March 3, 2017 | By Diana Erbio
Finding the official number of United States Federal Agencies is MI. What is MI you might ask? Mission Impossible. I chose to answer with an arrangement of capital letters, because that is a favored form utilized by our federal bureaucracy.
Within each lettered agency there are hundreds and thousands of programs known by various letter configurations. We often see these capital letter arrangements in news articles that describe complicated issues. They add a gravitas to quotes given. Doesn’t it sound more impressive that a quote came from Jane Smith of the ALPG, rather than just Jane Smith? (Don’t try to understand what ALPG is. It may be something “important”, however I simply grabbed some letters from the alphabet, capitalized them and strung them together. See how that works?)
I am not kidding when I say it is an impossible mission to find the official number of United States Federal Agencies. There are lists, but they are ever-changing, and the lists conflict with each other. (Sort of like the agencies themselves.)
This governing via unelected bureaucratic agencies is dangerous. There is no accountability. Individual agencies are loaded with bureaucrats, who will gladly redistribute blame, yet greedily hold on to power.
A book Philip Dru: Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow, 1920-1935 ,written in 1912, by Edward Mandell House, also known as Colonel House, although he was never in the military, provides a window into the workings of an administrative state. The book was fiction, but the author was an influential force behind President Woodrow Wilson who was elected in 1912. The administrative state grew substantially during the Wilson presidency and would continue to grow utilizing what is often today referred to as the “alphabet soup” of agencies. Being that our government structure is being swamped with lettered agencies, perhaps a better metaphor would be a “lettered swamp” of agencies.
What danger does the administrative state pose to our republic? A recent example is the Affordable Care Act. Laws in the United States are supposed to be created by Congress. However, in an administrative state, Congress delegates by law its legislative power to a government agency or department. Remember when Speaker Nancy Pelosi, famously told fellow Democratic representatives that they would have to “Pass the Bill to see what was in the Bill.” She made that statement because the Bill had been written by HHS, the Department of Health and Human Services, not our elected representatives. That is the danger to our representative government. Bureaucrats are never held responsible for anything. The blame can always be foisted on the behemoth, which is the bureaucracy.
To many progressives, in both political parties, that is the beauty of it all. If they can grow federal agencies and the bureaucracy, elected officials will not be held accountable, and they can be re-elected over and over again.
Kim Strassel, political columnist and member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, included many of the bullying tactics government agencies have been using against citizens in her book The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech, Hachette Book Group, 2016. Large agencies and bureaucracies made up of unelected administrators are usurping power from “We the People.” Our constitution is structured in a way that sets up a government that answers to the people, not the other way around.
Last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon gave hope to those of us who prefer that power should be with “We the People” rather than with unelected administrators when he stated that President Trump wishes to “deconstruct the administrative state.” Mr. Bannon also warned that power would not be relinquished back to the people easily. Yes, we must understand the administrative lettered swamp, so we can drain it.
Diana Erbio is a freelance writer and author of “Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World”. Read her new blog series “Statues: The People They Salute,” and more at www.dianaerbio.wordpress.com/blog .