Dionne’s horror at the thought of America as it once was …


" …  But then came the third: the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Bannon explained that officials who seem to hate what their agencies do — one thinks especially of Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has sued it repeatedly to the benefit of oil and gas companies — were “selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.”

Thus did Bannon invoke the trendy lefty term “deconstruct” as a synonym for “destroy.”

This is a huge deal. It reflects a long-standing critique on the right not just of the Obama and Clinton years but of the entire thrust of U.S. government since the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Critics of the administrative state — “the vast administrative apparatus that does so much to dictate the way we live now,” as Scott Johnson, a conservative lawyer and co-founder of the Power Line blog, put it in 2014 — see it as unconstitutional because regulatory agencies make and enforce rules based on authority they claim was illegitimately ceded by Congress.

That’s the theory. In practice, this is a war on a century’s worth of work to keep our air and water clean; our food, drugs and workplaces safe; the rights of employees protected; and the marketplace fair and unrigged." Washpost


Well, this is interesting, and I think correct in the appreciation of just what it is that Bannon and company seek as a reward for their efforts.

It should be noted that Trump's expected budget proposal will not seek to reduce the benefits involved in Medicare and Social Security.  These were campaign promises and he evidently will honor them.  In any event SS is not insolvent and does not contribute to the present federal budget deficit.

What Bannon seems to propose is a roll-back of federal function to levels that he thinks reflect the amount of power ceded by the original states when they ratified the constitution.

Would this be such a bad thing?

For the Progressive Left it is a HORROR!  The Left is wedded to the idea tht the federal government should administer our lives.

It will be interesting to learn if the majority of Americans share the love the "administrative state" as much as the Left does.  pl 


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65 Responses to Dionne’s horror at the thought of America as it once was …

  1. FEDERALISM underlies governance in the United States. Trump employed Dr. Sam Clovis in his campaign. An expert on FEDERALISM. Trump if he tackles FEDERALISM issues and policy could become a great President IMO!
    And the Congressional Budget Office Congress should establish a permanent Joint Committee on FEDERALISM reviewing each bill for FEDERALISM impacts.

  2. bks says:

    Yes let’s go back to smoggy cities and a dead Lake Erie. And take away health coverage from those who need it. And give Trump’s rich pals a tax break. That’s Making America Great Again.

  3. Degringolade says:

    I am not at all uncomfortable with the idea of the Administrative State being downsized.
    But I think that a lot of my fellow guv’mint workers had better get used to the idea that they are not “guaranteed” a job for life. This goes for all levels and all departments of government.
    I am hoping for enough political argument to occur that I will be able to complete my 2.75 years until I can retire.
    But, the truth is, if this thing gets any kind of traction, my retirement might well be pretty sorry. SS and a Gov’t pension are sorta-kinda one of the problems that might get looked at really hard in the readjustment.
    It would kinda suck for me personally, but my kids would probably be better for it.

  4. Fred says:

    Yes the great non-bailed out Ford Motor Company will start making gas guzzling behemoths and dump toxic sludge into the burning river that is the Cuyahoga because secularism forbid the Governor of Ohio and the elected legislature prevent that from happening. It’s not like Ohio could pass a law or anything. Though I’m sure the first priority for Governor Kasich will be to tell everyone what bathroom they should be using.

  5. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is a bilateral forum that meets twice a year, if I recall correctly, in regards to the Great Lakes, between the United States and Canada.
    The forum consist of delegates from each state or province that has access to the Great Lakes and discusses the issues pertaining to the joint usage of the Great Lakes as well as their condition etc.
    What impact, if any, would this “New Federalism” have on the composition of this forum and it agenda?
    Can you comment?

