The first constituency
To the Editor:
The first constituency of any federal program created to assist Americans is not the people intended to benefit from the program. Rather, it is the employees hired to execute the program for the benefit of other Americans. They have a greater interest in the future of those programs than do those intended to benefit from them, for their very livelihood depends upon their continuation.
We Americans have been taxed or have borrowed over $22 trillions to prosecute the war on poverty. Our poverty statistics have not really budged over the decades since our anti-poverty programs were instituted. What did our wealth pay for?
We Americans have been taxed or have borrowed over $1.8 trillions to fund the Federal Department of Education since its inception. Our education outcomes have not only not improved, they have generally declined since the creation of the Education Department. What has our wealth accomplished?
It would take but little effort to continue in this vein to uncover and describe many other programs that have not served their legislative purpose, but by now you see where we’re going.
Any politician new to the operating traditions of our federal government will be fought tooth and claw if they dare to suggest the reform or elimination of these and other unproductive programs and agencies. Just think of all those politicians we have elected to “change Washington.” They will face the hostile reaction of an organized and deeply embedded bureaucracy that will engage the support of other politicians, the media and the intellectuals wedded to these programs in order to thwart any attempt to change them.
If the reforming politician is a member of congress senior legislators will bring her to heel through the arcane machinations of their respective parties. They will find themselves unable to accomplish much as they are isolated by those in power until they tow the party line. If the politician is a member of the executive branch he will be frustrated by the permanent bureaucrats who passively resist making the changes ordered, who actively work with their legislative allies to fight reform efforts and who will freely coordinate with private vested interests and the media to build legal and “moral” challenges to reform.
Until the citizens of the nation finally exert their power over a government that was constituted to serve and protect them the bureaucracy will continue to grow, spend and borrow their wealth to feed itself and its selfish allies.