Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Sun Sets on Washington D.C.

There was a time when even the highest government officials lived simpler lives.

 President George Washington made do with Tobias Lear, who not only served as his secretary, but also doubled as a diplomat and even measured his body for burial. President Thomas Jefferson made do with Meriwether Lewis as his personal secretary and Lewis also doubled as Jefferson’s explorer in the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Washington worked on an expense account instead of a salary. He began his presidency working out of a rented three story house that was later demolished as a slum clearance project to make way for the Brooklyn Bridge on a spot only a few minutes away from what is now Ground Zero.

Washington once said that government is “a troublesome servant and a fearful master.” Government has long ceased being a troublesome servant and has become our fearful master instead. Today the servants of the people have more servants of their own than many kings and queens.

The government shutdown has forced Obama to make do with only a quarter of his 1,701 person staff. That would leave 436 “vital” employees. The 90 people who look after his living quarters would be slashed to 15 to “provide minimum maintenance and support”.

Buckingham Palace, which is twelve times the size of the White House and has its own clockmaker, only has an 800 person staff. King Harald V of Norway and his court make do with 152 staffers. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden gets by with 203.

On Twitter, Michelle Obama announced that she is unable to Tweet on her own without the aid of all of her sixteen assistants; many of whom take home six figure salaries. There are more directors, associate directors and deputy associate directors on Michelle Obama’s staff than there were in George Washington’s entire administration.

Presidents have fought wars and made peace, explored and annexed vast territories and built a nation out of a handful of colonies with fewer senior staffers than are needed to handle Michelle Obama’s Twitter account.

In 2009, Oprah’s Harpo Productions released a video of celebrities pledging “to be a servant to our president.” The idea that presidents were to be the servants of the people rather than their masters had become outmoded.

There is a word for men who surround themselves with czars, who expand their staffs, who fly their dogs out on separate planes, who amuse themselves at the expense of the people at lavish parties, concerts and vacations. And it isn’t public servant.

The government shutdown with its furloughing of 800,000 Federal workers isn’t the apocalypse that the political establishment claims it is. The apocalypse is the very existence of 800,000 Federal workers who can be sent home without any apocalypse until some deal is hammered out and they return to their jobs within the bowels of a massive bureaucracy that extends its reach and influence into every household.

Servants don’t tell masters what to do. And that is the real function of much of the Federal workforce. The theatrics over national park closings and empty museums are window dressing meant to leave the false impression that the function of Federal workers is to open velvet ropes and point out the place where Dolly Madison once slept.

And that’s a dangerous lie.

The truth comes out in the more tangible concerns over permits. In a country where a permit is required to do nearly anything, the Federal government more closely resembles a permit processing system than anything else. The shutdown hurts businesses, not because they need the massive bureaucracy, but because it slows down the already onerous bureaucracy that makes it so hard to do business.

The Federal government employs nearly 3 million civilian workers. One for every 100 Americans. The only time we had more civilian workers than that was during the last days of World War II.

In 1944, the Department of Defense had 2.2 million civilian employees and civilian agencies like Justice, Treasury and Education had 683,000. By 2011, the situation was reversed. Despite fighting several wars, there were now 773,000 civilians in the Department of Defense and 1.3 million in the civilian agencies; a legacy of all our new lost social wars on poverty, marriage, literacy, morality and poor self-esteem.

In 1970, the Department of Defense drew the lion’s share of Federal spending. By 2010, it wasn’t even drawing 20% while the Department of Health and Human Service was accounting for nearly 25%. The cause of our current war, Obamacare, is the natural growth of that shift from fighting external enemies to fighting social problems while trying to manage the cost of the welfare state.

That same shrinkage turned the United Kingdom into a ghost of what it had once been. It is now doing it works to usher in a Post-American order.

In 1940, the Code of Federal Regulations was a mere 5,307 pages. Still more than any sane person could read through and a legacy of the New Deal. But it was only a foreshadowing of what was to come. By 2010, it was up to 81,405 pages.

We were now firmly in the land of thousand page omnibus bills that had to be passed to be fully known. We were living under a government whose top officials no longer knew what they were doing. They had passed on that responsibility to the vast bureaucracy of Federal employees who had become the true masters of the system.

There were still elections, but those 3 million Federal employees had come to matter more than the 100 senators and 435 representatives.

The government shutdown is a rebellion by the latter against the former. It is as if the Queen of England had attempted to displace the Prime Minister, as may be her legal right but is no longer considered her appropriate function. The monarchy had been replaced by a more republican form of government in all but form.

The United States government was similarly replaced by another form of government; an unelected bureaucracy whose officials, judges and permit-givers wield real power while the congressmen carry on with the forms of power, parading around and arguing over bills that they haven’t read. It’s every bit as much empty ceremony as the Queen of England’s clockmaker or the Yeomen Warders.