  6. Your kids will not be the better for it, they’l be stuck taking care of you. Then later it will be their turn on the chopping block. The real solution is to increase tax rates on the top 1%. Trump himself still owes a billion. There is somewhere around $10 trillion stashed in offshore bank accounts. The “makers vs. takers” thing is baloney.
    Putting government workers back out on the jobs market won’t do anything except increase the competition for jobs, therefore it lowers all wages. There will be less high-paying jobs, not more. Simple economics.
    Insofar as the “administrative state” can be interpreted as too many regulations, this is not unusual. Regulations come and go, all the time. But deregulating the financial system is nonsense, we will be bailing them out again.
    Cutting the rest of gov’t to put $54 billion into Defense won’t create jobs either. More likely economic discontent, leading to another war.
    When that big iceberg breaks off Antarctica, we may “deconstruct” the oil and gas industries instead.

  7. steve g says:

    Welcome back. Missed your voice!!

  8. Tyler says:

    Three posts in and we’ve already got someone claiming a parade of horribles awaits us if even one of the thousands of GS-9 bureaucrats employed to regulate our lives is let go.
    “A slave is one who waits for another to free him.” Haven’t had to dust off that one in a while.

  9. r whitman says:

    If you want a deconstructed state, go live in Northern Mexico.

  10. annamissed says:

    Apparently the Trump/Bannon administration is following the Howe/Strauss
    notion outlined in the “Fourth Turning”. Creative destruction of dysfunctional institutions, as they have failed to reform themselves. Are they then simply eliminated or is their function circumvented with a new leaner institution?

  11. Both countries have ratified Interstate and intrastate compacts for their participating provinces and states. Thus, they act as delegates of federal power for the border.

  12. turcopolier says:

    r Whitman
    That seems a trivial remark. Trump is nor proposing to de-construct DHS or the FBI. pl

  13. Much of the federal power under the so-called CWA Clean Water Act] really the Federal Water pollution Control Act of 1972 has been delegated to the States. Best example-Flint, Michigan!

  14. Plse don’t confuse the Administrative State with either the Commerce Clause of the Constitution or the Supremacy Clause! Many federal entities just hand out money and are not regulators.

  15. BTW the FBI has almost 40,000 FTE but less than 13,000 are Gold Badge Agents.

  16. President Clinton reduced federal civil service ranks by 400,000 FTE.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Can a state withdraw from that compact?

  18. No state or individual should have to incur costs externalized by the behavior of other states or persons. An easy example of this is pollution, but there are many other policies which can effectively shift burdens to other states.
    For example, I live in Minnesota and one problem we have is that we attract people from other states because we have one of the more generous welfare states in the country. If there isn’t some parity–which will almost have to be federally mandated, we will continue to be a gathering place for welfare recipients. It’s just one example of a need for some federal intervention in affairs that originally were delegated to the states.
    We have a very good standard of living here, including a low unemployment rate and a vigorous Pollution Control Agency. We shouldn’t have to incur additional costs that externalized by the policies of other states.

  19. Degringolade says:

    Tyler, Mr. Cumming, Mr Arnold:
    I have a feeling that we will all be surprised by how things turn out on this whole deal.
    I wish I had your certainty, but change is not always what it is thought to be, or does change necessarily benefit those who seek it most earnestly.
    What I think is that change is coming. It looks to me that we are moving into a time of suckage. This sure as hell doesn’t look like a “win” to me.
    But in another way I can agree with Tyler’s sentiments about the histrionics. Most of the folks who squeal about the changes start flogging the “we are going backwards” horse. I don’t think that we will return to smoggy cities and a dead Lake Erie anytime soon. The factories that accomplished that are over in China killing their environment. Tax structure will be useless without spending reform.
    Nope, we are going to an unknown, different place. We aren’t going back.

  20. Ante says:

    Let’s bring Jobs back to America and Let’s Dismantle The EPA are not a good combination of policy proposals.
    The government is bloated, inefficient, full of redundancies, huge corporations are too, but let’s never mention that. The parts of the state that actually matter are constantly under political attack and operate with less than they should, like the EPA and the IRS. Regulatory capture ensures that the justice department and sec ignored the crimes of big banks, while agencies that wished to take the fight had resources redirected around them.
    Meanwhile, spending on dubious wars is fine. Small dandruff flake sized pieces of those budgets could pay for lots of things beneficial to the American people. They won’t even allow a proper audit, the corruption is comical.
    As for federalism, it’s a dilemma. Big outside money buys small state elections with such ease that all it took was the combo of democrats being a sclerotic party of finance and republicans dumping in money and doing a little campaigning to win a huge majority of the important elected positions at the state level. Is that really representative of what people want? When neither party actually offers solutions to the state’s problems, what next?

