Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Who’s Going to Work?

America is in a peculiar situation: Many able-bodied working age men 25-54 years old are not working. About 7 million men of working age are in this group.  The percentage of non-working men of the age group 25-54 is higher now that it was at the end of the Great Depression in the 1930’s! Is this because of an economic decline in gross domestic product (GDP); or is it because they are significantly disabled and unable to work; or because they do not have any family responsibilities that need monetary income? The answers to all these options is NO. These men are not working because of other reasons. What are the reasons?

This trend of work place drop-out has been evident since the mid 1960’s. This trend of voluntary unemployment has followed a persistently upward trend line not correlated with economic booms and recessions, indicating that weak market demand is not driving this tendency. Again, what is causing this exodus from the American work force?

This phenomenon in our culture may fairly be called a “flight from work.” This situation of working-age men not working is not because jobs are not available. As a matter of fact, manufacturers are finding it difficult to fill job vacancies because qualified men do not apply for the jobs.

No, I think we must look elsewhere for the cause of this “flight from work.” In years gone by, working men were called “tradesmen,” men who might rightly identify themselves as carpenters, plumbers, stone masons, brick layers, cement and asphalt workers, etc. They had jobs that required the application of hands and muscles. Those jobs gave these men their identities, they had real concrete work to do. Those men could look at a house and say, “I built that.” They could take satisfaction in a job they had done well.   

Now, however, many of those jobs have been taken over by machines or other kinds of technologies. The jobs that are left are on assembly lines tightening a thousand bolts every day on automobile chasses as they pass by the worker on a conveyer belt. That kind of work is humiliating and demoralizing; few workers can tolerate it for long. The drop-out rate from that kind of work is significant; and the drop-outs retreat to the couch or the soup kitchen.

In 1913 when Henry Ford launched his first fully automatic production line, he encountered something he had not expected. Every time the company wanted to add 100 men to their factory personnel, it was necessary to hire 963 men! The drop-out rate was huge.

The only part of this cohort of non-employed working-age men who largely hold jobs are married men living with their families and recent immigrants. The rest are lounging on the couch watching TV, binging on alcohol, sugar, pornography, and pain killers. Three out of five of these men are receiving at least one disability benefit from the government. It is conceded by thoughtful observers that this government financial benefit may not be the cause of all this unemployment, but it is certainly financing it!

Even though there may be reasons for the “flight from work,” one may still suspect that government handouts might be part of the cause for the phenomenon. A look at the numbers on government subsidy is enlightening. At this time, approximately 275 million people are receiving government financial support. Some people receive more than one kind of subsidy. Let’s look at the figures taken from the U.S. census for 2013. When looking at the figures below, bear in mind that we are considering a total population in the United States of 307 million: (numbers in the table are given in millions)

Food stamps
Women, infants, & children (WIC)
SSI (disability payments)
Subsidized housing
Veterans’ benefits
Social Security

One category that is rapidly growing is the category of Medicaid. In 1990 9% of the population was on Medicaid. By 2015, 19% of our population was on Medicaid. The people on Social Security and Medicare are mostly retired persons who have paid into those programs out of their working income from earlier years; I do not consider them to be recipients of welfare spending.

These figures are alarming; and it can be seen that our nation is fast becoming an entitlement organization. When one learns that Congressional Democrats are pushing for more Medicaid spending, one might wonder where all the money is coming from.

Think about it!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Pushback Against Liberal Thinking—Is Populism the Answer?

Times are changing, and the utopias of the post-World War II period have not beenrealized. At the end of that war, the peoples of the civilized nations were sick andtired of racism, nationalism, war, and concentration camps—the results gleaned from  attempts at national glorification. They sought relief in rejection of traditional modes of governance and the ways their economies were being managed.

