The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

US Polycracy

by Ron Shirtz

The number of gears in the government machine greased by taxpayer money is staggering. Currently, the US government has 15 major departments, with over 450 supporting and independent agencies. The breadth and depth of these alphabet soup bureaucracies is astounding. Did you know there is a government agency called the Office of Minority Health (OMH)? Are minorities’ physiologies different than the rest of the US population? I mean, don’t ALL Americans have the same concerns with health issues? Who knew? This illustrates the ongoing specialization and redundant creation of myriad organizations spawned by a nanny government. Pick an issue, any issue, no matter how small or insignificant, and – poof! – our progressive government creates ex nihilo another government ancillary to appease the sheeple’s concern that something is being done to address it.

Merely wasting taxpayer money, and ensnaring citizens with new regulations – regulations put in effect without congressional review by said agencies – would be bad enough. But a more sinister trend is occurring among these multitudes of government organizations – the accumulation of personal power. Newly appointed Secretary of the State, Hillary Clinton, is currently pursuing to widen the power to the State department before taking office. Ms. Clinton proposes a bigger budget, additional envoys, and a greater role in economic affairs. Her justification?

Mrs. Clinton’s push for a more vigorous economic team, one of her advisers said, stems from her conviction that the State Department needs to play a part in the recovery from the global financial crisis. Economic issues also underpin some of the most important diplomatic relationships, notably with China.

So our government, which has ripped off trillions in US citizens’ tax dollars via bailouts and the Federal Reserve, without accountability, now wants to assist in repairing the international financial crisis through the State Department? Under "Whitewater" Hillary Clinton? Ok, now if that isn’t the official starting gun for the worldwide apocalypse, nothing is.

This latest development, along with the recent clash between Biden and Cheney on the role of the Vice Presidency, confirms my growing suspicion that the departments in the US government are shifting from a vertical hierarchy to a horizontal network of competing agencies: a system otherwise known as a polycracy. A unique mutation of this polycracy includes the appointment of "Czars" – Drug Czar, Car Czar, Health Czar, Cyber Czar, et al. – all of whom become the proverbial too many cooks that spoil the broth. The habit of government to throw more money at a problem is nothing compared to its obsession to spawn whole litters of power-wielding appointees and boards to advise the advisors of the advisory committees. More ominous is that many agencies are given carte blanche for the unrestricted carry of firearms listed on John Lott's blog. They include Internal Revenue Service agents, Health and Human Services Department, and the Environmental Protection Agency. What, the EPA, armed? Why, so they can shoot litterbugs and non-recyclers? I do agree the Health and Human Services Department should carry guns – so they can mercifully give the coup de grace to those citizens who have suffered under their mediocre, "good enough for government work" care.

At the risk of abusing Goodwin’s Law, this expansion of US departmental power is reminiscent of the polycratic system in the Nazi government. According to "The Hitler State" by Martin Broszat, the Third Reich government resembled an "Organizational Jungle" of competing agencies. Historian Ian Kershaw makes the case that Hitler either sought or unconsciously allowed this "Political Darwinism" to take place to kill off the weak factions and to keep the stronger ones at each other’s throats – to occupy them from making a power grab for Hitler’s position. Only in such an environment could a virtually unknown, weak-chinned, bespectacled chicken hawk with metagaming Machiavellian skills rise to power and control both the internal security police and the State Praetorian Guard. And no, I am not referring to Dick Cheney, but Heinrich Himmler. But I can forgive the reader for mistaking one for the other.

In the Third Reich’s polycracy, Field Marshal Hermann Goering’s decision to field 30 infantry divisions with Luftwaffe personnel was not a desperate effort to provide more ground troops to fight the invading allied armies, but provide him with the muscle to hold his claim as designated heir to the Reich if and when Herr Adolph kicked the bucket. Employing scarce technically trained air personnel as infantry cannon fodder was a "Grosse" waste of Germany’s decreasing military resources. Yet Goering knew that in the resulting power vacuum following Hitler’s death, he would have to compete with Himmlers’s SS, as well as other Nazi polycracies, to secure his position as the new Führer. The current Tom Cruise flick, Valkyrie, is based on the attempted coup by German Colonel Stauffenberg to assassinate Hitler to save Germany from fiery Gottdamerung. Had the Stauffenberg plan succeeded, there was a possibility that a civil war would have erupted in Germany, with Wermarcht under Erwin Rommel fighting for governmental control. With the ongoing accumulation of power in individual US agencies, it is not difficult to imagine a similar political struggle occurring within our own government departments. While it is far-fetched to think a firefight would develop between competing US agencies, say for example between the IRS and the ATF, there would be few of us that would not pay good money to watch it. I know I would.

The evolution of our government organizations into a polycratic system is another warning sign that the checks and balances outlined in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers are being discarded. The increase of power and resources given to appointees and departments, instead of addressing the nation’s various ills, produces counter-productivity and jealous infighting among them. It leads to individuals carving out niches of personal power for their own agendas and benefit. One need to only study the history of the first Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and see how he used that agency as his own personal intelligence gathering and blackmail cartel. Should this growing polycracy within the US government continue unchecked, citizens will be subject to an increasing schizophrenic government having turf wars with itself – all in the name of supposedly promoting the general welfare of its citizens.

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