August 21, 2022

Frederick Taylor’s “scientific management” was all the rage when fascism and totalitarianism was on the rise in the 1920s–30s. It sounded good — people with pertinent knowledge and skills would occupy positions in logically designed organizations in which those qualities would be optimally employed.

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In practice, the most common quality of scientifically managed firms was intense dissatisfaction among their workers.  That’s mostly because, in reality, people’s family, political connections, and willingness to “play ball” with the powerful and wealthy overshadowed everything else when it came to filling positions.  That’s why the purest expressions of scientific management — communist countries — failed and continue to fail so spectacularly on all metrics of popular well-being and welfare.

America’s founders recognized that human nature predisposed people to abuse power to serve their own interests, and designed checks and balances into our government to make such abuse difficult.  In the 233 years since we ratified the Constitution, those interested in subverting it have made substantial progress.

In communist societies, people in power act to preserve their best interest and the interests those closest to them, which screws everybody else and gives rise to a bifurcated society of “haves” and “have-nots.”  This happens every time socialism/communism is implemented — without exception.  It ultimately led to the deaths of over 100 million people in the 20th century alone.  We’re seeing the same trends in our country simply because power-holders here have surreptitiously implemented some of the defining characteristics of those collective societies.

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The purest form of this in the West today is the U.S. federal government.  The higher the position, the more its occupant got there as a result of enabling his superiors, benefactors, and family to siphon off as much as they could from the public till.  This has been the case since World War 2, which was the event that precipitated the metastatic expansion of our federal bureaucracy.  After all, who could resist or object to something that was part of the “war effort,” even if that something was completely outside the range of authority of the bureaucrat who thought it up?  That’s how it was done then and how it’s still done today — just like the “temporary expedient” of employer tax withholding, which brings home the bacon and, therefore, has been with us ever since.  Someone publicly unaccountable decides unilaterally what ought to be done and bakes it into a regulation, which puts the force of “law” behind it.  Except that no legislature was involved, and therefore, the public interest was not a prominent concern.

Our Constitution places the sole authority to enact such requirements with the Congress.  Legislation begins in the House of Representatives, by design, because that body most closely reflects the populace.  Decades ago, cowardly and corrupt, but elected, legislators decided that they’d have a much easier time getting re-elected if they delegated tough decisions to regulatory bodies.  That way they could deflect responsibility from themselves for unpopular outcomes, commiserate with those who elected them about how unresponsive and ill advised a particular regulation or agency was, and promise to look into it.  Naturally, the latter happens rarely and always ineffectively.  Impeding them would defeat the entire purpose of creating regulatory agencies in the first place.

With the last five years’ worth of blatant “in your face” middle-fingers from the government to the American people, the country is finally — finally — approaching a point where it will reform the government.  There is absolutely no chance of that happening from within the government — it is simply too corrupt and too powerful.  The squeals about reform you’re hearing from government apparatchiks like CDC director Walensky need to be seen as the political theater they are, and that is all they are — kabuki intended to tone down popular resentment over gross power abuse but without changing anything that matters one whit.  If the government is going to change, We the People are going to have to change it.

Get it through your head: nobody high up in any government bureaucracy has any intention of altering government for the benefit of the average American.  Nobody.  They’ve grown so wealthy, so entitled, and so full of hubris that they believe they are uniquely suited to determine what is in the interest of the “Greater Good.”  They believe they should be able to constrain all of the pivotal decisions in everyone’s life.  They are the few who ought to determine the substrate in which everyone else exists, and thereby curtail their options to those few that are acceptable to Those Who Know Best.  That is the goal toward which they have been and are working.

On the other hand, look at it from their perspective.  They’ve been double-dealing the public for over 50 years and been wildly successful.  Where else can someone without any perceptible talent or skill spend decades doing virtually nothing for a $100K+ annual salary, and leave that position a mega-multi-millionaire?  That is one of the most common stories among our legislative class.  They like to call themselves “public servants” and “guardians of democracy.”  If only there were a kernel of truth to either term.

Do you know when Congress last passed a budget?  (Jeopardy music here…) It was 2009.  The nation has been living on continuing resolutions ever since.  Why is that the case?  Fundamentally, it’s because the public has let it be so.  There are many adjectives for a group of people who’d let such a situation persist as long as Americans have; none of them is flattering.