  21. r whitman says:

    I meant that the deconstructed state Bannon proposes already exists. He should go there. Trump has not proposed deconstructing anything. His only proposal is to cut some money from the EPA and State Dept. and get rid of some inconsequential federal rules.

  22. Fred says:

    I know it is news to many but Flint had a water treatment system prior to 1972.

  23. Matt says:

    The right gives lip service to loving the Constitution when in fact what they really admire is the Articles of Confederation. The right hates the Constitution.

  24. Tyler says:

    Head to Sweden if you want your socialist utopia.
    Look out for grenades tho.

  25. Brunswick says:

    When the EPA was formed, one of the things that they rid, was document the state of pollution with photo journalists,
    Trump’s made “dumping stuff in crick’s” legal again,
    Black Lung benifits are tied to the ACA,
    Of course, these day’s there are worse things out there:
    Falling back on the States for compliance and regulation, will have some drawbacks. Some States have robust protections and enforcement, some very weak, often complicit. Some States are well funded, allowing research and mitigation, other’s utterly rely on the EPA for clean up and mitigation.
    Some forms of pollution of course, don’t respect State lines.
    Pollution of course, is also one of the key ways in which the profits are privatised, but the true costs are socialized.

  26. Bobo says:

    I’m sure everyone can think of at least a few Regulations, Federal Agency or Federal Give-Away that can be slimmed down or dissolved. So let the Pendulum swing the other way for awhile as that is the American way, this is nothing but curtailing past abuses.
    A major vendor of Organic Food of the ultra left bent was just caught with its pants down selling Organic California Medley of Vegetables with all the proper stamps but looking at the fine print says: Made in China. Just another example of regulations being abused by those who yell the most. Save your money buy good old American products grown with pesticides and all as its good for you. Builds stamina and strengthens your immune system.
    Just could not let that one pass so my apologies if one does not agree.
    Trump is here for another three years, ten months and a few days-What could happen or better yet How much can he get done.

  27. steve says:

    The absolute number of federal employees hasn’t changed all of that much in the last 50 years. As a percentage of the population it has decreased. If your goal is saving money, this is not where the real money lives. Rather than just cutting some arbitrary percentage of the budget, nearly always the hallmark of incompetent management, decide what you want the organization to do, then cut or add employees to achieve that objective. If your real goal here is to have less federal government involvement in regulation or whatever, then actually do that. Cut or change the regulations. Just cutting the number of employees does not guarantee that will happen. You may just have more sloppy and irregular enforcement of regs. (Which really means that the politically connected will not have regs enforced, while those who are not will still face enforcement.)
    Doing the above would require an understanding of what each agency does, and a willingness to take on the special interest groups that support those activities. Anyone who thinks this is a purely leftist thing is wrong. There is no shortage of examples of special interests from the Red states being catered to by government. Contractors are not being stupid when they have production spread out over many states.

  28. Paul Mooney says:

    I’m pretty leftish and I could definitely support big cuts in the federal work force.
    I suspect the areas I would cut might be different than the areas some of my conservative friends would cut 🙂
    That’s the rub…
    For what it’s worth I found this chart for federal employment.
    Some key data points:
    1962 = 5.354 million federal employees
    1968 = 6.639 (the peak in the table)
    1976 = 5.002
    1980 = 4.965
    1988 = 5.289
    1992 = 4.152
    2000 = 4.129
    2008 = 4.206
    2014 = 4.185

