Saturday, October 10, 2015

#283 / Liberty And Bureaucracy

Land Office Photo, Oklahoma, 1900. 
In an article titled "Hail To The Pencil Pusher," published in Boston Review, Mike Konzcal argues that the "administrative state" does not represent the antithesis of liberty, but is an example of political freedom. 

I think the article is worth reading, and that it makes a good point. My own view is that our "laws," and "regulations," as the product of political debate and discussion, do, in fact, represent democracy in action. 

However, this positive view of the laws and regulations that so extensively control and condition our lives is valid only to the extent that ordinary men and women are involved personally in the politics that end up in the enactment of these governing laws and regulations. 

Query how much that is actually true, nowadays. 

Image Credit:


  1. It's awkward spiral. As public political activity increasingly focuses on personality politics leading to periodic elections, the public is increasingly disenfranchised from the process of government. Elected officials and government employees are increasingly acting in response to paid lobbyists and their own personal predilections, rather than the preferences and desires of the public.

    The result is that laws and regulations are passed and enforced decreasingly reflect the common good, and increasingly respond to corporate and business interests. This only exacerbates public disenfranchisement, further reducing public participation in government.

    As open and eager as Santa Cruz County government is for public input, the dearth of pubic participation in County government is astonishing and disheartening. A dozen people in the audience of a Supervisors meeting on any one topic is considered a large turnout. Even the ease of email submission of letters to Supervisors and online availability of agendas and and agenda packets does little to boost public participation.

    Democracy is conducted by those who show up, not at the polls but at committee, commission, supervisors and council members meetings, on the phone, sitting across a conference table, over the backyard fence, on street corners, in coffee shops and the local.

    Democracy is a living process that is slowly dying of malnutrition.


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