Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rhetoric vs. Reality

In this article from, Obama calls for patience as he acknowledges "Change doesn't happen overnight." Like all presidents, it seems that Obama is realizing the job is much more than talk and much more difficult than expected.

Obama promised many things to the American people on his road to the White House. He gained office with a clear mandate from the people and tried to get his programs rolling. However, he met with difficulties to cultivate the change he had promised. His "honeymoon period" seemed much shorter than it may have been for other presidents and many may begin to fear he is not coming through with his promises as quickly as he said five short months ago in November. Obama is facing the cold world of politics from a whole new light, from the top, and may not be doing as well as was expected of his charasmatic self. He has (according to the article) already very politically shifted his stances on many issues and deadlines. It turns out the role of the presidency is not as easy or straightforward as Obama's Campaign for Change (We Can Believe In) Campaign seemed to believe as he swept into the White House. It will definitely be interesting to see how he does in the coming months and see how true to his word he is able to stick.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

more money

It's all about money now-a-days. And according to the government, it's all about giving people money that we don't really have through plans that are being called "imperfect" by the very person signing such plans into law. Yes, there probably ought to be something done about the economy, but we have time. Market forces can drive the economy while the government works out the imperfections so obvious in many of these bills Obama has been so quickly signing into law. This last bill for $410 billion he said himself contained many earmarks that he's been trying to cut back (I believe "curb" was his word). Personally I am weary about all this spending not because of the pork, but because it doesn't seem to be doing anything. I sort of feel like we need to wait and see. We need to see what these bills do before simply passing more spending bills, that are, by nature generally imperfect. Psychologically people have an adverse reaction to spending, so spending in general is often imperfect. Therefore, it ought to be thought about more. The government should strive to make its spending bills as perfect as possible instead of simply signing them into law. Anyway, in my rather illterate way of explaining myself, that's what I think and I'm willing to wait and see what happens. Maybe the governments should do the same.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bureaucracy 2

Essay #1:

The bureaucracy is entrenched in rules and regulations. Many of those rules and regulations are created by the president or Congress in an attempt to control the bureaucracy, but others go against that purpose and end up making it very difficult to reform or control the bureaucracy.

The President of the United States is often said to be one of the most powerful people in the world and, indeed, that may be true. Along with everything else, he has the power to control, or at least attempt to control, many aspects of the federal bureaucracy in one of the world’s most powerful nations. He has most of the power over who gets what jobs in the bureaucracy because, although the senate has to approve most cabinet and bureaucratic appointments, who is appointed is first and foremost the president’s decision. Therefore, most major bureaucratic positions can be effectively “controlled” by the presidency. The president can also control the bureaucracy by issuing executive orders. Such orders can be very influential in determining policies of many bureaucratic agencies. Also, the president can attempt to reorganize the bureaucracy, as was done with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, and he has some say over the budgets of many bureaucratic agencies through his influence at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Congress’ role in controlling the bureaucracy is more of a role of overseeing the bureaucracy. Congress can influence the appointment of agency heads by approving presidential appointments and influencing the president on who to appoint. In essence, Congress “oversees” the appointment process, but does not get to choose the appointees themselves. Since Congress is constitutionally in control of the nation’s purse, its largest role concerning controlling the bureaucracy is adjusting its budget. Congress can further oversee and control the bureaucracy by holding hearings on bureaucratic dealings to ensure they are in accordance with standards and the desires of the nation. Finally, Congress can write or rewrite legislation to clarify the roles of bureaucratic agencies and control the details of their dealings.

The control that Congress and the president have over the bureaucracy helps aid America’s system of checks and balances, but it is by no means absolute or easy. All of the legislation and rules already surrounding the bureaucracy tend to make further action difficult. For instance, there are many rules making it very difficult to fire any members of the bureaucracy. Therefore, if a president appoints someone whom they later disapprove of, it is very difficult to remedy the situation. Reforming the bureaucracy can be even more difficult because reform means there was something wrong in the first place and no one likes to admit being wrong. Therefore, large scale reformation of the bureaucracy as seen in 2002 is very rare and needs wide scale support from all areas of the government. In 2002, the reorganization that created the Department of Homeland Security was facilitated by the crisis of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In general, there may be many avenues for the president and Congress to control the bureaucracy, but that doesn’t mean that such control comes easily.