  29. Grimgrin says:

    “The Old New Regime” article seems somewhat tendentious. To comply with what it asserts is the illegitimacy of congress empowering delegates to make regulations, three things could happen, to varying degrees. Laws would either have to be complete, specifying in the text of the law itself everything down to the nature of the paperwork. To the extent that they are incomplete, laws would have to rely on the judicial review of administrate actions, to create a body of regulations through successive court decisions. If incomplete and and needing to be applied before regulations could evolve in the courts, they would have to be inconsistent, with interpretation at the discretion of the employees charged with enforcing them. The last option makes something of a mockery of the rule of law; the middle makes administration of government even slower and less efficient than it is already; the first one would require radically expanding the length and complexity of laws.
    I also think the characterization of administrative law as “Supralegal” is shaky. Regulations are made, and can only be made, within a legal framework. An agency is charged with administering a law, and the courts give deference to the interpretations used by those who are charged with administering. You can argue that too much deference is given, but saying that this has the effect of elevating the regulation above the enacted law is reaching. I would very much like to see a court case where an agency’s interpretation of laws outside of their home statute, or regulations unsupported by any legal framework at all were accorded deference.
    Finally, if you are going to argue that something is unconstitutional, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to refer to the constitution when saying why. The essay cites John Locke. A fine philosopher, but he died in 1704, and can therefore have had little to say about a Constitution adopted in 1789. I also think that the necessary and proper clause is a hard nut to crack as far as deeming administrative law unconstitutional goes.
    All that said; I generally believe federalism is the only way a large country can be governed effectively. Powers have to be delegated down to the lowest workable level, for the simple reason that geographic and cultural separation means an overly centralized government will always loose touch with one or more regions, and this causes issues far worse than whatever benefit in consistency centralization gives you. Or put another way, if the result of deconstruction of central authority is increased decentralization of authority, it’s probably a good thing on balance.

  30. VietnamVet says:

    The federal government has already been turned. It serves corporate interests only. This is documented by the ending of criminal prosecutions for financial crimes. Limited anti-trust enforcement has led to health care and pharmaceutical monopolies that exploit the ill and increase the death rate in mid-America. Anti-democratic Trade Deals were the mechanism for corporations to supersede national environmental and labor laws. Donald Trump’s ditching of The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a direct attack on global corporate capitalism.
    The current conflict is between nationalist and globalist oligarchs over who controls the remnants of western governments. The dog fight will tear the West apart including the USA. The deconstruction of Iraq, Syria, Greece and Ukraine are harbingers of what is to come here.

  31. charly says:

    What is the difference between doing regulation on a federal level or a state level except that the state level is much less efficient.

