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Guest column: The bigger the govt., the harder to manage
by Melvyn L. Fein
Guest Columnist
May 29, 2014 10:36 AM | 5852 views | 1 1 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Melvyn L. Fein
Melvyn L. Fein
Years ago, President Ronald Reagan warned us that oversized government was a serious problem. The evidence he was correct keeps pouring in. The VA scandal is just the latest example of how organizational gigantism can injure people.

Liberal Democrats, with Barack Obama in the lead, keep telling us they must protect us from ourselves. They assure us their programs are intended to promote social justice and rational planning. Be this in energy or health, they argue that they know best.

Then something like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs cover-up of incompetent scheduling comes to light and we learn — as we should have known all along — bloated bureaucracies have a way of getting things wrong. Especially when part of the government, and therefore not subject to marketplace discipline, they often go rogue.

At moments such as this, the president’s apologists explain the executive structure is simply too large for anyone to administer effectively. The president is, after all, just one man, and he can’t be everywhere. Nor can he know everything; hence, he must depend upon his subordinates.

But who are his subordinates? Jack Kennedy depended upon advisors regarded as “the best and the brightest.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, of course, had his “brain trust.” And what does Obama have? A kiddy corps! And a crony corps!

Let us start with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. They are not part of his administration, but they have been delegated essential tasks, such as writing the stimulus legislation and designing ObamaCare. Thus, in many ways, they are as responsible as anyone for the recent additions to the Washington mess.

Question: Does anyone trust Harry or Nancy? Does anyone regard them as mental giants? Who believes they are incorruptible public servants who deserve to be in charge of setting our communal agenda?

Remember, Nancy told us that we had to pass the ObamaCare legislation in order to find out what was in it. This was not only an example of abdicating legislative responsibility, but of engaging in a crapshoot with the health of the nation. Some leadership here!

As for Harry, when he is not accusing the Koch brothers of global warming or asserting Mitt Romney did not pay his taxes, he is seeking a constitutional amendment to overturn the Bill of Rights or staging an attack on Senate procedure via the nuclear option. More brilliant leadership!

What about the executive branch itself? Does anyone believe Jay Carney is an honest and penetrating analyst of administrative policy? Or is he more like Art Carney; that is, a sideman in a comedy routine? Reporters are tolerant of his badinage, but does he really deserve to be the voice of the United States?

And what about those other voices, such as the spokespersons for the State Department? Jen Psaki obviously has the experience and gravitas to represent our country to the rest of the world. And how about Obama’s advisors? Tommy Veitor was a wonderful example of their maturity with his, “Dude, it was, like, two years ago,” explanation of the Benghazi cover-up. He gave us confidence the nation is in good hands.

As for the political advice Obama gets, which frequently seems decisive, David Plouffe and Daniel Pfieffer constantly impress with their deep thinking. They may have the president’s interests at heart, but do they have the nation’s? This list could be extended indefinitely, but it gives an idea of what can happen when the management of an already bloated government is delegated to a band of incompetents.

When a gang of venal ideologues, supplemented by juvenile ciphers, takes charge, we get the mess we are currently enduring. This puts the lie to the entire liberal agenda, which asserts centralizing decisions in Washington promotes rationality. The truth is the opposite. The larger the government gets, the more unmanageable it becomes — a problem exacerbated when those who naively think they know best take the helm.

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University. He can be reached at

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