What is this Oozing Behemoth?

Dennis Linthicum

What is this Oozing Behemoth?

In my last article I shared from Whittaker Chambers’ autobiography, Witness. Today, I will pick up another observation from Whittaker that I will apply to most government institutions–federal, state, county, regional and municipal. Chambers discovered inconsistencies and discrepancies within the New Deal which puzzled him. He noted that the stated purposes of the policy initiatives did not necessarily match with the final results.

Chambers summarizes the tangled nature of the bureaucracy, 

“It’s coalition of divergent interests, some of them diametrically opposed to the others, its divided counsels, its makeshift strategy, its permanently shifting executive personnel whose sole consistency seemed to be that the more it changed, the more it remained the most incongruously headed hybrid since the hydra.”

Anyone who has attended a "public meeting" knows the truth of his summary. There are always opposing views, some worth hearing, others not. How will the juggernaut be navigated? Who will guide the discussions? Which compromises will be investigated, which ignored?

The seeming contradictions and purposeful inefficiencies create tensions that would hamper any problem-solving exercise but, in a sense, it offers hope. People hope they can make a difference; they chime in to express their policy preferences. People board the bandwagon to have their voices heard or to get a seat at the table.

As Chambers mentions, the organizational dynamic of these bureaucratic shenanigans becomes quite advantageous for the state. The confusing agenda items and internal conflicts allow the   bureaucracy to shield itself from any close scrutiny while always drifting toward the collectivist panacea–socialism.

As a pluralistic society our culture extols the virtue of many pathways and the value of many interpreters with myriads of opinions.

However, if the goal of collective action is known to be compromise, then all parties must willingly accept compromise before coming to the table. By implication, it also means there is no truly correct path, no right or wrong, good or bad. All pathways may or may not get us where we need to go. Consensus decisions get accepted, however, because we have shifted our value system in favor of compromise over correct action.

Yet, how many of us compromise when doing the laundry, changing our motor oil or shaving our under-arms or faces? Do you find yourself arguing for compromise or doing the job correctly?

Do you leave a couple of quarts of dirty oil in the crankcase to avoid being dogmatic about your auto maintenance habits? Do you throw two scoops of detergent into the wash along with two scoops of dirt? Do you shave under one arm, but not the other? Why not? 

Why don’t we approach science, education, math or healthcare with hearty doses of compromise?

Witness Forgotton Man

Although this collectivist mentality has continually surfaced throughout man’s history, in the US it was perfected by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Amity Shlaes, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Forgotten Man, documents that in 1936 Pres. Roosevelt systematically figured out how to establish the modern political constituency.

This was the wedge in the door that has been so meticulously exploited in the identity politics movement. Roosevelt knew that he could promise something to small groups without creating animosity among others. He could strengthen unions in order to get union member votes. He could also appeal to artists, senior citizens or railroad workers by establishing specific offices, programs or bureaucracies to meet the needs of each constituent group.

In fact, Roosevelt’s federal spending, during the peacetime period of 1936, outpaced state and local spending for the first time in US history.  Shlaes notes that the results created, “the Roosevelt landslide of 1936 --but also the modern entitlement trap.”

However, our problem is not entirely an entitlement trap. Our real problem is that the bureaucratic machine has been engineered to live an immortal life. Government service industries live longer than presidential administrations. They live longer than governors, commissioners, supervisors or regional directors.

The leviathan doesn’t require any new ideas or agendas. It only needs more resources–men, women, money and machines. In other words, it needs continual feeding. Like Frankenstein, its agenda was laid out in statute at creation. It knows its job and knows what demands are at its doorstep. The leviathan only needs to stay warm and dry. It accomplishes this by fostering an environment that serves its survival.

The question comes down to us and our individual families. Are we willing to continue to fund and demand government services that don’t live up to their promises? Everyone should be willing to abandon those failed attempts, curtail the spending and focus our efforts in other directions. This would immediately slash the ever-consuming growth of the bureaucratic machine which needlessly absorbs more and more of our lives and resources.

Popular author and political journalist, P. J. O’Rourke, forcefully asks a similar question. He wonders,

“What is this oozing behemoth, this fibrous tumor, this monster of power and expense hatched from the simple human desire for civic order? How did an allegedly free people spawn a vast, rampant cuttlefish of dominion with its tentacles in every orifice of the body politic?”

The progressive-left’s answer comes directly from the progenitor of Marxism, German philosopher G.W. Friedrich Hegel,

“The State is the march of God through the world... The State must be comprehended as an organism... To the complete State belongs, essentially, consciousness and thought. The State knows what it wills... The State...exists for its own sake... The State is the actually existing, realized moral life.”

As the May Primary Election approaches, remember, the future is in our hands. Make your vote count. Vote against bigger government, excessive taxation and outlandish regulations.

Fight for the right things – Vote for Liberty. Remember, if we don't stand for rural Oregon values and common-sense, No one will.

Best Regards,

Senator Dennis Linthicum signature

Dennis Linthicum
Oregon State Senate 28

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-305, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: sen.DennisLinthicum@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/linthicum