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Opinion polls indicate that most Americans hold a negative view of the federal...

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monkeyhead | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 1, 2010 at 1:11 AM via web

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Opinion polls indicate that most Americans hold a negative view of the federal bureaucracy. Is this view justified?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 1, 2010 at 1:14 AM (Answer #1)

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This is, of course, a matter of opinion that cannot be objectively answered.

My own feeling is that bureaucrats take the blame for things that are really the fault of Congress.

People tend to blame bureaubrats for sticking their noses into too many aspects of life.  When they do so, however, they are only doing so because Congress wrote a law telling them they had the authority to act in this way.

People also say that bureaucrats have too much power to make rules.  Again, this is because of Congress.  Congress writes vague laws and leaves it up to the bureaucrats to fill in the details.  If Congress wanted to, it could write much more specific laws that would not give bureaucrats so much power.

Finally, people say that bureaucrats are inefficient.  This is probably true as all large bureaucracies are inefficient tied up with red tape -- even private bureaucracies are like this.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 1, 2010 at 2:09 AM (Answer #2)

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I think the majority of Americans disapprove of bureaucracy in any institution, so I'm not sure what that poll would really accurately describe about the American people.  Bureaucracy is virtually the same everywhere, it is a large organization of decision making that is notoriously slow and cumbersome, with a track record of red tape and limited accomplishment.

It is also necessary.  Medicare is a very popular national health care system that also is expected to cost us $446 billion in 2010.  How else could we successfully administer health care for all of the nation's senior citizens without a large organization?  The larger the organization, the more complicated the bureaucracy.  While it is certainly frustrating for some people to deal with in their own personal lives, it is also a necessary evil.

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted March 1, 2010 at 2:51 AM (Answer #3)

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The Founders were wise in their concept of government being limited and small, and would be appalled at what exists today.  As noted, Congress has dodged its responsibilities and has created bureaucracies that hold policies with the force of law, but are also unelected and therefore unaccountable for those policies.  These cannot be appealed, without the bureaucratic process of altering Congress.  This investiture of policy by the legislative branch of government to unaccountable agencies short circuits the checks and balances established in the Constitution, and is the primary reason why the federal bureaucracy continues to expand at the people's expense, monetarily and culturally.  Bureaucracies, by their very nature, having no opposing corrective balance, become interested soley in their own existence and become self serving to that end.  They are not necessary evils, they are just evils.

Whenever there is a great human need, there will be humans to respond to it.  This is nothing more than a philosophical rendition of the law of supply and demand.  However, bureaucracies will attempt to show that they are the sole and efficient supplier of goods and services.  This is simply not correct. The "Top Down One Size Fits All" thinking of the federal government eliminates choices and lowers the standard of living, be it health, education, interstate trade, etc. and serves little else but to entrench and justify bureaucratic existence.  These activities are not warranted by the founding documents of the United States; the federal government was to be limited in scope, and accountable through the elected branch, ie, Congress.   Congress has failed.

Big bureaucracies exist for themselves, not for the people they supposedly service. It is the same whether that organization is government, business, or religious.

If half the money that's been spent through Medicare over the last half century were not taken from the working, who are today's elderly, they would have had double the choices regarding their medical treatment and chosen what they saw fit for themselves. Why would anyone want a bureaucrat dictating your healthcare? What system could provide the most choices for health benefits to the most people for the cheapest cost? It's not the government, or any of its bureaucracies.

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