Three decades of mass mobilization for war had left Europe exhausted, and a consensus formed that the West could not endure another round of nationalist zealotry. Furthermore, advancing scientific discoveries had replaced old systems of thought. But, scientific thinking could not find genuine values in life as older Christian leadership had done. Progressive ideas continuously eroded old values until the only thing left was a sort of worship of the individual and his unfettered freedom.

Populist movements rose and fell, all designed to express the disenchantment of older ways of thinking.  

However, populist movements have a way of going sour. An example of this was the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Spaniards were suffering under authoritarian government operated by wealthy and elite bureaucrats.  Populist support in opposition of such government arose under the leadership of General Francisco Franco. That movement was allied with fascist guerilla-type fighters, but Franco’s own conservative authoritarianism outfitted itself with Christian trappings to suit his followers. The war resulted in Franco’s iron-fisted rule of the Iberian Peninsula until his death in 1975; and his rule turned out to be just as bad or worse than the rule of his predecessors. The war was an example of how populism had gone wrong—thousands of people (on both sides of the conflict) were viciously murdered. The dignity of the individual, an early aim of the conflict, was not attained in this bloody war.

In America, today, we have the result of a populist movement that was opposed to governmental control in Washington.  That populist movement swept Donald Trump into office. Nationalism is now on the ascendant. Isolationist tendencies are being proposed to replace global responsibilities. We Americans need to be vigilant and watch carefully. Many are happy with Trumpian government; but we must maintain a suspicious attitude. I, for one, wonder if we can trust a serial adulterer with the reins of power in our republic. I think it is a shame that we can never seem to elect a committed Christian with practical governing skills to our highest office.

I am indebted to R. R. Reno and Samuel Moyn, writing in First Things, May 2017 for most of the thoughts expressed in this short essay.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Are You Confused About the New Health Care Bill?


Let me help you understand what is going on!

I have been very confused, myself, about the health care bill, which Republicans are trying to pass through Congress and the Senate. But…after a lot of study, I think I have a pretty good handle on it; and I would like to share the understanding I have gleaned.

First, many of the features conservatives in Congress want in the bill cannot be included, because Senate rules prohibit inclusion of anything not directly related to money costs. Those changes are the ones that conservative Republicans want the most. One example is the present requirement of the Obamacare law, which requires old people to buy obstetrical services, a service they can never use. Another example is the absence in Obamacare of any mention of tort reform (Tort reform would prevent lawyers from charging exorbitant fees for handling malpractice suits.) Republicans propose to include those changes in upcoming bills to be presented in phase three of their proposed health care law changes.

The main features of the proposed law have to do with how health insurance will be financed. Republicans propose to help people pay for their insurance coverage by means of “tax credits,” paid to the purchaser based on his/her age and income status. The term, “tax credits” is an unfortunate term, because it has absolutely nothing to do with taxes. “Tax credits” are really subsidies paid to purchasers based on their age and income; they work just like welfare payment subsidies. The reason legislators like to call these payments “tax credits” is that the term is more acceptable to tax payers than “welfare subsidies.”  These subsidies are an acceptable way to lower the cost of health insurance.

One huge objection that Republicans have with the Obamacare law is that it allows people to wait until they are sick to buy insurance coverage. That feature has escalated the cost of health care insurance to an extreme degree. Insurance, by its very definition, must allow only people without a present illness to purchase coverage.

People buy insurance because they might get sick, not because they are sick. If sick people are allowed to buy “insurance,” the situation would be analogous to allowing auto drivers to buy car insurance after the accident occurs. This makes no sense; and it escalates the cost of insurance.

So, one may ask, what is to become of sick people without previous health care insurance who need medical care urgently? The answer is, States would receive $100 billion over 10 years through a new Patient and State Stability Fund for safety-net needs and possible “high-risk pools” for consumers with preexisting expensive medical conditions. These safety net funds will be administered by the states rather than the Federal Government. Supposedly, that feature of the new legislation will answer the question of how to finance these difficult cases.

