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November 13, 2008
Suddenly a rash of czars is in prospect for the Obama Administration.
The title "czar" in the executive branch has some history. The "drug czar" title appeared during the Reagan administration. The term has always seemed a little strange to me, but that's probably because the word has a negative connotation in my opinion; an all-powerful, micro-managing type of connotation. What's more, after spending a little time participating in the "war on drugs", it seemed that the czar's effort was futile and cost a lot of money.
Enter the Obama administration. As of 12 November, there are many desks with "czar" titles on them to come. We already have an "intelligence czar", and it appears that seat is safe. Does the executive branch need a "tech-czar"? Apparently. Who knows what technology might do without direct executive oversight. With Detroit ready to take some many billions of dollars from the federal government, there's talk about a "car-czar". Some sense in that, because the dollars given will supposedly (under the touted plan) buy stakes in the Big Three for the US Government. What was that talk about statist expansion, again?
And surely we need an "energy czar" to oversee (micro-manage) the miraculous transition from our current fossil fuel addiction to whatever comes next. But that czar had better be fond friends with the "climate czar" - and in all honesty, if Mr. Gore takes that spot, there won't be any spotlight for the "energy czar", and perhaps little energy, as well. For that matter, why have two positions? If one believes Global Warming / Climate Change orthodox teachings, one feeds the other. On the other hand, two "czars" have two staff, and that's job creation.
It may be that all these czars and many, many more will have seats around the Obama table. Surely there will be an "economy czar". An "education czar" could rule over No Child Left Behind with an iron fist. Perhaps a "czar" installed at the Pentagon? That's probably a bit of a stretch. But somehow I fear this cast of czars and their footmen. With Congress seemingly willing to purchase stakes in just any company that asks, these "czars" may eventually gain more power than would be healthy -- for their spheres of interest and the country.
Bob Myer blogs at mindofflapjack.blogspot.com/