  32. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    I’m fairly left.
    I do not worship federalism, although I would point out that having a childhood shaped in large part by the Bonneville Power Administration’s miraculous construction of dams (electricity!), canals (food!) and university research programs, tends to predispose one to see some virtues in larger structures that cross state boundaries. None of those would have happened without a coherent, functioning federal system interacting with states.
    It is entirely possible that mine is a Western sensibility, but I hardly suppose that I am the only citizen with this perspective.
    Nevertheless, “What Bannon seems to propose is a roll-back of federal function to levels that he thinks reflect the amount of power ceded by the original states when they ratified the constitution.” I suspect that Bannon is an ideologue and/or a political romantic. (I would say the same of Samantha Powers, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, or Huma Abedin; all of them ideologues and foreign policy romantics, blind to facts.)
    One of the many gems of the US Federal Government is NARA (National Archives and Records Administration), which houses the US Census Records. IMVHO, it is one of the real treasures of the American people, and is a key part of the intellectual infrastructure that has undergirded the nation’s development. Whether Bannon is familiar with NARA is beyond my expertise, but it is one of the unsung, quiet resources available to any American.
    The Wikipedia link to US Census records for 1790 show that overall, the original states had relatively equal populations.
    The categories are also interesting (although this link does not include the fact that many early US Census takers counted the number of forges, publishers, and average acreage per homestead when they collected census data for each state). These old census records are a trove for anyone even remotely interested in an historical perspective:
    In stark and dramatic contrast, the 2010 US Census shows vast disparities among state populations, economies, and resources.
    California has almost 34,000,000 counted souls. It also has Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Disneyland, and legalized marijuana.
    Wyoming has fewer than half a million souls, as well as the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.
    IOW, there are about 68 Californians for every Wyoming resident. (I am tempted to add a snarky observation that within the next 8 months, at least 2 of those 68 Californians will be moving to Boise, but that’s purely anecdotal, and I digress…)
    It’s my private view that vast disparities in state populations are driving much of our current political lunacy. Honoring the notion that somehow 2 senators can represent <500,000 just as easily as they can represent 34,000,000, is a romantic fiction. We now have disparities that do not scale, and it should surprise no one that we are in a period of political upheaval.
    If Bannon thinks that abdicating federal powers and returning them to states as disparate as California and Wyoming (to say nothing of Rhode Island and Delaware) is 'a solution', one wonders how he thinks the telecoms, the Internet, the weather satellites, and a host of other large-scale resources are to be managed -- by individual states?! Is his chatter about moving power down to the states actually a bait and switch to offload problems onto states, and leave them nearly defenseless in the face of a behemoth like AT&T?
    As a 'leftie', I would say that the American experience involves civic responsibility (school boards, water boards, utility commissions, port commissions) -- and that the experiences gleaned in civic activities enable individuals to learn by necessity as they grapple with complicated problems. At its best, democracy generates IQ points, a practical sensibility, and pragmatic solutions. At its identity-politics worst, democracy degrades into ideologies, blame, graft, and pass-the-buckism.
    At the federal scale, the complexity in some areas may be unmanageable, and in those areas, it is important to break down the complexity. However, that does not mean that roll-backs are the optimal solution for every problem.
    The more people are able to solve their own problems, the better off everyone will be. I say that as a 'leftie': the act of having to solve problems forces people to understand more about their world in a way that serfdom and servitude do not require.
    Some problems benefit from federalism; others don't. Here's hoping that Bannon is capable of enough nuance to think carefully about the distinction. 'Tis a muddle, that's certain.

  33. jld says:

    I am afraid that last paragraph is very close to the mark, notwithstanding it’s “economic determinism”…

  34. turcopolier says:

    1. Bannon does not advocate abolishing the federal union or government. He wants to reduce its scope and reach. 2. As I have said here several times there is no practical mechanism within the present constitution of the US for applying your “rational” desire to allot power according to population size to the states. The compromises inherent in the original ratification process ensured that. pl

  35. Origin
    So, 1984 arrived about 40 years later than Orwell predicted. Keep in mind that The Guardian is fake news. 😉

  36. LeaNder says:

    “Congressional Budget Office Congress”
    I looked into US legislation following some laws. I also looked up the genesis of Congressional Budget office on Wikipedia, as nitwit.
    Question: While looking a bit into US legislation, I once ended up in in what looked like law somewhat buried in budget legislation, that’s how this nitwit recalls it. Admittedly I gave up with the accompanying awareness of our own legal complexities and necessary interrelations.
    Does the above sound silly? Completely wrong impression? In any case a response would help me erase somewhat misguided traces.
    Budget legislation versus the ‘office’?

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Says who, says a Federal Lawyer?
    Well, the Michigan Legislature can put the idea of a withdrawal from that compact on a referendum. The voters will vote to exit the compact because they do not like their water taken away from them.
    The State of Michigan, listening to the Vox Populi, ratifies that decision and the Michigan Courts instruct that that compact is null and void.
    What is the Federal Government of the United States going to do?
    Send in the Federal Troops and remove the State Government?
    Or fine Michigan? Or wage economic war against her?
    In which case millions of other Americans will flock to Michigan to defend her against US Federal Government.
    Or go to the US Supreme Court to argue the case and thus resurrect the issue of Rights of the States?
    Which could lead to the resurrection of CSA?
    I must admit that for people who live in a glass house you guys are incredibly cavalier in your attitudes and policies.
    And yes, I know the usual response already:
    “It is our country and we can wreck it if we so desire.”

