Bureaucracies are necessary when governance collapses

OlympianSeptember 9, 2013 

(Martha Pierce(STEVE BLOOM)staff photographer

STEVE BLOOM — The Olympian Buy Photo

 The waning of summer brings nostalgia and connections to other times. Readers may recall the heyday of cheap travel when many traveled with the guide book “Europe on 5 Dollars a Day.”

Today that will amuse most people. One summer, I was one of those doing the $5-a-day tour. I was in Rome in an inexpensive hotel near a railroad station where many teachers and faculty members were staying. The year was a time when the government of Italy had collapsed and the nation was being run by the bureaucracy of the country.

In the evening, many of us were sitting in the hotel garden, drinking scotch or wine asking questions of the young engineers also staying in the hotel. I was curious about the news from several engineers and we all questioned them about the government and how it was being run. They informed us that Italy was being run by its bureaucrats and they were doing a wellorganized job.

Today, I am reminded that the government in Washington, D.C., is also being run by the bureaucracy, as in several states. Why is this often a denigrated area of governance forced to lead where elected officials have abdicated their role?

Bureaucrats are hired to fill agencies and departments and consequently are the machinery of governing. They have unions who protect their interests from the intransigence of political parties. Governments without a bureaucracy can falter and sometimes collapse. Yet often the cry is to want to reduce these agencies and departments for

in the minds of some they waste public funds, overreach their duties.

One department, the Pentagon, is probably one of the most expensive bureaucracies we have. We store, at a cost, obsolete planes and other materiel of war. Why? We might need to use them. They should all be sold for scrap or stored where nuclear waste is stored.

President Barck Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, along with others, are having to govern with and through the bureaucracy because, for the most part, Congress has abdicated the role given them by the voters and the Constitution. The president and the e xecutive branch have no choice given the dysfunction of Congress.

We can call it Republican t ea p arty mess, or l ibertarian populism or any other name like Burkeian Cycle, but the results are the same: an abdication of those on the right in Congress to do their job.

They are paid and receive benefits from taxpayers, but they do no work. It is not mandated in the Constitution that members of Congress pursue a path of destruction, dismantle government, destroy the union. For those hardworking members of Congress who want to do a constructive governing job, the frustration is high.

Yet unions and bureaucratic pensions have become the scapegoats for what is wrong with government. Not the overpaid legislators who want to reduce government to a non functioning size.

We are a large country with large requirements and we cannot

be expected to operate on the budget of a small town of less than three thousand population. This nation and many states face the demands of accomplishing something positive before the end of the year, thus it is time for the adults in legislative bodies to do some work that is worthwhile and justify not only their existence but their salaries and benefits.

We all know hard-working bureaucrats — who are heads of households and parents, single or not — who work loyally to keep the nation or state going. Let’s recognize their worth and not blame them for the sophomoric and power hungry.

Martha J. Pierce is a member of The Olympian’s Board of Contributors. She may be reached at Marbill83@comcast   net.

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