The Corner

Big in the Wrong Places

Our federal government is way too big, no doubt about it. David Gergen, whom I must say I personally have always found to be a sure-fire insomnia cure, opines on the topic in my Sunday newspaper’s pull-out Parade supplement today.

Meanwhile, The Economist estimates that the federal government now employs a quarter of a million people to write and enforce regulations.

Etc., etc. There’s a problem within the problem, though. It’s not just that the feddle gummint is too big over all; it’s that the parts that should be small, or better yet non-existent, are way too big, while the parts that should be big are too small.

The main part of my Sunday newspaper – which is, of course, America’s Newspaper of Record – has a story illustrating this problem-within-a-problem.

Illegal immigrant’s 145G ‘deport gift’

An illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet got a $145,000 parting gift from New York City taxpayers before he was deported, after city lawyers decided his civil rights had been violated when he was held too long on Rikers Island.

The guy, an illegal from Barbados, was kept in a holding pen at Rikers (the local bridewell) for a month before being transferred to ICE. Illegals are entitled to a speedy and non-abusive deportation, so he has a legitimate beef.

Why was he held so long, though?

The landmark settlement has prompted the Correction Department to dump scores of illegal immigrants on the streets, since federal officials often fail to pick them up within the required two-day window.

The charitable interpretation here is that ICE is way too understaffed to cope with its caseload of illegals. Perhaps some of those quarter-million regulation-writers could be seconded to ICE to help out?

The un-charitable interpretation is that ICE has its head firmly jammed up where the sun don’t shine…but being the very soul of charity – ask anybody! – I shall not pursue that line of thought.

Footnote: While looking for federal branches from which we might second people to help out ICE, let’s not neglect the military:

Gates rattled off examples of costly bureaucracy inside the military, as well. A simple request for a dog-handling team in Afghanistan must be reviewed and assessed at multiple high-level headquarters before it can be deployed to the war zone. “Can you believe it takes five four-star headquarters to get a decision on a guy and a dog up to me?” Gates said to reporters Friday.

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