  38. JohnA says:

    Somebody should ‘deconstruct’ the effort the protectionist US Forest Service made to ‘certify’ the 747 waterbomber for service in Chile’s recent record-breaking and deadly wildfires. Somebody should also have been on hand to compare and contrast the work done on those wildfires by the vastly superior IL-76 waterbomber which Putin laid on ….for free. Compare, if you will, the drop height able to be set by each of these big aircraft.
    Recently, both Canada’s and Sweden’s prime ministers turned Putin down on the same sort of (free) offer. Canada went on to suffer through the costliest disaster in its history.

  39. TV says:

    Your generous welfare seems to be self-inflicted.
    Why should the Fed step in?
    Obviously your citizens approve of this, having had majority Democrat rule for a long time.

  40. Origin says:

    Very accurate insight.

  41. Origin says:

    Please give us some links so we can make the comparison.

  42. Lefty says:

    On the other side of the coin, does DoD need a 10% budget increase? There is a wonderful supply of military experience and expertise here. What do y’all think?

  43. Degringolade says:

    I would suggest that the data in the OPM doesn’t include contractors, of which there are a buttload

  44. Fred says:

    Shocking news for folks watching re-runs of the clearly not news network. The elected leaders of Flint, Democrats for 6 or so decades in a row, ran the city into bankruptcy. The state government took over and and the professional determined not to take on $10 million or so of the bankrupt city of Detroit’s water treatment system and declined to join the new “regional” water system. They weren’t the only ones either. Of course the city water treatment plant managers then failed to properly do their job by not correctly treating the water so the protective corrosive layer (rust) existing the decades old underground piping leached out into the water that was delivered to residents homes and businesses. Two or more of them are under indictment. However none of the “just followed orders” plant operators are indicted, yet. Because when it comes to black genocide (as some non-elite democrats here call it) by providing undrinkable water to your door, just following orders is a proper defense. Go figure. Folks out your way might also be curious as to why millions can leave the mid-East to find refuge around the globe but the residents of Flint haven’t figured out that all they have to do avoid being genocided by bad tap water is move to Detroit; or Ferguson or Baltimore or anywhere else.
    “The council’s vote in March 2013 was to switch water supply from Detroit to a new pipeline through the Karegnondi Water Authority – but the pipeline wasn’t scheduled to be completed for at least three years.”

  45. turcopolier says:

    I don’t buy your stargazing about 3d printers, etc. and I doubt that you have any real knowledge of the necessities of warfare at all. But, I have advocated a basic change in US foreign policy that would require smaller forces. At present our foreign policy is being held hostage by people like McCain and Graham who are filled with boundless reservoirs of hostility directed at anyone the Saudis and Israelis point them at, and by mindless characters like Joe Scarborough who can’t comprehend that the USSR is long dead and Russia is not a communist enemy. pl

  46. Fred says:

    Somehow I don’t see the Democratic Senators of Vermont or New Hampshire resigning so that California can have a couple more. Maybe somebody can convince Bernie or Elizabeth Warren to do so as a matter of (your) principle.

  47. JohnA says:

    You can’t. That’s the problem. Media coverage was meager. Who sends adequate reporters to Chile?
    Look hard for drop height. That’s the key. A lot of western media paid lip service to the Russian machine featuring pure volume from the American entry over the Russians slightly smaller volume.
    But what good is liquid volume when it atomizes to mist from the safe drop height of the American machine? There are other Russian machine advantages like the fact the airplane was wing-designed to drop in the first place and has 18 wheels, adjustable in flight tire pressures, and adjustable shocks for rough field landings. For a cargo plane, it is not a stretch to label it STOL.

  48. TV says:

    Victor David Hanson couldn’t have said it better:
    “I don’t have easy answers to any of these paradoxes but will only suggest that in the last 40 years, despite three different Republican administrations, frequent GOP control of the House and Senate, and ostensible Republican majorities on the Supreme Court, the universities have eroded, the borders have evaporated, the government has grown, the debt has soared, the red–blue divide has intensified, identity politics have become surreal, the nation’s infrastructure has crumbled, the undeniable benefits from globalism have increasingly blessed mostly an entrenched elite, the culture has grown more crass and intolerant, the redistributive deep state has spread, and the middle classes have seen their purchasing power and quality of life either stagnate or decline.”