That is why the government shutdown and debates over the Debt Ceiling has outraged so much of the political elite. It’s as if the Queen had walked into No. 10 Downing Street accompanied by her favorite corgis, told Prime Minister Cameron to leave and attempted to actually govern the United Kingdom. It’s an offense against the forms of modernity which disposed of the monarchy and democracy replacing them with an ever-expanding bureaucracy, a mob of unelected officials and a web of regulations.

The media skulks around Washington D.C. filling pages with mournful prose more appropriate to Stalingrad or Homs than to Oakland-on-the-Potomac with a Versailles of government buildings. We learn that the barbershop in the Russell Senate Office Building is closed, the shoeshine stand stands empty and five of the six eateries are shuttered. Even the Senate gift shop has been shut down.

The underground subway system between the capitol buildings is running behind schedule and Senate aides have been ordered to turn off their government BlackBerry phones.

It’s all very sad for those people who have built their lives around working for the government, but it’s also a breath of reality entering a stale room whose occupants are completely out of touch with the economic situation in the rest of the country.

Government employees have a 4.2% unemployment rate compared to 8.6% for private sector workers and a union membership rate of 35.9% compared to 6.6% for private sector workers. The very people who made ObamaCare and will oversee ObamaCare have been immunized against its toxic effects.

There are indeed two Americas. There is the America of the worker and the America of his master; the public servant. There is the America of the small businessman and the America of the crony capitalist. There is the unreal America of the Obamas and their retinue of assistants, czars and chefs and the real America where fathers hunt through the job ads wondering how they will feed their families next week.

The government shutdown is bringing the real America into the unreal America. The parties are still going on and most Federal workers are staying on the job. Overtime is still being paid to government workers and the only thing that will really happen is that some of the paychecks will be a bit late.

It’s not the reality that most of the country is living with, but finally the Government Class is feeling a touch of the pain of the Working Class; that sense of helplessness and insecurity that has been alien to the masters living at the expense of the servants.

The sun has set over Versailles. And the sun isn’t supposed to set.

A million businesses may close. A million Americans may lose their homes. A million fathers may wonder how they will feed their children. But Government America was still supposed to grind on, growing fat on their toil, spending billions on a whim around the world and then sending in SWAT teams at the merest regulatory infraction.

“I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world,” George Washington said. Now the city named after him has become the home of a new Sun King and his empire of government workers. The farms have closed. The factories have been shut down. But the government buildings continue to rise.

Yesterday the sun set on Washington D.C. May it rise one day on a new nation whose leaders would rather be farmers than emperors.


Anonymous said...


meema said...

“Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” ~ John Adams

Ex-Dissident said...

Let them stay closed. Frankly, it makes me breathe a little easier.

Anonymous said...

Just picked up Mark Levin's book "The Liberty Amendments" where he plainly points out the fact there isn't a thing that doesn't have the greedy, tyrannical governments hand in it.

That we Americans have allowed the professional politician to rise to become our master is a reality that our founders warned would happen if we were not prepared to defend daily the natural tendency for the ambitious immoral man to gain the power to control other men.

Americans seem to like the fact that they are not enslaved to a single monarch but a to a slew of self-appointed aristocrats who micromanage their lives according to the latest whim of the insane radical (some among them). They have no qualms about the confiscation of property and wealth and the squashing of rights by these slavemasters and readily approve of their greed and immorality. The support, by too many Americans of the most unqualified, incompetent, greedy, immoral, wannabe dictator, twice, is a testament to how much they love the loss of liberty and rights.

Can the Republic be restored? The majority seem to like governments managing their lives for them.


Anonymous said...

Having reigned for 60+ years and and had 12 different Prime Ministers our Queen might well be able to step into No 10 and have a good idea what she would need to do to run the country. She meets the PM for a weekly audience where matters of political concern are discussed and sees a dispatch box of papers daily concerning the running of the country. She seems to much more 'hands on' than the present occupier of the White House whose behaviour has been viewed with much consternation. I am firmly of the opinion that a Constitutional Monarchy has much to commend it!

Horace Staccato said...

xObamaCare is the most disgusting, destructive, dishonest con job ever foisted on the U.S. The goal of ObamaCare is to destroy the private health care system utterly, and replace it with a government-run system that will be a disaster; a system that will have complete contempt for the patients while serving as a patronage system for affirmative-action scum.

Obama is a liar, cheat, thief and affirmative action parasite himself, and his health care bill has nothing AT ALL to do with health care. It is a cynical, evil power and money grab; a typical Leftist crime that must be overturned.

ObamaCare must be stopped right now, by the most drastic, draconian measures.

Leftists are, typically, idiots to say that partisanship should cease. That is a typical Leftist euphemism for surrender to the evil of the Left.

Now is the time when open, hostile partisanship should become our refuge from a traitorous Democratic Party as well as the cowardly Republican leadership. Open hostility is entirely appropriate when contemplating an administration and a Senate that are literally the enemies of their own country.

