Fire Furloughed Feds?

In a remarkable op-ed for The Daily Caller, an anonymous “senior Trump administration official” blows the lid off the Deep State in the most sensible of ways: he talks about the good the government shutdown can do for the federal government’s efficiency, and how President Trump can use a prolonged shutdown to drain the swamp effectively.

The explosive piece argues that roughly 15% of workers in Washington, D.C.’s sprawling bureaucracy are committed patriots who want to fulfill the president’s agenda (after all, that is their job). 80% are unmotivated to do anything, because it’s virtually impossible to fire them.

The remaining 5% are Marxian change agents (my description) that are actively involved in the Resistance and are seeking to undermine Trump’s agenda with bureaucratic rigmarole. These are the folks that believe it is they, not the American people, who know best how to manage and direct our lives. Trump represents an existential threat to these sleeper agents for Cultural Marxism and technocratic elitism.

Apparently, an extended government shutdown empowers agency heads and the president to remove non-essential personnel far more easily—they can simply be fired like anyone else, instead of having recourse to a lengthy appeals process that can take years.

Perhaps the most absurd and chilling part of this op-ed is when the writer discusses the mindless fealty to “process,” which fuels agency growth—the bureaucracy exists to expand the bureaucracy:

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands — administering, refining, following and collaborating on process. “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves. Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores.

Process is what we serve, process keeps us safe, process is our core value. It takes a lot of people to maintain the process. Process provides jobs. In fact, there are process experts and certified process managers who protect the process. Then there are the 5 percent with moxie (career managers). At any given time they can change, clarify or add to the process — even to distort or block policy counsel for the president.

I can’t help but think that many of these federal gigs are just overpriced ways to give excessively-credentialed but essentially useless workers something to do to keep them busy for forty years. No doubt there are plenty of good, hardworking civil servants in the federal government, but they would seem to constitute the minority. The incentives clearly favor inertia and lack of initiative over real drive and pluck. Indeed, there seem to be strong disincentives against making any changes.

As I wrote recently about education, one of the biggest problems any institution can face is excessive bureaucratization. Yes, as an organization grows, administrative oversight and the establishment of procedures—the dreaded “process”—must grow alongside it.

I’ve experienced this necessity first-hand working in a small private school that ballooned from just shy of 100 students eight years ago to about 285 now. That’s still a small school compared to large public high schools and middle schools, and we still get a lot done through what we might call “informal” procedures and custom, but we’ve increasingly had to adopt more standardized procedures to complete certain duties more efficiently.

But there’s streamlining, and then there’s needless obfuscation. Of course, the byzantine structure of the administrative state is designed to protect its beneficiaries and to expand its size and scope. The more arcane and confusing its procedures, the more folks must be hired to tend to the holy cow of process.

Let’s hope President Trump is listening to whoever this official is, and takes an ax to the loafers and traitors that make up 85% of our federal workforce, then let the Freedom Fifteen Make America Great Again!

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