New Normal

I don’t want to blame Obama for these revelations about intrusive government. The whole idea of the government getting phone records came from W’s cronies. The intrusion into the reporters’ sources is in a similar vein. Drones. This whole security complex is simply beyond any one president. Blogger Jonathan Turley writes about The rise of the fourth branch of government in the Washington Post May 24th. He refers mostly to the sizable cadre of workers overseeing entitlement programs and various agencies, and the nearly unchecked power they have as their own entity. The defense department is undoubtedly part of this same estate.

Our elected leaders created and grew these agencies, and they do important, justified work. Any organization assumes a culture, a set of beliefs based on its mission and how it will save the world. The President is constantly barraged with requests from these department heads on how vital it is they each do this or that. And they perpetuate and grow as the world gets more complex. These guys are just doing their jobs. Still, I blame this fourth branch for this current branch of scandals.

What to do about these issues? Our government is vastly bigger than it was, and I think the founding fathers would not recognize it. The Tea Party and other crazies would likely to see our government slashed in size, but that is hardly the solution.

There are several factors that got us into this mess. One is a passive public. They claim to not be interested in politics and they don’t trust those wild politicians anyway. There is the reality that government should and does grow over time. There are more people, many of them needy, or veterans, or victims. Corporate power grows, and grows more complex, which begs for checking. With every trend of injustice and corporate conflagration, we demand the government to respond. So, it grows unchecked, opaque.

Furthermore, the fourth estate, the press is private, and thrives on market share, which is driven by excitement, which is best delivered in short sound bites and provocation. The nature of the press is to tell everyone what is wrong, and sound the alarm. These efforts often come at the expense of, say, understanding the issues and facts.

Next, we have a political party whose prime duty is to protect the wealth of its members. It has morphed itself into a propaganda machine that tells us all taxes are bad, and to be filthy rich is not something the rest of the populace may experience, but is nevertheless absolutely necessary. And those of you who claim to see beyond that are degenerate and unpatriotic.

It’s like three trains, all driving in different directions. And we are angry they are not coming to our house.

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About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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One Response to New Normal

  1. JP says:

    I think you’re right that Obama isn’t personally to blame, at least in the sense that he didn’t directly order or even know about some of the stuff. That illustrates the problems with complicated systems, and to some extent perhaps that at least at the beginning he may have been in a little over his head (which has been pretty well documented). He’s been there long enough now, and the nature of the job is that the buck stops with you. (It is worth remembering that mainly because of all the budget cuts–mostly forced by Republicans, but gone along with by all too willing Democrats and Obama himself, and isn’t it great where austerity has gotten us–there are about 700,000 FEWER federal government employees now than there were when Obama came into office. It isn’t simply the size of government that is the determining factor on government efficiency or opacity, and a case can easily be made that it would be less opaque if we hadn’t eliminated many of the needed oversight positions. See: Fertilizer plant explodes after not being inspected in nearly 30 years.)
    And you are correct that much of the current policy/power grab of the presidency began under Bush. And therein lies the problem with ANY expansion of presidential power. It is very hard to later take that power away and give it back to the people. That is why I am very very wary of any expansion of presidential power (and with it the Big Brother state), whether it is a president I trust or one that I don’t.

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