Now is the time when decent Americans need to draw the line at their dispossession by an alliance of Leftist liars and traitors and affirmative-action parasites.

SHUT THE GOVERNMENT DOWN OR DEFUND OBAMACARE FOR GOOD. At least a shut-down government can't continue its project to destroy its own country.

Of course while all this is going on the traitorous Republican leadership is trying to slip amnesty for millions of illegal third-world savages under our noses. They are also keen on the evil idea of importing millions more legally and it doesn't matter a whit HOW third-world savages are entering the country. All that matters is that they ARE and that WE NEED TO REVERSE THIS HOSTILE INVASION THAT IS BEING FACILITATED BY THE COWARDS AND TRAITORS IN GOVERNMENT.

And don't forget that that RINO Cruz is front and center for amnesty and increased immigration. Cruz is our enemy. He is not our friend regardless of what happens with ObamaCare.

Anonymous said...

This is another of your stellar pieces, Daniel, and I imagine it was accomplished without a single assistant. ~ arasina ~

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I only have my 90 Federal servants on loan from O. No assistants though.

Michael Deloatch said...

Daniel, I keep coming back to your blog because you are a very insightful truth sayer. I can't say I always agree with your views on everything, but you always express cogently and earnestly. I hope you continue to favor us many years with your writings.

mrs adela bradley said...

Rather than the Government Shut-Down, I've started calling it the Government Shut-Up.

2sloe said...

Dear Daniel,
received a letter from my [private purchase] health insurance company: effective Jan 1st, they will no longer provide health coverage.
My policy was a high premium, high deductible PPO that I'd been with for many many years.
People in other states have been notified of the same thing, by different companies. I can't find any media coverage of this, and I searched the internet for it.
This is a gigantic hardship. We are not quite old enough for senior medicaid.
Where can we buy coverage when insurance companies are DISCONTINUING HEALTH CARE POLICIES?
It seems we will be FORCED into Obamacare.
This is frightening.
Please, can you and your blog network friends bring some attention to what is already happening?

Thank you for your work.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I got a similar letter. It's sometimes temporary as adjustments are made. Are they not offering the policy anymore period?

2sloe said...

Horace Staccato said...
" xObamaCare is the most disgusting, destructive, dishonest con job ever foisted on the U.S. The goal of ObamaCare is to destroy the private health care system utterly, and replace it with a government-run system that will be a disaster; a system that will have complete contempt for the patients while serving as a patronage system for affirmative-action scum.

Obama is a liar, cheat, thief and affirmative action parasite himself, and his health care bill has nothing AT ALL to do with health care...."

quoted for TRUTH, which I already knew. but I have already been made a casualty of the obamacare plan. Robbed of my health insurance.
What's next.... I'll be fined for not having coverage???

2sloe said...

it's not temporary, according to our letter. I'll have to go down to my husbands' office tomorrow if you want an actual quote.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

In some cases this is happening with workplace policies for bureaucratic reasons, but is temporary. I don't know your exact situation and insurance is complex and esoteric. I spent days helping an older family member and it was unreasonably confusing.

Anonymous said...

"I have already been made a casualty of the obamacare plan. Robbed of my health insurance.
What's next.... I'll be fined for not having coverage???"

Short answer, yes.

2sloe said...

mine was not a workplace policy, not part of a group, just a private, individually purchased one. my husband is old enough to be on senior medicare, I'm not. The same thing with a friend under private coverage in another state and with different company.
My point being: private insurance companies are already dropping healthcare coverage, in anticipation of obamaUNcare.

Zenster said...

There are more directors, associate directors and deputy associate directors on Michelle Obama’s staff than there were in George Washington’s entire administration.

The saddest part is that they probably really do need them.

What if the entire government remained shut down for months ... and nobody noticed?

Bruce said...

"received a letter from my [private purchase] health insurance company: effective Jan 1st, they will no longer provide health coverage"


Or have you and millions of others entered into a "UNILATERAL gentleman's agreement"?

And, is it REALLY, officially called "Obamacare"?

If so, then that very act of hubris should have brought down deafening calls for recall or impeachment.

Start dragging the covers off the tumbrels.

Anonymous said...

What is even worse is who is administering the program. Chambers of Commerce and their not for profit social services wings and ACORN. Basically they are using non-profits to sell what is supposed to be a market for competitive insurance.

You use non-profits when you are doing charities and entitlements where you expect a loss and so there is no expectation of a market. These newly minted administrative organizations need no specific organizational abilities or experience.

The people they hire need even less. The jobs only specify multi-lingual. We are basically setting up graft. Orgs will be in a position to always write the most expensive insurance because they have a captive population rather than acting as real fiduciaries. If the system wanted competent people it would use the already existing and experienced L&H ins professionals who are now locked out of the system We already have people going to jail for this kind of graft but they should be freed. They aren't thieves. They are pioneers.

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