Taking aim at the administrative state

F.H. Buckley writes at the New York Post about efforts to battle growth of the administrate state.

There’s an administrative state in every First World country, and in each of them courts defer to the regulators. More importantly, courts are limited by their dockets and can’t micromanage the millions of administrative rules, not without becoming part of the deep state themselves.

Second, conservatives want Congress to review the agencies more closely. But then it’s Congress that’s created the problem by permitting the agencies to go their merry way, and it also has a limited expertise to micromanage the regulators.

More can be done, along the lines of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act that would require congressional approval of any rule that would impose compliance costs of more than $100 million a year. But since congressional staffers don’t have much technical expertise, you’d probably see them approve all the big-ticket regulations.

So do we throw in the towel? Not quite. There’s one more card to play, the one played by Andrew Jackson in 1829 with the Spoils System.

In an era before the goo-goo’s civil-service reform, Jackson fired 10 percent of the federal workforce and replaced it with people loyal to him. Was that so bad? Arthur M. Schlelsinger Jr. said it was a reform measure that helped restore the people’s faith in government, at a time when the bureaucrats had become a self-serving and unaccountable branch of government.

If that’s what job tenure for bureaucrats has given us today, maybe it’s time to take another look at it.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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