Even without the news that the IRS deliberately targeted Americans based on an ideological criterion, American’s freedom and control over their personal lives have been under attack for decades.
The real threat to our nation is the rise of the Bureaucratic State and the blanket of soft tyranny it casts to gently smother Americans to death. A liberal law professor John Turley warns against the “fourth branch” of government.
The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.
This rulemaking comes with little accountability. It’s often impossible to know, absent a major scandal, whom to blame for rules that are abusive or nonsensical.
The various Bureaucrat agencies are in many cases nameless and faceless; yet, all-powerful and far-reaching. More serious is the autonomous fashion in which these bureaucratic agencies operate. The challenge, of course, and a threat to our liberty, is the inability to control their actions or know exactly their priorities or aims.
The Bureaucratic State has grown so large over the years that the agencies that comprise it are so vast and so ingrained into government and the economy, they are shielded from mistakes and incompetence. Their efficiency and contributions are hard to measure, yet their control over our lives is all too apparent. Therefore,they are held unaccountable while holding considerable power over the lives of every American.
As the number of federal regulations increased, however, Congress decided to relieve the judiciary of most regulatory cases and create administrative courts tied to individual agencies. The result is that a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court. In a given year, federal judges conduct roughly 95,000 adjudicatory proceedings, including trials, while federal agencies complete more than 939,000.
These agency proceedings are often mockeries of due process, with one-sided presumptions and procedural rules favoring the agency.
According to their nature, Bureaucracies grow. As they take on more functions the less direct involvement they have with their overall priorities. The bureaucracy will eventually become more distant from reality. Inevitably, they will develop their own aims and goals even if those aims and goals are unconstitutional and emotionally detached toward any “outsiders.”
In the new regulatory age, presidents and Congress can still change the government’s priorities, but the agencies effectively run the show based on their interpretations and discretion. The rise of this fourth branch represents perhaps the single greatest change in our system of government since the founding. We cannot long protect liberty if our leaders continue to act like mere bystanders to the work of government.
Thus when a genuine scandal emerges we hear stale bureaucratic langue such as “I take full responsibility” or “this is totally unacceptable.” These are used in place of resignations even though the individual who makes them believes the exact opposite. This alternative reality is precisely the kind in which bureaucracies exist. In their reality, a person or agency can be successful without ever having been efficient or productive.
These negative effects will culminate — to the extent in which already has occurred — in tyranny and slow and steady decline of our nation and our freedom.