The new Republican bill will eliminate the present penalty arrangement included in the Obamacare law that forces many people to buy insurance. Democrats and the Congressional Budget Office claim that many people will refuse to buy insurance if the penalty is eliminated; and that objection is entirely valid. Under this new law, many people will drop their health insurance coverage. Nevertheless, Republicans believe that people should have the option of what they want to buy. For instance, a young person in his/her 20’s who has very little likelihood of needing health insurance should be allowed to buy it if he/she wants it; and if it is not wanted, it should not be required. Of course, this change will eliminate a lot of money paid into health insurance companies that Democrats want to be shifted into the care of the elderly who have much more chronic disease needing medical treatment. The lack of insurance policies for the young will probably increase premiums for older people and even middle class people with families. This is a valid objection to the new law.

The Republican answer to the above objection is that the new law will eliminate the Obamacare mandates that people must buy insurance they don’t need. People will be allowed to buy only insurance they want and need; that will bring premiums down. As I mentioned above, Obamacare mandates that people who buy insurance under that law must pay for coverage they don’t need. Examples of those unnecessary coverages are for dental care for children when there are no children in the family, obstetrical care when the family is too old to need it, psychiatric care and drug abuse treatment that may not be necessary, and several other types of unnecessary coverage. 

Of course, the Democrats recognize that there are problems with Obamacare. But…their solution to those problems is to exercise more government control over personal choices for health insurance. Also, they will push for coerced insurance for all, and, as always, throw more money at the problems.

If the American Health Care Act fails, it will do so at the hands of conservative Republicans in the Freedom Caucus and others. I think that Republicans should quit looking for a perfect fix to the Obamacare law and accept the best that can be obtained in the present political environment. Continuing to push for perfection will never work!


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Does God Exist? You Bet He Does!

First, there is the argument from design. It simply states that whenever one sees something that is designed, one can deduce from that there was behind this “something,” a designer, a creator. Our world was obviously designed—thus…a Designer did it. 

Whenever one sees a moral quality to something in existence, there must be behind it, a moral author. Morals do not crop up spontaneously. That “something behind morals and the principles of right and wrong, good and evil” must be a moral Creator, i.e., God. Therefore, God must exist. 

An argument for the existence of God comes from Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy at Boston College. Dr. Kreeft has written:

“I’m going to argue for the existence of God on the premise that moral good and evil really exist. They are not simply a matter of personal taste; not merely substitutes for ‘I like’ and ‘I don’t like’.  “To clarify, this does not mean that atheists cannot be moral; of course, they can. Just like theists can act immorally. 

“So, where do good and evil come from?

“Atheists commonly propose a few possibilities: evolution, reason, conscience, human nature and utilitarianism. None of these, however, can be the ultimate source of morality.

“Evolution?  Any supposed morality that is evolving can change.  If it can change for the good or the bad, then there must be a standard above these changes by which we judge them as good or bad. An example of this is that throughout human history, more powerful societies have enslaved weaker societies—and prospered.  That’s just the way it was, and no one questioned it. Today, we condemn slavery.  But, based on an evolutionary model, one that is ever changing, who is to say that slavery might be acceptable again one day? Slavery was once accepted, but it was not, therefore, right and good. If you can’t make that distinction between something being accepted and being good, then you can’t criticize slavery!  If you can see the distinction, then you are admitting to objective morality.

“Reasoning?  Whereas reasoning is a powerful tool to help us discover and/or understand morality, it cannot be the source of morality.  For example, criminals use reasoning to plan a murder, without their reasoning telling them that murder is wrong. And was it reasoning or something higher than reasoning that led those Gentiles to save the lives of Jews threatened by the Holocaust?  The answer is obvious: it was something higher than reasoning, because risking one’s life to save the life of a stranger was a very unreasonable thing to do. 

“Conscience?  Conscience, alone, cannot be the source of morality. Every person has his own conscience, and some appear to have none. Heinrich Himmler, commander of the brutal Nazi SS, successfully appealed to his henchmen’s consciences to help him do the ‘right thing’ in murdering and torturing millions of Jews and others.  How can you say that your conscience is right and Himmler’s was wrong if conscience alone is the source of morality?  Answer: you can’t.