  49. Lefty says:

    To quantify it, the proposed DoD increase is approximately the size of the UK military budget and around 80% of what the Russians spend annually.
    Will we really increase our military capability by close to as much as the entire UK’s or 4/5th of the Russians? If so, is that something we need? If not, what do we get for the money?
    Thank you Col for your comments on force composition and foreign policy. That kind of insight is why I hang around here.

  50. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    I happen to agree with you.
    Consequently, I foresee ongoing turmoil.
    Interesting times.

  51. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    1. Thanks for clarifying about Bannon; apparently, I was mistook and I appreciate correction.
    2. I agree with you that there is no practical mechanism within the constitution for reallocating state boundaries, nor senate seats, according to population. I don’t see how the Founders could have foreseen the vast size of the disparities that we now face. They thought that they’d addressed population disparities with the House of Representatives, but it’s starting to look like there are limits to the size of disparities before things begin to fall apart.
    IOW, the problems trace to structural weaknesses (assuming that vastly disparate populations are viewed as a structural weakness within a political system).
    Unfortunately, I don’t see any simple, nor constitutional, solution.
    It’s a bit like watching a volcano build up. (I am in an earthquake zone between volcanos, so I do not type this as any trivial metaphor.)

  52. dbk says:

    I think that the issue here is that certain forms of environmental degradation “seep” into neighboring states – the most glaring example of this being water pollution caused by industrial toxins dumped into waterways or onto the ground and later entering aquifers. In the case of two states with very different environmental standards, the costs to the state with the higher standards would theoretically become insupportable. It is not clear to me how a devolved federalism could address this issue.

  53. “Steve” – You write “Rather than just cutting some arbitrary percentage of the budget, nearly always the hallmark of incompetent management, decide what you want the organization to do, then cut or add employees to achieve that objective.”
    I agree that that can be the only really effective approach to reform but is it possible? You’d need an external layer of management to carry it out and where would it comes from? Politicians are not designed for such work and there aren’t enough of them anyway. They would automatically pass the buck to management consultants, who themselves sometimes seem to be more like fee generating machines than anything useful. Not forgetting that management consultants, at least here, have already had a run at the problem and haven’t solved it.
    Therefore there can be no really effective solution to reforming the vast and complex administrative systems we’re landed ourselves with, both in the States and in Europe. Plus, these systems do often perform necessary functions, so attempting major and speedy reform while hoping they’ll carry on doing their job is akin to doing an in-flight engine change.
    Given there’s no good solution a half-way good solution has to be adopted, and it can only be incremental: let the reform come from within the existing management structure over a period, and impose necessarily crude constraints that will at least encourage the existing management to get on with it.
    I’ve seen nothing better proposed. It’s not ideal, as you point out – no one could assert that such constraints as, for instance, dropping two regulations for every new one, or imposing arbitrary budget cuts, could possibly be the best solution – but if it might be the only solution possible.
    Trump and his team will be aware that the two greatest proponents of rolling back the state – Reagan and our Margaret Thatcher – ended up with more state than they started out with. If Trump is to be more successful than those two it might have to be accepted that a blunt scalpel is better than none.

  54. turcopolier says:

    Pacifica Advocate
    I welcome people who use Wikipedia as a reference. If you are such a pedant that you are unhappy with that, go be with other pedants. pl

  55. Fred says:

    Mlive is not Wikipedia. Snyder may be inept but he did not bankrupt Flint, Detroit nor make the initial decision to change water sources for the city. Nice try though. Don’t like the reference to the bio of the indicted emergency manager, too bad. I notice you don’t dispute any of the facts presented.

