The biggest internal threat to American freedom, in my opinion, comes from the erection of an unaccountable bureaucratic state. It would be softly authoritarian, without jack boots, but liberty-eroding nonetheless.
Indeed, I believe many liberals (in particular) yearn for a technocracy, in which “the experts” decide policy, minion bureaucrats manage, the SEIU types provide the services and hand out the free phones, while a large portion of the population forgets how be self-reliant and become “clients” of the government, in the old Roman sense of the term. They get the stuff, and in return, provide the loyal support to keep the power structure in place. That’s what the EU is becoming and the left wants it here, too. Think Brussels on the Potomac.
Now, to my pleasant surprise, the left leaning law professor Jonathan Turley warns that the “fourth branch” of government–the bureaucracy–has badly eroded American liberty, and in the Washington Post! From, “The Rise of the Fourth Branch of Government:”
The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.
This rulemaking comes with little accountability. It’s often impossible to know, absent a major scandal, whom to blame for rules that are abusive or nonsensical.
Turley illustrates how this hurts average people. For example, more people face adjudication before regulatory boards than go to court:
As the number of federal regulations increased, however, Congress decided to relieve the judiciary of most regulatory cases and create administrative courts tied to individual agencies. The result is that a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court. In a given year, federal judges conduct roughly 95,000 adjudicatory proceedings, including trials, while federal agencies complete more than 939,000.
These agency proceedings are often mockeries of due process, with one-sided presumptions and procedural rules favoring the agency.
In the new regulatory age, presidents and Congress can still change the government’s priorities, but the agencies effectively run the show based on their interpretations and discretion. The rise of this fourth branch represents perhaps the single greatest change in our system of government since the founding. We cannot long protect liberty if our leaders continue to act like mere bystanders to the work of government.
This isn’t Mark Levin! It is Jonathan Turley, and he has written a solid caveat against the freedom-trapping tar pit that our government is becoming. Read the whole thing. It is well worth your time.