“Human Nature?  Some people say that human nature is the ultimate source of morality.  But, human nature can lead us to do all sorts of reprehensible things. In fact, human nature is the very reason we need morality. Our human nature can lead some of us to do real evil, and all of us to be selfish, unkind, petty and egocentric.  We surely would not want to live in a world where human nature was unrestrained. Human nature cannot be a reliable source to tell us whether an act is good or evil—thus, moral or immoral.

“Utilitarianism?   Utilitarianism is the claim that what is morally right is determined by whatever creates the greatest happiness for the greatest number. But, to return to our slavery example, if 90% of the people in a society get great benefit from enslaving the other 10%, would that make slavery right?  According to utilitarianism—it would.

“Now that we see where morality cannot come from, let’s see where it does come from.  What are moral laws?

“Unlike the laws of physics or the laws of mathematics, that tell us ‘what is’, the laws of morality tell us ‘what ought to be’.  But, like physical laws, they direct and order something, and that ‘something’ is right human behavior. But, since morality does not exist physically (there are no moral atoms, or cells or genes) its Cause must be something that exists apart from the physical world. That thing must, therefore, be above nature, i.e. supernatural. The very existence of morality proves the existence of something that is beyond nature and beyond man.  Just as a design suggests a designer, moral commandments suggest a Moral Commander.  Moral laws must come from a Moral Lawgiver.  That Source is God, the One Who has revealed Himself in His Word.

“So then, the conclusion of this argument is that whenever you appeal to morality, you are appealing to God, whether you are willing to admit it or not. You are talking about something religious, even if you think you are an atheist.” 

“When we discuss the existence of God, we define Him as a perfect Being, greater than anything else which can be conceived. If God does not exist, then the very name "God" refers to an imaginary being. This makes the definition of "God" contradictory, for to be real, to be living, to have power, is greater than to be imaginary. It is clear that I cannot even discuss the word "God", by definition, if He does not exist. I must conceive of Him as really existing in order for Him to be greater than anything else, for a God Who does not exist obviously cannot be greater than anything else.  "For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?  God forbid: Let God be true, though every man were a liar." Romans 3.4

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11.6”

Anselm, Bishop of Canterbury, lived 1033-1109. Anselm devised a system of thinking that has since been named Scholasticism, which dominated the Medieval world for hundreds of years. Anselm’s greatest contribution to philosophy was his development of what has been called, the “ontological” argument.  (Ontology is the study of being and existence.) In Anselm’s own words, his basic proof of God’s existence rests in his statement that God is "that than which nothing greater can be conceived." I do not pretend to be able to delve to the depths of all the things Bishop Anselm wrote and thought about this principle; but I can try to understand: The reasoning behind this principle is that there is nothing of which we can conceive that cannot be improved. In other words, there is no object or thought that cannot be replaced by something greater. However, there must come eventually, something that is at the end of improvement or created greatness. That “something” must be God, Himself. Therefore, He must exist.

Well…I hope I have convinced some of my readers of the truth of God’s existence. I pray His blessings on each of you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Federalism Returning??

In recent decades, Federalism, i.e., the equal sharing of legislative power between the national government and the states, has been greatly eroded by the advance of power vested in the various national governmental agencies. Many of these agencies are not under the control of the Congress or, even, the Executive—they seem to function autonomously. This has manifested an erosion of the system of checks and balances originally designed by the writers of our Constitution. The most blatant example of this take-over of power has been the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA.

