Monday, February 02, 2009

Speaking of Rome...

I'm usually not a big fan of the Lew Rockwell site, but this essay piqued my interest:

Some symptoms of the decay of the Roman Empire included:

  • Lack of public health
  • A marked decline in the morals and ethics among all Roman social classes
  • Excessive government with its accompanying political corruption
  • Excessive military spending with corresponding government projects and social programs
  • Inflation, price controls, and the state’s attempt to completely regulate the Roman economy destroyed manufacturing along with the empire’s agricultural base.
  • Inferior technology
  • Civil war accompanied by external invasions
  • Use of coercive force by the state to attain its ends


And then there's this line of thought, which came to me this morning:

President Obama is employing quite a few “czars” and other internal advisors outside the usual cabinet members and bureaucratic appointments. This organizational structure isn’t particularly efficient, as it can lead to overlapping loyalties and chains of command. Why not just put people you trust in charge of the various agencies directly? Richard Nixon ran his White House this way, and he faced all the problems previously mentioned.

The only reason I can guess as to why Obama is doing this is that he does not fully trust the information he’s receiving from the bureaucracy and wants inputs/data from people he does trust. I find this curious, given that most of the long-term, unionized civil servants tend to be supporters of the Democratic Party.

There is a more cynical, less charitable view one could take of this approach: mainly, that Obama wants
commissars or “political officers” in each of his departments to make sure they’re all following the “party line” loyally. Again, agencies within agencies, or states-within-a-state are problematic because the people who are part of the “inner circle” have more immediate access to the executive than the official bureaucratic apparatus. I must do some more reading. I still don’t understand why he doesn’t just appoint the people he wants in charge of the agencies. In any case, this structure bears watching.

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