My latest effort at coloring. Photo taken in the evening under a reading lamp. Paper is white, colors are more intense., ADS 10/2015
After a couple of days of catching up with my yard, I finally got back to Political Order and Political Decay, my latest read from Francis Fukuyama. FF writes a splendid history, and the question in my mind is why wasn’t this required reading for any of the classes I took that focused on world history, particularly twentieth century word history? Oh I know, FF was cast as a neocon (disenchanted Liberal) by some reviewers and some open-minded profs aren’t so open-minded. Well, I’ve read a few neocons, and FF is not a right-winger. FF is a dam good historian in the Weberian model.
I wish everyone would read this book, but I doubt many will. The last section describes political decay in the US government. FF offers the example of the Forest Service, which began as a splendid agency and has crashed and burned in recent decades. Literally, much of what the FS is supposed to manage has gone up in flames. Politicians, interest groups, ignorant citizens are to blame of course.
Overpopulation, overbuilding make the problems worse. I don’t know who I despise more, people who build on barrier islands like those off the coast of NC (David’s evil brother) or people who build in old-growth forests around places like Asheville, then expect the federal government to insure their homes. Everyone wants to get away from it all, but there is no getting away from it all anymore. Stupid Dan Snyder (owner of the deadskins) built a home above the George Washington Parkway and illegally chopped down trees. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Donald Trump built a golf course that cleared huge areas in once wooded ravines that have held the land above the Potomac in place since before the Depression.
Competing interests at the top among elected officials have created disturbances below that flow throughout the government agencies. Pick your agency…State Department, IRS, Veterans Administration….the list goes on and on. Dysfunction breeds disjunction. Taking a meat cleaver to agency budgets is not helping anyone get their act together. When Paul Ryan who is an economic whiz, develops a sensible budget, he has it thrown in his face and accused of trying to push old ladies off cliffs. And yet under Obama, Seniors have not had an increase in their SS in three years. This really hurts old ladies.
The government is far too huge and unwieldly and many government officials have lost their way. Too much is spent on failed programs. And the list of failures is endless. Worse than that we have duplicates of duplicates of programs…47 addressing poverty (last count) and poverty is worse than ever.
Powerful people (political appointees and bureaucrats who have survived the system) have vested interests, fiefdoms. The much touted “Reinventing Government” under Clinton was a bust. He was so naïve, the kid from Arkansas couldn’t outwit the wily bureaucrats. I love Ben Carson, but he can’t manage them either. John Kennedy said in 1960 that fighting the bureaucracy was like fighting a feather bed. Maybe John Kasich can, he knows how it works, but I don’t have high hopes.
Okay, I’m going to stop now and color! Happy Sunday!