The President-elect, Donald Trump has nominated for head of this agency, Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General of Arizona. Mr. Pruitt has been known for his strong stand for states’ rights and limitation of power in the EPA. This nomination has infuriated the political left that wants more, not less, power in the agency. However, the EPA has greatly overstepped its powers in interpreting the governmental control given to it in the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Those three Acts were specifically designed to allow the EPA to set minimum standards, provide technical support, and engage in enforcement occasionally. These functions were designed by Congress to work together with the states to protect and use the benefits of a good environment. Nevertheless, the EPA has grossly overstepped its prerogatives and imposed on the states and the whole country, rules and regulations that interfere with personal liberties, local economies, and states’ rights. 

Under EPA supervision, and according to the laws referenced above, the states are allowed to craft their own implementation plans for handling environmental problems within their own boundaries. If those plans do not comport with national guidelines, the EPA is authorized to empower national guidelines of its own design. When the EPA does this, the action is the equivalent of a seizure of authority from the state. The agency took that authority exactly five times under the administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Since Barack Obama has overseen the national government, the EPA has grabbed control of state environmental regulations 56 times! This obvious over-reach of power by the EPA has made a strong statement to the states that Big Brother knows more about how states should be run than the states, themselves. This illicit power grab is one obvious manifestation of the progressive philosophy of the Obama administration which says, “Unelected ‘experts’ should govern Americans from the central government. Those experts should not be under the control of the Congress or of the people in general.”

Scott Pruitt has been a leader among states’ attorneys general opposing the EPA; and it is my opinion that he is exactly the one who should be placed in control of that agency—we need to bring back control of our states to our states.

This blog post was largely excerpted from an op-ed by Kimberley Strassel in the Wall Street Journal on 12-8-16.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Administrative State—A Republic No More

There are three important tenets of American constitutionalism:

1)    The first is the principle of non-delegation. If the separation of powers means anything at all, it means that one branch of government may not permit its powers to be exercised substantially by another branch.

2)    The second tenet is a corollary of the first: There may be no combination of functions or powers within a single branch. In other words, the legislative branch must stick to legislation; the executive branch must execute and enforce the legislation; and the judicial branch must judge the legislation and executive functions in light of the Constitution. There is to be no overlap in these functions.

3)    The third tenet of the separation of powers is the responsibility of administration to the republican executive. The government remains "wholly popular," in the words of Federalist 14, because those who carry out the law (administrators, under the traditional meaning of the term) are directly answerable to the President, who is elected. 

United States government is today inundated with a plethora of agencies that operate independently of the executive and congressional powers that created them. This large group of agencies is quite rightly called the fourth branch of government. In addition to its being part of the government, in the first place, the whole batch of agencies realistically controls more government decisions and enforcement than the conventional branches of government, e.g., the Executive, the Congress, and the Judiciary.

This gang of agencies, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the FTC (the Federal Trade Commission), the SEC (the Securities and Exchange Commission), and hundreds more have their origins in political thought that arose in the late 19th Century under the impetus of leaders such as Woodrow Wilson and Frank Goodnow.

Wilson, Goodnow, and others were reacting to the spoils system of appointing unqualified friends to government jobs, which had been going on since the 1820’s and the administration of Andrew Jackson.

Those leaders saw the Federal Government inundated with tasks that needed to be done (or…that the government desired to have done) and which were overburdening the elected officials of the government with administrative tasks. They also saw that many of these multiple tasks needed expert advice and management at the top of the bureaucracy. They believed the complexity of government mandated the creation of agencies headed by enlightened and well-motivated bureaucrats. They longed for a day when multiple government agencies would rule the nation through intelligent, thoughtful, benevolent, public-minded experts. They thought that agencies with leaders like that could rule the country better than it was being ruled along Constitutional lines. The ideas and organization of American Progressives were launched.

These ideas percolated through political minds for several decades. President Wilson used much of this new theory of government to manage his great task of motivating the U.S. population to fight World War II. During that war, President Wilson grabbed power at will. He set aside many Constitutional rights and privileges from the people. In fact, he acted much like an emperor or king in putting his ideas through.  He was extremely successful; Americans fought and 50,000 of them died sub serving the policies of President Wilson and, it must be admitted, the American people.

