Government by Tentacle
It’s gotten even worse than President Reagan indicated when he quipped that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” For President Reagan, that meant that the government was sure to screw things up and make matters worse. But now it is increasingly apparent that government agencies at another level actually do help -- help themselves. When government agencies arrive to help right an injustice or rectify a bad situation they use that as a basis to permanently expand their agency footprint. Just as business are constantly trying to expand or grow, government agencies are using every crisis to expand and grow. The caveat is, that in the case of government agencies, they are not checked and tested and honed by competition.
“The Federal Octopus” is how Victor Davis Hanson puts it. Government agencies have become “a law unto themselves” and exist for their own self-aggrandizement.
Government always grows, sometimes even more rapidly under Republican than under Democratic presidents. But under President Obama we are seeing something a little different -- the creation of a partisan, semi-autonomous government that seems to exist for the benefit of its employees and the larger ideological agenda of the present administration.
This has created a reality disconnect in which Federal employees are rewarded for lying, cheating, and covering up to further the narrative that government agencies because of their humanitarian sense of mission do a better job than private agencies intent on making a buck. Hanson sites the Veterans Affairs scandal as a typical case.
Delays in providing care were covered up by false record keeping. This criminal fraud contributed to the death of several veterans. The falsification of records also meant both that the scandal would not quickly come to light and that veterans would continue not to receive needed care. No matter: 65 percent of VA executives nevertheless received merit bonuses, among them those at the dysfunctional Phoenix VA Health Care System, where the largest number of veterans died. Overall, 80 percent of VA executives received very high performance rankings for overseeing a scandal-plagued agency. An outsider might conclude that the Veterans Affairs bureaucracy existed not so much for its client veterans as for the fossilized bureaucracy that so poorly runs the hospitals.
Mission creep, under the Obama administration, has become a pandemic. One incredible example is that of NASA taking upon itself the mission of Muslim outreach. Exploring outer space? How passé. NASA administrator, Charles Bolton in 2010 proudly announced that NASA’s mission was no longer just to explore outer space but to explore how to “help them [Muslims] feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering -- science, math and engineering.”
Under the Obama administration the real mission of government agencies, behind the self-righteous pose of benevolence and concern for the under-privileged, is to grow their mission and footprint.
Whatever the proper role of government is or should be beside defense -- ensure the openness and competitiveness of the capitalist system or something along those lines -- it has become an invasive, parasitic monster above the law and intent only on growing and rewarding its own. As Judge Napolitano writes:
But no modern president has picked and chosen which laws to enforce and which to ignore and which to rewrite to the extremes of President Obama. His radical rejection of the rule of law, which presents a clear and present danger to the freedom of us all, has had fatal consequences.
The giant Pacific Octopus grows throughout its entire life. This makes Hanson‘s, “The Federal Octopus,” an aptly chosen trope -- at least in that regard. Unfortunately, Hanson’s octopus, unlike the Giant Pacific Octopus, does not have a short life span of 5 years.