damage the habitat of some minor rodent.

But when it comes to turning the financial system or the health care system upside down with untried ideas from some academic crank and profoundly affecting the lives of millions of people, it’s pedal to the metal and damn the consequences. Let’s pass the bill so we can see what is in it.

All in all, the liberal dynasty has had a good run, as political dynasties go. It set up its power base in the Progressive Era with its civil service reforms, its Federal Reserve Act, its income tax, and its popularly elected US Senate. It’s had a century of power in which it has taken government spending from seven percent of GDP to the present 40 percent.

The pity of it is that political dynasties never go quietly. Before they leave, they usually trash the place, and cause great suffering among ordinary people. Because people that seek political power don’t care about people, whatever they say. They care about power. They are addicted to it.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Responsible Self

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Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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