[This is the transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 28 December 2016.]
Fifty-five years ago President Eisenhower warned America about the military-industrial complex which he saw had an “unwarranted influence” on our polity. In the years following, this notion became a rallying cry for our liberals. But since then the bogeyman has not lived up to its expectations when we look at some key numbers. In 1961 we spent 9.1% of GDP on defense and had almost 2.5 million men and women in uniform out of a population of 184 million. Today those numbers have shrunk to 3.2% of GDP and less than 1.4 million in uniform, now out of a population of 320 million. In spite of the Left’s ongoing warnings, it doesn’t look like the military-industrial complex has been very successful at threatening our way of life.
Georgetown University professor Jeff Bergner points out (here) that today “there is, however, another interlocking public-private collaboration that is at once more insidious, more powerful, and more straightforwardly partisan: the liberal ideological complex.” This is the real swamp that President-elect Donald Trump must drain in order to make the difference that 68% of Americans seek who see our government as having already headed in the wrong direction. Winston Churchill observed over 70 years ago that governments are made up of “vast bureaucracies of civil servants, no longer servants, and no longer civil.” The last 25 years of our federal government has put paid to that astute observation.
Bergner argues that “we do not always see this collaboration so clearly, because we tend to view each aspect of it as unique and not part of a larger picture. We look, for example, at public sector unions as a labor issue. We look at funding for Planned Parenthood through the lens of abortion policy. We look at EPA regulations and grants in terms of global warming and job destruction. And so on and so forth, down to the smallest, most narrowly tailored grant awards of the federal government.”
We overlook that this complex implements the very essence of liberal ideology wherein its policies are carried out by a growing cohort of elite technocrats who know better what the people need, and in their heights of hubris, what the people really want. Their work is funded by the federal government and implemented by groups employing like-minded leaders and staffs. They wholeheartedly “contribute money, time, and services to the politicians who favor this use of federal funds”, thereby creating “a vicious circle in which campaign funds are indirectly skimmed off the top of taxpayer-funded organizations, all in the service of liberal ideology.”
Some of these same non-governmental organizations operate locally in our midst, implementing at the grass roots level the liberal policies developed in the federal bureaucracies. But the real damage begins with the so-called public servants and their federal employee unions that were opposed in the 1930s by the likes of FDR and George Meany, and finally authorized by JFK’s 1961 executive order. Since then these unions have become so institutionalized in law that the taxpayer now pays the union bosses’ and lawyers’ fees as these negotiate with the government to further drain the taxpayers’ wallets.
Bergner argues compellingly that, to really drain the swamp, President Trump should eliminate the federal employee unions altogether, or at a minimum “terminate taxpayer funding for federal union representation work”. For the recently arrived in the United States it should be pointed out that these unions overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates, who in turn guarantee that they will work for laws that continue to fund the growth of bureaucracies and the large federal unions.
It is hard for me to believe that President Trump will be able to rid the federal government of such an insidious and powerful cancer that has successfully metastasized throughout our body politic. Given his enormous agenda, the best that we can hope for is that he at least cleans out the surface scum, which may then expose what is hidden underneath and rally the electorate to support likeminded politicians. Short of that, this swamp will not drain; it will instead grow and continue to stifle the productive segments and energies of our fertile land.
My name is Rebane, and I also expand on this and related themes on Rebane’s Ruminations where the transcript of this commentary is posted with relevant links, and where such issues are debated extensively. However my views are not necessarily shared by KVMR. I thank you for listening, and wish all KVMR listeners a prosperous and healthy 2017.