The irony of our present democracy is that the rules that govern it are written by people who never asked for your vote.
They don’t teach that in college, and you won’t find any Article in the U.S. Constitution calling for the participation of “Federal Agencies.” To learn where power truly resides, though, you can either open a small business and commence drowning in paperwork, or you can save yourself an early stroke and just listen to NPR. NPR recently ran a report titled “Federal Agencies to Iron out Health Care Details.” NPR, hardly a bulwark of conservatism, noted that the Democrats’ legislation does not actually provide any details for how it will work.
Students of modern government should absorb this lesson: there are two governments in Washington. One comprised of the individuals you elect, and the other to whom they surrender most authority.
Your elected officials can be found nightly on television, usually mouthing platitudes on the importance of democracy, equality and freedom, as if they were actors auditioning for an HBO miniseries on the American Revolution.
The other government, the unelected tenants housed within Federal Agencies, will never ask for a vote. They don’t have to. They don’t care whether you send Democrats or Republicans to Washington, both parties have been befuddled by the Federal government —now 2 million strong. They will still be in power long after the current President and Congress are retired and resting upon the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard. Federal employees have nothing to fear from the election lines of November. No election day in recent history (since Reagan) has proven adept at questioning their assumed mandate.
The health care legislation provides the boldest example of our shift away from traditional democracy. Democrats cultivated the most partisan bill in a generation which, fittingly, enabled the widest assumption of civil authority in U.S. history.
In the end, [intlink id=”719993″ type=”post”]Democrats may not have achieved a single-payer option[/intlink], but was that really ever the point? Congress did one better. Through regulation, the insurance industry has become a quasi-government entity. If the past is indeed prologue, then we can look forward to an outcome similar to other quasi-government agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which proved that there’s nothing quite like Congress having you on speed dial to obliterate your business model.
While Congress delegated the details to Federal Agencies, the concrete deliverable was the permanent expansion of government. The legislation provides $10 billion to hire over 16,000 new IRS agents to ensure “compliance.” Congress has hired a veritable white collar army to enforce whatever rules the agencies ultimately establish. Americans are ostensibly being required to pay $10 billion to have them further policed. We elect these people—in gratitude they hire enough new IRS agents to fill Red Rocks Amphitheatre twice over.
Is this the hope that so many desired?
The new agents will live as a permanent fixture upon the government long after the people who hired them are gone. They aren’t going anywhere. Their jobs are safer than the elected officials who empowered them.
Each election year Americans wonder why “nothing ever changes.” Voters swear they drove to the polls. They have vivid recollections of lining up in the musty high school gymnasiums that are converted to polling stations each fall. Yet no matter how they vote, each year the Federal government continues to grow, leaving the American people with a thinning margin for entrepreneurial opportunity.
Colleges don’t teach students how modern government functions because the reality is not mentioned in any of our Founding documents. They still just teach the Constitution. From those lessons, I recall that the Third Amendment (protection from Quartering Troops) was always a high source of humor. It always seemed outdated, ranking right up there with laws prohibiting the “impersonation of a clergyman” or California’s legal gem from 1838 requiring a man to obtain a license before serenading a woman. In similar terms, we thought it inconceivable that an American would ever be required to house and feed soldiers. Now, I’m not saying it is the same thing, nor has any humorless bureaucrat knocked upon my door and asked to have a sleepover. But when the Democrats have us funding the livelihoods of 16,000 new IRS agents to lord over us…well…the Third Amendment just doesn’t seem as funny as it used to be.
Eben Carle served in the White House as an Associate Director on the Homeland Security Council from 2008-2009. He received a master’s degree in American studies from Columbia University and is currently writing his first novel.