Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Central Support of the Moldbug Cathedral: The Civil Service Bureaucracy

Frequently well-intended semi-reactionary politicians win the fight in the polls and in the majority opinion, but fail to achieve any actual victory.  Part of this is the resistance of the Judiciary, which we've discussed at length in earlier posts, acting essentially as a diode blocking reactionary current while permitting current in the 'progressive' direction.  Most reactionaries and conservatives are aware to some degree of this dynamic.  Victory will eventually require the destruction or short-circuiting of this diode.

But most are not aware that the civil service bureaucracy is an even more central support of the Cathedral.  It is probably its oldest and most powerful edifice.  Politicians struggle against it largely in vain, and it deliberately leaks embarassing things when it feels itself under attack, things which are invariably blamed on the attacker.  When budgets are cut---and in the newspeak, simply reducing the projected rate of increase is deemed a 'cut'---it ensures that the most near and dear things to the public suffer the ax first.  It is a bit of a Gordion Knot problem, since the existence of a heavily entrenched civil service prevents any semblance of accountable governance or meaningful movement of the US in non-progressive directions.

However, it so happens I've got a sword to offer you for this turbulent knot.  Here it is:

Return to the Spoils System...the bad old days solution where offices were used to buy votes and key supporters---wait a minute?  You say that sort of stuff still goes on today, to an even greater extent?  Amazing how the civil service acts, intended to act as a brake on governmental corruption simply made said corruption more subtle but vastly more pervasive.

To do this you'd have to repeal all of the civil service acts, and make every single employee of the federal government fire at will---by which I mean they could be fired for ANY reason, and mass firings would be the expected norm when a new administration took power.  They would have to enjoy not even the protections that people in the private workplace enjoy regarding 'cause' or discrimination.

From a practical standpoint, to get there from here you might need to do a bit of counterintelligence work---deliberately manufacture totally inflammatory cases where a handpicked person is totally unsympathetic to the population at large but they can't be fired because of the letter of the civil service law. 

Now some say that the spoils system is far more democratic than the existing civil service system.  That's true, but that's not the reason why I support it.  I support it because the existing system is totally in the hands of the enemy and therefore needs to be destroyed or subverted.  This is the way in which that can be accomplished.  Selling this to the population will require a fair bit of propaganda, probably invoking the fact that the civil service system prevents any actual accountability and is profoundly undemocratic.  Weakening the bureaucracy through budget and staff cuts is probably also necessary as battlefield preparation.  Fortunately the economic and budgetary conditions give us good tailwinds in that endeavor.


Aretae said...

I've been watching this a while. If that's the goal...then Cain is the choice for president. Well, or Gary Johnson...

Those are the only 2 likely to repeal the Carter Era executive order allowing unionization of federal employees. And 3 years later, by sole prerogative of the president, he could fire as many as he likes. Gary Johnson is up there with snowballs in hell, though. So...best path right now to what you're talking about is Cain.

Gabe Ruth said...

I assume a Paul presidency is understood to be a snowball in Hell as well. But Cain? Where else is he planning on getting the experts that will guide him in his proud ignorance but the Beltway?

Anyway, I would add term limits for congress-critters as a requirement for any return to sanity that is not dictated to us by events. There is zero chance for improvement with our current system of government as long as our law makers' top priority is re-election.

Jehu said...

Aretae, Gabe
The best we could hope for from any of the realistic presidential hopefuls is battlespace preparation---i.e. the repeal of allowing public sector unionization that you describe. But to break the power of the permanent bureaucracy you need to go a lot further back than the 70s. It'd be a great first step though.
On term limits, I see that as actually counterproductive as long as a permanent bureaucracy is in place. It would increase the relative power of the media and the bureaucracy relative to the elected officeholders. Since we have more influence over group 3 than 1 or 2, it seems a bad bargain.

Alrenous said...

I figured out how the bureaucracy works on my bike run the other day.

Since the pols know they'll be voted out of office eventually, while they're in office they create permanent jobs for their drinking buddies. Their drinking buddies then hire them when they get voted out. And all go out for a drink to celebrate.

This implies the same conclusion you reached. So, independent corroboration. To democratically stop the bureaucracy you'd have to make it illegal for elected officials to enact permanent posts, and to roll back most of the existing permanent posts.

"a handpicked person is totally unsympathetic to the population at large but they can't be fired because of the letter of the civil service law."

They saw that one coming. You'll find that, for some reason, firing conservative bureaucrats is actually easy. They'll use the same procedure if they recognize counter-intel.

Because of reasons like this, I think it's more strategically sound to find a way to defeat the bureaucracy without using democratic methods.

B322 said...

My own dreamed-of compromise would be to allow civil servants to be fired for insubordination (i.e. at will), but not allow the the administration to pick anyone in particular to replace them. Also, to do away with the Rule of Three. Hiring would be on a purely meritocratic basis, preferably by anonymously-scored examination.

People fired for insubordination would be barred from taking a new examination for a year. Thus all the civil servants would have incentive to play nice, particularly the ones with barely-passing test scores, while the new administration would only be able to expect intelligent, pliable people for its new below-Assistant-Secretary team, rather than partisan loyalists of indifferent abilities.

Atop them would be the usual political appointees. 50% of their salary for their first year in office would be payable to them only if they remained in their first appointed position (or a similar appointed Federal executive position) for a minimum of 24 months.

Just a dream, of course, due to the reason mentioned in the OP and by Alrenous and everyone else. I think the non-democratic method by which the Federal government will be defeated will be insolvency. Time rather than politics will defeat the US government.

Fortunately we have other governments, with recognized borders and balanced budgets. Question is, will permanently defederalized National Guards keep out aggressive creditors trying to collect on a given state's share of the national debt? I think the states will live on, hopefully with a mutual defense organization like NATO and maybe some anti-pollution treaties.