As a practical matter, however, the modern manifestation of Wilson and Goodnow’s ideas came with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, which launched a large bureaucracy and empowered it with broad governing authority. Also, as a practical matter, the agencies comprising the bureaucracy reside within the executive branch of our national government, however, their powers transcend the traditional boundaries of executive power to include legislative, judicial, and even enforcement functions. These powers are often exercised in a manner that is independent of presidential control and altogether independent of political forces.

Goodnow explained that this conception of administration was novel, considering as it did the sphere of administration to lie outside the sphere of constitutional law; indeed, this new conception is exactly what Wilson had given Goodnow credit for in 1894. He knew, as Wilson did, that such a concept was a novelty in the American political tradition. Modern administrative law, therefore, would take it for granted that the political branches of government had to cede significant discretion to administrative agencies.

In making his case for freeing administration from political influence, Goodnow did not speak of a strict or rigid separation between politics and administration; indeed, he noted that the boundary between the two is difficult to define and that there would inevitably be overlap. But this overlap seems to be in one direction only, in a manner that enlarges the orbit of administration; that is, Goodnow seemed to contemplate instances where administrative organs would exercise political functions but apparently did not contemplate instances of political organs engaging in administrative activity. He characterized the function of politics as "expressing" the will of the state, while the function of administration is to "execute" the will of the state; but he made clear that the overlap between politics and administration would come in the form of administrative agencies taking a share in "expressing" and well as "executing" state will:

The key to trusting administrators with the kind of discretion that Goodnow envisioned was his profound faith in the expertness and objectivity of the administrative class, just as it had been for Wilson. Administrators could be freed from political control because they were "neutral." Their salary and tenure would take care of any self-interested inclinations that might corrupt their decision making, liberating them to focus solely on truth and the good of the public as a whole.

For Goodnow, it is the connection to electoral politics that makes administrators corrupt, while the absence of accountability to the electorate somehow makes them pure. Politics, Goodnow explained, is "polluted" and full of "bias," whereas administration is all about the "truth."

Conclusion: The Legacy of Progressivism

A glance at the primary features of the modern state shows continuities between it and the main principles of Progressivism. In particular, the constitutional separation-of-powers structure that was designed to preserve individual rights and uphold the rule of law has been considerably weakened, and we can see the effects of Progressivism on the three key tenets of the separation of powers that were described at the outset of this essay. In essence, the separation of powers has been junked by Progressive ideas and the administrative branch.

The Supreme Court ceased applying the non-delegation principle after 1935 and allowed to stand a whole body of statutes that enact the new vision of administrative power. These statutes, to varying degrees, lay out Congress's broad policy aims in vague and undefined terms and delegate to administrative agencies the task of coming up with specific rules and regulations to give them real meaning. The executive agencies, in other words, are no longer confined to carrying out specific rules enacted by Congress, but are often left to themselves to determine the rules before seeing to their enforcement.

For example, securities legislation giving the SEC the power to proscribe the use of "any manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance in contravention of such rules and regulations as the Commission may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors." The agency, on the basis of its expertise, and not Congress, on the basis of its electoral connection, is charged with determining the specific policy that best serves the "public interest." In another example, legislation on broadcast licenses directs that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shall grant licenses "if public convenience, interest, or necessity will be served thereby."

More recently, the Supreme Court under William Rehnquist made clear that there would be no revisiting the abandonment of non-delegation. In the case of Mistretta v. United States, the Court upheld the statute that delegated to the U.S. Sentencing Commission the power to set sentences (or sentencing guidelines) for most federal crimes. If any case were going to constitute grounds for non-delegation review, it would have been this one. Congress created the Sentencing Commission as, essentially, a temporary legislature with no purpose other than to establish criminal penalties and then to go out of existence. But Mistretta simply served as confirmation that the federal courts were not going to bring the legitimacy of the administrative state into question by resurrecting the separation of powers.

