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Friday, May 22

Governmentarians and the rising protests against juggernaut governments

Yesterday, while I was mucking around at Dan Riehl's site looking for the link to his mention of a Pundita post on swine flu, I stumbled across this Riehl gem:
[...] It seems to me [Lindsey Graham's] from another wing of the GOP, the one currently controlling the GOP in DC: Governmentarians.

They sometimes masquerade as Conservatives and sometimes Libertarians, but they're for Big Government whenever it means good press, or a boost for their personal political career. Scratch an alleged Right-leaning moderate and you get a Governmentarian every time. [...]
Governmentarian! That is exactly the word I've sought for many years! By gum that's how so many on the Right have gotten away with being socialists while wrapping themselves in the language of capitalists! They're not Marxists, they're, they're -- Governmentarians! Hah!

Dan's observations make a good introduction to Newt Gingrich's op-ed today for The Washington Post, which is ominously titled A Rising Anti-Government Tide. Somehow I don't think Newt is the best person to consult if one is truly bent on breaking free of Governmentarian rule, but I grudgingly concede he keeps his ear to the ground:
A Rising Anti-Government Tide

By Newt Gingrich
The Washington Post
Friday, May 22, 2009

Americans should look carefully at the anti-politician, anti-government mood exhibited in California this week. Just as Proposition 13 and the anti-tax movement of 1978 were the forerunners of the Reagan presidential victory, so the results of Tuesday's vote are a harbinger of things to come.

The repudiation of the California establishment in the series of initiative defeats could hardly have been more decisive. Five taxing and spending measures were rejected by 62.6 to 66.4 percent of the voters. That is a consistent majority of enormous potential. An even larger majority, 73.9 percent, approved the proposition limiting elected officials' salaries when there is a deficit.
This vote is the second great signal that the American people are getting fed up with corrupt politicians, arrogant bureaucrats, greedy interests and incompetent, destructive government.

The elites ridiculed or ignored the first harbinger of rebellion, the recent tea parties. While it will be harder to ignore this massive anti-tax, anti-spending vote, they will attempt to do just that.

Voters in our largest state spoke unambiguously, but politicians and lobbyists in Sacramento are ignoring or rejecting the voters' will, just as they are in Albany and Trenton. The states with huge government machines have basically moved beyond the control of the people. They have become castles of corruption, favoritism and wastefulness. These state governments are run by lobbyists for the various unions through bureaucracies seeking to impose the values of a militant left. Elections have become so rigged by big money and clever incumbents that the process of self-government is threatened.

Sacramento politicians will now reject the voters' call for lower taxes and less spending and embrace the union-lobbyist-bureaucrat machine that is running California into the ground, crippling its economy and cheating residents. This model of high-tax, big-spending inefficiency has already driven thousands of successful Californians out of the state (taking with them an estimated $11 billion in annual tax revenue). The exodus will continue.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a smart, tough, charismatic leader who has been forced to submit to policies he knows are ruining California on behalf of interests he knows are cheating the state. His failure to tame the union-lobbyist-bureaucrat machine that owns the legislature is a symptom of just how powerful it is.

Albany is even more corrupt and dysfunctional. The special interests that own the legislators in both parties have been exploiting New York for two generations. They have impoverished the Upstate region to the point where it is a vast zone of no jobs and no opportunities. Their predatory tax and bureaucratic union behavior is beginning to cripple New York City. More and more successful New Yorkers are leaving the state. In the face of multiple crises, Gov. David Paterson has shown himself incapable of carrying out reform.

In other words, the political machines in California and New York are wrecking the states' economies and driving out successful residents. But the machines don't care because all they want to do is own the wreckage.

This system of ruining communities on behalf of interest groups first appeared in Detroit. Bad government, bad politicians and bad policies drove a city that had, in 1950, the highest per capita income of any large American city to No. 62 in per capita income as of 2007. The population has declined from 1.8 million to fewer than 950,000. Recently, 1,800 homes were sold for under $10,000 each. The human cost of bad politics and bad government in Detroit is staggering.

Now President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid want to impose on the nation this style of politics in which interest groups, politicians and bureaucracies dominate. Look at their record: a $787 billion stimulus no elected official had read, 8,000 earmarks, an Environmental Protection Agency plan to control the economy through carbon regulations, the government threatening retaliation against those who would protect their property rights against theft in the Chrysler bailout -- again and again, this team is moving toward a government that owns the country rather than a government that is owned by the people.

Watch Sacramento politicians and interest groups work to overrule the people of California. Watch Albany politicians and interest groups continue to undermine the economy of New York. Watch the arrogance of the elites in Washington as they impose their costs and special deals on the American people.

Then look again at the 62 percent-plus majority in California in favor of smaller government and lower taxes.

In the great tradition of political movements rising against arrogant, corrupt elites, there will soon be a party of people rooting out the party of government. This party may be Republican; it may be Democratic; in some states it may be a third party. The politicians have been warned.

There is an intersection of "governmentarians" and the failure of public schools to close to prevent the burgeoning cases of H1N1 influenza. Your posts of the past week or two coalesce, if you know where to look.

Public schools receive federal money, based on days teaching. They budget some snow days, which are not paid. If there are too many snow days, the budget is in trouble for the year.

So closing schools to prevent flu spread means walking the tight rope between parental law suits for the death of the students and the budget shortfall from closing for a week to stop the spread of H1N1 influenza.

This is governmentarian action at the local level. Note, this is put into place by Congress, which is the home of governmentarian action. Congress has made the public schools dependent of federal dollars and now the schools have financial troubles if they do the right thing and close early or some extra days. It cost one NYC assistant principal his life. It will probably cost others their lives.

It comes down to upgrading computers and buying library books versus the imprecise possibility of dying from H1N1 influenza. The first is easily documented, the dying is "only" a possibility. Governmentarians prefer to err on the side of the known, rather the unknown. This concept is covered in Bureaucracy 401, an upper level course.
Back behind the Iron Curtain, we called them by the Russian term apparatchiki. They were Party members, of course, because otherwise they would not have gotten into any position of authority; but mainly they were permanent denizens and slavish servants of the establishment - the larger the better. They would move mountains and happily destroy oodles of people to ensure that their "power latifundias" remained safe and gradually increased in size. It was these governmentarians, in all imaginable walks of life (and some unimaginable) that gave the system such awful stability for such along time.

It ain't always the ideology...
I wish I could be as positive about the California initiative balloting as Newt.

The problem was turnout - it was so low that a higher turnout could swamp the small government voters who voted this time. Look at the numbers Obama got to the polls in November (59% total turnout) with the participation on the intiatives of 26%.

The conclusion is that only conservatives and public employee union people voted this time. That many voters AGAIN voted in the last presidential election and they voted liberal.

Still, we can enjoy our victories when we can get them.
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