Jonah Goldberg, discussing the rise of a managerial ‘class’ in this country that has apparently found a happy home with the Democratic party:
It’s true that the already super-rich Kochs would benefit from a freer country. It’s also true that the managerial class would benefit from the bureaucratization of America.
Very true. The major difference between the two, though? Other people besides the Kochs would benefit from a freer country. We’ve long since passed the point* where more bureaucratization would benefit anybody except bureaucrats.
*Libertarian theorizing aside, you need some bureaucracy and organization if you want a country this large to operate effectively. Having no desire to break up the United States of America into an easily-conquered patch of pocket-realms – to say nothing of not wanting to need a passport to visit Seattle, Chicago, or Philadelphia – I am thus constrained to avoid advocating for a hard-core libertarian system. But we can hack The Weed Agency back a bit. And by ‘bit’ I mean ‘a lot.’
It’s not that I have anything against ridiculous examples of bureaucracy in action; it’s just that some of these aren’t actually ridiculous. Case in point:
There’s a reason why they ask non-immigrants applying for visas if they’re involved in espionage, sabotage, terrorist activities, genocide, and/or are Nazis on the run. You see, people who do such things are quite often on the run from them, and/or covering their activities up. When either situation comes to light unexpectedly it’s very helpful for the government to be able to have a piece of paper that proved that the suddenly-unwelcome visitor has clearly lied about his/her activities. The alternative would be to do extensive background checks on everybody who wants to enter the country on a visit: that either takes time, or giving the NSA about twenty times its current budget. I wonder how many people over at Cracked.com want either of those things to happen… Continue reading Yeah, @Cracked photoplasty series are not always reliable reporting.
Background: the Federal Trade Commission
got a bug up ah, decided that some boilerplate, non-binding, non-enforceable language in the Music Teachers National Association (a small nonprofit out of Ohio) represented an attempt to jack up prices in the high-stakes, ruthlessly competitive world of piano lessons (average lesson, according to the WSJ: $30). Not having any friends in court – and no, I don’t think that I’ll strike that out, given that it’s brutally truthful – the MTNA simply surrendered to the tender mercies of the FTC. The result?
This October, MTNA signed a consent decree—its contents as ludicrous as the investigation. The association did not have to admit or deny guilt. It must, however, read a statement out loud at every future national MTNA event warning members against talking about prices or recruitment. It must send this statement to all 22,000 members and post it on its website. It must contact all of its 500-plus affiliates and get them to sign a compliance statement. Continue reading @BarackObama’s (and the Democrats’) war on the scourge of piano teacher nonprofit associations.
Maybe I am just being too idealistic, but I have a real problem with this Tim Carney theory about why IRS targeted conservative groups:
There’s a fairly innocent — and fairly probable — explanation for what the IRS did, and it boils down to the natural suspicion people have of those with opposing views.
The public servants figuring out which groups qualified for 501(c)4 “social welfare” non-profit status were mostly Democrats surrounded by mostly Democrats. Democrats received 75 percent of the campaign contributions I could trace to employees of the IRS Cincinnati office over the last three election cycles. In the 2012 election, every donation traceable to this office went to President Obama or liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown.
This is an environment where even those trying to be fair could develop a disproportionate distrust of the Tea Party.
Continue reading The IRS’s rank and file may not be understanding their problem. Yet.
The temptation to snark, here, could be overwhelming. The temptation to snark here, in fact, is almost overwhelming. Matt Yglesias, on the personal roadblocks placed on him starting a new business in (Democratic party-dominated) DC:
In the District of Columbia, I need to get a simple Basic Business License to rent out a single dwelling. After puzzling over the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs website for a bit, it became clear that step No. 1 was actually to file form FR-500 with the Office of Tax and Revenue, which you can do online. Then it was time to hustle down to the DCRA (which closes at 4:30 p.m.) to file the paperwork. Once there, I learned that filing the FR-500 online wasn’t good enough—I needed a hard copy. Fortunately, the Office and Tax and Revenue was right across the street, so I went there and refiled. Then it was back to the DCRA to stand in line to get a number, wait for the number to be called, do some more paperwork, wait in another line for the cashier, fork over $100 in fees, then get a slip from the cashier to finalize the paperwork.
But then it turned out I needed to go to a third office, the Rental Accommodations Division of the Department of Housing and Community Development. It closes at 3:30 in the afternoon and required a 15-minute walk through a sketchy neighborhood. So the next morning I went down to that Rental Accommodations office to file a paper claiming exemption from D.C.’s rent control law.
Ye gods and little fishes.
So, Wednesday – while campaigning in Illinois, although I understand that we’re supposed to pretend that Obama isn’t actually campaigning, for some bizarre reason – the President of the United States faced with a technical question (the effects of new EPA’s soil and dust regulations on Illinois farmers) by a technical expert (an Illinois farmer). Despite the fact that the technical question is in fact supposedly within Barack Obama’s level of expertise, the President decided instead to make slight fun of the probably-not-voting-for-him-anyway technical expert by chiding him about believing rumors and suggesting that the technical expert call the Department of Agriculture.
Well. There was a Politico reporter who actually decided to see what would happen if s/he did precisely that. So s/he did. As near as I can tell, the original inquiry about “information related to the effects of noise and dust pollution rules on Illinois farmers” turned into a two day affair involving at least ten phone calls, seven separate, discrete offices (almost all of which also included internal phone tag), and at least twelve individuals. And as for the final answer? This is what they sent (yes, sent, via safely distancing email):
“Secretary Vilsack continues to work closely with members of the Cabinet to help them engage with the agricultural community to ensure that we are separating fact from fiction on regulations because the administration is committed to providing greater certainty for farmers and ranchers. Because the question that was posed did not fall within USDA jurisdiction, it does not provide a fair representation of USDA’s robust efforts to get the right information to our producers throughout the country.”
Shorter USDA: “I dunno. Call the President.” Continue reading Obama to farmer: ‘Call the USDA.’
“…that someone could accidentally stick their head into?”
(h/T: Meryl Yourish) This was an actual quote, supposedly, in relation to the delayed certification of a vacuum chamber by a bureaucrat. Also requiring resolution was where the vacuum would end up going if the chamber was suddenly vented and whether there were any additional safeguards to keep people from accidentally letting the vacuum out besides the need to exert fifty tons of force in order to open the door. This was all necessary because vacuum was defined as an “asphyxiant…” yes, laugh at the silly bureaucrats. The scientists can’t, though: it took them three weeks to find somebody to overrule the certification process, and the bureaucrats were apparently touchy on the subject for some time afterward.
Please contemplate this story the next time that the topic of how to implement increased regulation comes up in conversation. Because those are the details that the devil likes to be in.
PS: I’m not really being dour about this. Just mildly tired.
Crossposted to RedState.