What Do You Know About Pearl Harbor?
Why Would Anyone Attack Rudolph?
Choose your gift
Racial Discrimination in College Admissions
Choose your gift
Who Are the Most Powerful People in America?
If someone suggested to you that Americans should reject representative government and return to the rule of kings, you would laugh.
“This is America,” you would say. “In our revolution, we got rid of monarchy.”
And, of course, you’d be right – but only to a point. Monarchy is making a comeback – though not in the way you think.
Let me explain.
A king is one person. Get rid of him and you might get your freedom back.
But what do you do when the nation has come to be controlled by thousands of little king – almost supreme in their specialized fiefdoms – who have vast power over your life, much as a king might?
Good question, because that’s what we’re up against.
This regime is called the “administrative state.” Its little kings are unelected “bureaucrats,” officially known as “administrators,” “secretaries,” or even “czars.” And, make no mistake, they are very powerful. Their decisions affect us every day. The FDA, the FCC, the SEC, and so on and so on.
Put together almost any three or four random letters and chances are you’ve stumbled on a government agency. These agencies and the people in them shape our lives – often for the worse.
Many farmers in California lost their livelihoods because the Fish and Wildlife Service decided that the delta smelt (a tiny fish) was more important than the farmers’ water supply. That decision may have been right, or it may have been wrong. My point is simply that the decision should have been made by our lawmakers – who are accountable to us at the next election.
Those farmers are among the millions of hard-working people directly hurt by the administrative state.
And many more millions have been indirectly hurt – such as all those discouraged from even starting a business by miles of bureaucratic red tape.
This is not an argument against government regulation per se, but against regulation imposed by bureaucrats rather than by our elected lawmakers whom we can hold accountable at the next election.
Here’s the larger danger: As bureaucracy grows, individual freedom diminishes.
How did we get into this mess? And, more importantly, how do we get out of it?
America’s Founders recognized the problem. They didn’t like being told what to do by people they hadn’t voted for. They built all kinds of protections into the U.S. Constitution, starting with its very first line after the Preamble:
“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
All legislative powers, not some.
This means only Congress can make the nation’s laws. Congress thus cannot divest itself of that power to a bureaucracy. And that’s how America operated for most of its first hundred years.
This changed when many Americans – such as Woodrow Wilson – fell in love with centralized bureaucratic power.
Wilson was a university professor before he moved into politics and eventually became president in 1912. A self-described “progressive reformer,” he was impatient for power.
He wasn’t interested in persuading the American people to come over to his point of view – that would take too long. So instead, he aimed to shift lawmaking power out of Congress and into the hands of a professional class of government workers – in other words, bureaucrats.
Franklin Roosevelt (who served in Wilson’s cabinet) perfected his mentor’s vision when he became president. For him, as for Wilson, there were few problems administrative power couldn’t solve.
FDR’s presidency produced an alphabet soup of new government programs that vastly expanded the administrative state. And since then, it has grown even more dramatically.
Congress still passes laws. But it leaves it to the bureaucracy to fill in the gaps. And these gaps can be enormous.
Consider, for example, the Affordable Care Act of 2009 – what came to be known as “ObamaCare.”
The bill itself was over 2,500 pages, but Congress left much unspecified. So, career government officials – elected by no one – went to work. And by 2013, there were an additional 10,000 pages of regulations
So, how do we rein in these faceless monarchs?
First, Congress should actually do its job and take responsibility for the laws it passes. Don’t hold your breath. But they at least could do this: Congress should end legal immunity for bureaucrats who abuse their power. If they know they can be sued, they’ll be a lot more sober about imposing rules others have to live by.
Second, the courts should do their job. They must follow the law. That means protecting our constitutional freedoms, including our right to representative government. No more bureaucratic rule-making.
And, finally, we have to do our job. We must assert our freedom – in conversation, on the web, and in the courts.
We don’t want to be ruled by a king – or thousands of little kings.
As the Founders would have said, “No regulation without representation.”
I’m Philip Hamburger, professor of law at Columbia Law School and president of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, for Prager University.
Why Does America Spend So Much on Israel?
Why do we spend so much money on Israel?
Over my decades of military service, as the Deputy Commander of United States European Command and now as a security advisor, I’ve often heard people make this complaint.
The truth is we don’t spend enough. We should spend more. And for purely selfish reasons.
Every dollar we spend on Israel is a dollar spent, in effect, in our own defense. As a value proposition, it’s all in America’s favor.
Let me explain, but before I do let me say this:
I can easily defend why America supports Israel on moral grounds alone.
I’ve been there on numerous occasions. It’s a good and decent country. Given the neighborhood it lives in, I find that both remarkable and admirable.
But I will make this argument solely on the basis of America’s security.
Our partnership with Israel is unique.
Unlike most of our current treaty alliances — say with South Korea — our ties with Jerusalem are not premised on American troops serving as tripwires on Israel’s frontlines.
This is because Israel takes care of itself.
America, for good reason, remains wary of any further military engagement in the Middle East. And this only strengthens the case for giving Israel the tools it needs to defend its borders.
Here are three things we can do – again, all in our own self-interest.
First, the United States should front load its financial commitment to Israel.
We have agreed to provide Israel $38 billion in defense assistance over ten years. That’s a big number, but it’s also a great deal – for America.
In addition to giving Israel the financial wherewithal to purchase the weapons it needs, it also benefits the American economy. Under the agreement, Israel must spend these funds on U.S. products. And it’s happy to do so. Without adding a cent to the total, the United States should “front-load” this assistance to reflect the changing strategic situation in the Middle East, specifically the rising danger presented by Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas.
An accelerated timetable would allow Israel to acquire critical capabilities like more F-35 air attack squadrons, more air refueling tankers and more precision munitions. It will need this hardware to defend itself and American interests against these persistent, and growing, threats.
Second, the United States should enhance our alliance with Israel.
It may surprise you to know that the United States does not have a defense treaty with this essential ally – lots of agreements, but no treaty.
Why is this so important? Because it will send a loud strategic signal to Israel’s enemies that if you mess with Israel, you mess with us.
Israel is not going to ask us for troops. But we should be giving them anything else they need – intelligence, weapons technology and other vital information. And we know this is a two-way street. Israel gives a lot in return.
Which leads me to the third point.
The United States and Israel should build on their already close collaboration in research and development. Israel is one of the most high-tech economies in the world. American investors understand this. More venture capital is spent per capita in Israel than in any other country. Nine out of the ten largest companies have R&D facilities there. This is in a country of just 8 million people.
When we sell them military gear, they adapt it to their own special needs. The American military, in turn, benefits from these innovations, especially in the area of desert warfare. Indeed, President Obama’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made this point. “There’s no question that American lives have been saved by Israeli technology.”
There are many cutting-edge projects we can work on together, such as directed-energy weapons. This new form of cannon emits highly-focused energy to neutralize targets. Such weapons will be needed to counter the spread of cheap, deadly and plentiful mortars and drones from Iran and other bad actors.
All this explains why I find it so infuriating to see Americans, especially young Americans, support anti-Israel groups like BDS – Boycott, Divest, Sanction –that want to weaken and destroy Israel. Putting aside the perverse logic of these groups – that we should punish a free and open democracy – it’s self-destructive.
Israel is on the front line of terror.
They, not us, are within missile range of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. To the extent these enemies of freedom are held in check, they are held in check by Israel. And, they ask from us not one US soldier – only for military aid, which they spend on American defense products to help defend American interests.
We should give them that aid without reservation. Sure, it costs us treasure. But it saves us blood. Our blood.
It’s also the right thing to do.
I’m General Chuck Wald, United States Air Force, for Prager University.