Progressive liberalism has also succeeded, at least partly, in defeating the third tenet of the separation-of-powers framework by weakening the political accountability of administrators in the agencies and shielding a large subset of agencies from most political controls. Federal courts have recognized the power of Congress to create agencies that are presumably part of the executive (where else, constitutionally, could they be?) but are nonetheless shielded from direct presidential control. Normally, this shielding is accomplished by limiting the President's freedom to remove agency personnel. In Humphrey's Executor v. United States, however, the Supreme Court overturned the President's removal of an FTC commissioner by reasoning that the Commission was more legislative and judicial than it was executive. More recently, it upheld the Independent Counsel provisions of the Ethics in Government Act, concluding that even an office as obviously executive in nature as a prosecutor could be shielded from presidential control.

These rulings reflect the acceptance of a key tenet of the modern administrative state: that many areas of administration are based upon expertise and neutral principles and must therefore be freed from the influence of politics. That such a notion has become ingrained in the American political mindset was evidenced by the near universal outrage expressed over the Supreme Court's 2000 decision in FDA v. Brown and Williamson. In this surprising exception to its standard deference for agencies, the Court ruled that before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could promulgate and enforce regulations on tobacco, Congress first had to pass a law actually giving the agency the authority to do so. The decision, which simply upheld the rule of law, was denounced because it would subject tobacco regulation to the control of the people's elected representatives in Congress, where tobacco-state legislators might derail it, instead of giving FDA scientists carte blanche to regulate in accord with their own expertise.

The acquiescence in the realms of law, politics, and culture to the concepts of delegation, combination of functions, and insulating administration from political control is explained by what legal scholars call the victory of "functionalism" over "formalism," or what political theorists might loosely translate as "pragmatism" over "originalism." Simply defined, a functionalist or pragmatic approach begins not with the forms of the Constitution, but with the necessities of the current age, thereby freeing government from the restraints of the Constitution so that the exigencies of today can be met. As one scholar argues, "Respect for 'framers' intent' is only workable in the context of the actual present, and may require some selectivity in just what it is we choose to respect." This sentiment, elevating expedience and efficiency over the separation of powers, was expressed very clearly by Justice Blackmun in his opinion for the Court in Mistretta: "Our jurisprudence has been driven by a practical understanding that in our increasingly complex society, replete with ever changing and more technical problems, Congress simply cannot do its job absent an ability to delegate power under broad general directives."

The rise of the administrative state that is such an integral feature of modern liberalism thus required the defeat of the separation of powers as a governing principle, at least as it was originally understood, and its replacement by a system that allows delegations of power, combination of functions, and the insulation of administration from the full measure of political and legal control.

The above blog was excerpted from a paper by Ronald J. Pestritto, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science at Hillsdale College and a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. The original paper was published by the Heritage Foundation Nov. 20, 2007.

The problems posed by the development of the administrative state is the prototypical problem described in the recent book by Jay Cost—A Republic No More and the Rise of Political Corruption.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Administrative State—A Republic No More

American government has been markedly changed since the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, who instituted the New Deal. A plethora of autonomous agencies have been organized and have served to manage governmental affairs without adequate executive or legislative supervision. Hundreds of these agencies are active today.

The rise of the administrative state that is such an integral feature of modern liberalism and Progressive policies has required the defeat of the separation of powers as a governing principle, as it was originally understood, and its replacement by a system that allows delegations of power, combination of functions, and the insulation of administration from the full measure of political and legal control.

I have written an extensive paper on this subject, which I am not going to post on my blog, because it is a bit too long for the usual reader. Anyone interested in this subject is welcome to write to me; and I will gladly send you my more complete description of this problem. My e-mail address is 

The problems posed by the development of the administrative state is the prototypical problem described in the recent book by Jay Cost—A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption. Mr. Cost has repeatedly pointed out in his book that our American polity has developed without adequate structural change to keep up with the functional requirements to justify these administrative changes.