  56. steve says:

    I would respectfully disagree. As you point out, I think that both Reagan and Thatcher wanted to decrease the scope of government. They largely failed. I don’t know so much about Thatcher’s efforts, but Reagan’s were also heavily reliant upon an indirect approach. He believed in starve the beast. All we got from cutting taxes was more debt. So, if you want to actually cut spending, you need to cut spending.
    You are correct that doing the right thing won’t be easy, but then good management seldom is easy. We really need politicians who are willing to do the hard work.

  57. VietnamVet says:

    U.S. Rep. John Lewis states the underlying neoliberal economics of the West quite clearly:
    “There’s not anything free in America. We all have to pay for something. Education is not free. Health care is not free. Food is not free. Water is not free. I think it’s very misleading to say to the American people, we’re going to give you something free.”
    This is the dividing line between the old and new America. I grew up when healthcare, education, air, food and water were affordable. The 60’s & 70’s movements were to make these rights inclusive and safe. It is beyond weird to me that the world has totally flip flopped. In the 21st century everything comes at a cost. If you cannot not afford it, too bad.

  58. Imagine says:

    Fed SS is guaranteed by the Treasury and cannot go broke as long as Congress does not choke itself. State pensions are completely different, as states cannot print money, so are time bombs waiting to take out states. City pensions are worse. The pension time bombs could be solved if states would invest in solar farms at 10% ROI then issue bonds to cover their pension obligations.

  59. “We really need politicians who are willing to do the hard work.”
    Honestly, you won’t get ’em. I’m sure there are politicians around who are capable – they’re not all losers by a long chalk – but it takes half a lifetime to find your way around these immensely complicated administrative systems. Look at the posts here from Eric Newhill explaining how a system he knows operates. That looks like something that ought to be streamlined but even if you could work out how to do it, try doing it while the system’s still running. And that’s only a corner of a much larger system.
    In fact from the Blair government on in this country they’ve been trying micro-management by politicians, setting rigid targets on just about every aspect they can think of, and all that’s happened is an increase in the work load resulting from the time taken to document and monitor these targets, an increasingly frustrated work force who can see the jobs that need doing but can’t get at them because of the excess of paperwork, and an increasingly sclerotic system that’s even less fit for the task. At the same time the legal costs resulting from getting anything wrong have risen, and guarding against that gums up the works even more.
    “Privatisation”, that great slogan of recent times, hasn’t helped much either. It’s something of a fake because there are still people doing the work – it just means that cuts in the workforce can be claimed. From what I’ve seen, though I accept it’s anecdotal evidence evidence only, it makes it easier to skimp on the work and get away with it. All it does in truth is increase the complexity, reduce further the chances of democratic oversight, and sub-contract the inefficiency. It’s made a lot of people rich but that wasn’t supposed to be the aim.
    It’s not that useful to compare these organisations with commercial organisations either. Of course they’re subject, or ought to be, to cost pressures but that doesn’t make them what they’re not. There is still, as far as one can see, a strong ethos of public service there particularly in the lower ranks; they don’t see themselves as working in a profit centre culture and it’s a mistake to treat them as if they should be.
    Every time you meet someone in the civil service or in local government who says “Yes, I know it’s not right to do it like this but it’s the only way the system can work” you know that you’re looking at something seriously dysfunctional. These great behemoths are unmanageable. They are big horrible blobs for those of us outside them, and an increasingly unpleasant and unrewarding working environment for those inside. But they’re what we’ve landed ourselves with. Short of axing them and doing without their services while something better is put together – and none of us would be prepared to accept that – all that’s really possible is to cut off the food supply and hope they emerge leaner and fitter. I’d guess Trump’s chances are slim there but it must be worth trying.

  60. Tyler says:

    Blacks have zero agency, part MCMXVII
    Blaming whitey from his goonfort in Taiwan. SAD.

  61. Tyler says:

    We’re going to the moon!

  62. Fred says:

    “Completely irrelevant to what happened.” No bankruptcy no financial need to change water sources nor create a regional water authority to assume the Detroit water system’s debts. But nice try. On another bright note for Detroit the city water authority issued a boil water notice but failed to tell schools and businesses downtown that it included them. I’m sure expatriate college professors in Taiwan know this is the governor’s fault.

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