No Matter Who Wins in November, the Federal Bureaucracy Will Grow

Doom is just around the corner regardless of who wins the Presidency

By William M Briggs Published on March 13, 2016

Lots of election hand wringing out there. Doctors complain of a tsunami of dyspeptics, psychologists are inundated by the anxious, even masseuses aren’t able to kneed the knots of stress quickly enough. Everybody is asking: Will American Bern in November? Will an army of Trumpites rise and devour the land like locusts? Will Washington be Cruzified and cast into darkness? Or will the Purple Pant-Suited Monster unleash a cackle of destruction of Biblical proportion?

One of these fates we’ll suffer, that much is certain, and surely some of these banes are worse than others. But which we end up with really won’t matter much one way or the other. Why?

Because the body politic is infected by an incurable cancer, one that grows inexorably regardless of the treatment applied. That cancer is the bureaucracy. The disease is non-localized, systemic; its tendrils have reached into every organ and system of governance. Its pervasiveness is why treatment is futile. Even if we could cut the cancer out, the surgery would kill the patient. Prognosis? Terminal. Here’s my proof.

Forget about the metaphysical absurdity of the government insisting two men can be “married.” It also decided, via Supreme Court fiat, the definition golf. You might have thought how citizens play games would have been none of the government’s business, but you’re wrong. The government thinks everything is its business.

In 2001, in the case PGA Tour, Inc versus Martin, our government determined, as the late Antonin Scalia wrote in dissent, “What Is Golf?” “The Court ultimately concludes,” he said, “and it will henceforth be the Law of the Land, that walking is not a ‘fundamental’ aspect of golf.”

Meddling in golf is a small thing. Here’s something bigger. The government has told Rolls-Royce Deutschland Ltd “that the stage 1 HPT disk, P/N JR32013” for its “Tay 650-15 and Tay 651-54 turbofan engines,” will now require “further cyclic life limit reduction.”

Imagine how long it took for Rolls-Royce Deutschland to master the expertise to build these intricate and dependable and, it has to be admitted, hideously complex engines. Then realize that the government must know more, or pretend to know more, than Rolls-Royce about those engines in order to regulate them. Government intervention might be sensible, but only under one circumstance: if government is staffed with geniuses smarter than the engineers at Rolls-Royce. Is it?

The feds have also decided, doubtless after long deliberation, to allow “a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the S37 Bridge across the Barnegat Bay, mile 14.1, New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway, at Seaside Heights, NJ.” This allowance logically implies there is a federally directed routine operating schedule.

The government also saw to it, under the Change in Bank Control Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)) and § 225.41 of the Board’s Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.41), that Margaret M. Brownlee (among others) will be allowed to “to retain voting shares of Bank Management, Inc.”

These examples could go on and on — and in fact they do. The handful shown are culled from the list of proposed regulations for just one day and listed helpfully on the site There were 58 new regulations on the day I accessed the site, Friday, 11 March 2016. Fridays are slow days, especially in government offices. We know this because over the last 90 days there were 5,767 new regulations and (as of that same date) at least 1,206 more to come over the next 90 days. That’s roughly 24 thousand new regulations per yer, a rate which ever increases.

The scope is awesome. Everything from jet engine maintenance to Reclassification of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Devices Intended for Use in Treating Severe Major Depressive Episode in Patients 18 Years of Age and Older Who are Treatment Resistant or Require a Rapid Response to Fishing Restrictions for the Area of Overlap between the Convention Areas of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to anything you can think of, really.

It’s all there and all under government control. Why? Try suggesting that the government shouldn’t regulate aircraft maintenance schedules. You’d probably convince a majority that it’s needless. But there would be a small, vocal minority which is utterly certain that if the government ceased its micro-oversight, planes would drop out of the sky. What about the children?

This skittishness, which is everywhere, accounts for part of the inexorable growth of the bureaucracy. The other cause is that once a regulation is in place it is soon realized it is not specific as it should have been. And so it is amended, added to; it divides like a well-fed paramecium.

Here’s where the doom arises. Outside government, a horde of lawyers, lobbyists, compliance personal, and administrative staff are required to follow, implement, and assure adherence to the ever-increasing list of regulations. Pretty soon, nothing new will get done and all time will be spent placating the government.

And, like I said, this will happen regardless of who is our new president. Though some of the candidates will bring about the end sooner rather than later.

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