January 26, 2006
The Real Political Corruption: Part III
fear that term limits for members of Congress or other elected
officials will just put more power into the hands of the permanent
government bureaucrats and the Congressional staffers.
the fact that the powers of bureaucrats are set by elected officials,
who can abolish whole bureaucracies if they wish, as the Civil
Aeronautics Board was abolished, ending its protection of airline
cartels. As for staffers, they are hired and fired by elected
any proposed reform, it should be compared with what currently
exists. As things stand today, Congressional staffers are often
young people with little or no experience in the real world outside
of politics, and often their skills are largely confined to political
skills, with their highest priority being to get their bosses
and the glamour of politics may attract many young people, even
at salaries less than those available in the private sector. Yet
it is an extreme example of being penny-wise and pound foolish
to let people like this influence the destiny of the nation.
can be considerable when members of Congress are too busy with
public appearances and other activities designed to promote their
political careers to personally read and master the often complex
legislation that they have to vote on.
like members of Congress, need to be paid salaries that can compete
with what seasoned and top-level professionals receive in the
private sector. Someone with 20 years of experience in the private
sector has far more to contribute to legislation than someone
who has barely been in the world 20 years.
who has spent 20 years in the real world seeing bright ideas come
and go -- and often end in disaster -- is not likely to be as
susceptible to the kinds of bright ideas hatched in academia or
in various movements of true believers.
years of real world experience are likely to also have real world
obligations, like supporting a family, paying off a mortgage,
sending children to college, and putting something aside for their
hire such people as cheaply as you can hire some hotshot fresh
out of college who sees being a Congressional staffer as a golden
opportunity to apply the heady notions he picked up on campus.
But you are not likely to get more than you pay for.
of government include not only the salaries of government officials
and other direct outlays, these costs include the devastating
impact of half-baked policies that can stifle economic activity
or even lead to national destruction from within or without.
still have Utopian ideals of a government run by ordinary folks.
But when making serious decisions in real life, we go to people
who know what they are doing -- whether what we want is a transmission
fixed or medical treatment.
is it more important to have people who know what they are doing
than in Washington. And nowhere is it more important that what
they are doing is carrying out the duties of the job, not spending
their time focussed on getting re-elected.
fear that government has gotten so complex that only the permanent
bureaucrats can cope with it, so that turnover among elected officials
would make the bureaucracy the real rulers of the country.
"expertise" of bureaucrats, like the expertise of Congressional
staffers, is largely an expertise in personal political survival.
Do you seriously
believe that FEMA has expertise in dealing with natural disasters,
despite all their own disasters? Or that the Department of Education
has expertise in education, when it has presided over decades
of dumbed-down education?
other bureaucracies have expertise in political survival amid
the cross-currents of special interests. Such "expertise"
has caused more problems than it has ever solved.
One of the
benefits of attracting a higher caliber of elected officials is
that they can curtail or eliminate such counterproductive and
2006 Creators Syndicate