Bureaucracy 1

Essay #2:

The four basic types of bureaucracy in the federal government today are cabinet departments, government corporations, independent regulatory agencies, and independent executive agencies. The departments, such as the Department of the Interior, are large bureaucratic agencies each headed by a member of the cabinet, such as the Secretary of the Interior or, for the Department of Justice, the attorney general. There are fifteen departments in the bureaucracy today and each heads a large section of the bureaucracy with many agencies within it and governed by it.

Government corporations are very similar to private corporations. They provide a service to the private sector and charge for that service. Government corporations include the United States Postal Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The service that those corporations (and all government corporations) provide could be handled by the private sector, but, for one reason or the other, the government has decided to provide instead.
Independent regulatory agencies do just what their name suggests – they regulate. They regulate the activities of most sectors of society and often the actions of many other agencies. Such agencies include the SEC, which oversees Wall Street and the FRB, which regulates the Federal Reserve. The independent regulatory agency the FCC regulates forms of communication such as TV and radio broadcasting. Other agencies, such as the FDA, regulate the food that goes to grocery stores for people to eat. Regulation is an important role of the bureaucracy and, as can be seen by those few examples, independent regulatory agencies affect nearly every aspect of one’s life.

The final type of bureaucracy, independent executive agencies, is basically a catch all for the types of bureaucracy that don’t fit nicely into one of the three types already described. Independent executive agencies are not very numerous and generally cover such areas as research and infrastructure needs. The GSA, NSF, and NASA are all independent executive agencies which are pretty well known. The GSA has been said to be like the government’s landlord for its dealings in the government’s infrastructure and the NSF and NASA are both highly focused on scientific research. Those job descriptions don’t fit any of the other three types of bureaucracy; therefore, such agencies definitely count as independent executive agencies.

Overall, the bureaucracy is a rather large part of the government. The four types of bureaucracy together make up what people consider “bureaucracy” as a whole, but it is not that simple. Departments, government corporations, independent regulatory agencies, and independent executive agencies each have their own tasks to perform and they perform them rather separately, as well as often better than people give them credit.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I'm calling for a look into retrograde motion in politics to make the size of government smaller, not bigger. I don't like the idea that the government is just going to keep expanding until all sectors of life are run by government agencies. I don't like the idea that the government will start not only helping fund college educations, but also auto loans. I don't like the idea that the size of government will increase until it is much larger than the private sector. I don't like the idea that the government is simply going to pump more money into the economy with several stimulus plans until they think something works because simply money won't make the economy recover. People need to believe in the economy again. People need to believe that things are improving. People need the government to decide to do something (or nothing) and be secure in that decision. This passing legislation and then deciding it's not good enough is not helping. It is increasing insecurity, which will never help the economy. I am afraid that the government is simply going to spend more money until Obama's far-reaching goal of cutting the deficit in half in the next four years not only seems unlikely, but is impossible. I am afraid that the government is simply going to pump money into ... - wherever it's going - until they see immediate results, which will take some time. The economy is not going to recover immediately. Economic recovery takes time and yes, it takes some waiting. So, I suppose what I am mainly calling for is patience. The economy has ups and downs. Some downs are worse than others, but most people make it out alive and no matter what everything takes time. Therefore, give it time. Government, take a breath. See what the large plan you just passed does and then take some action when you have an idea. Yes, things might not be great, this could be considered a crisis, but no matter what it's not going to be fixed in a day and this nation need not be so fatalistic.

Monday, February 23, 2009

First Big News of Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to the Middle East next week. As a part of her trip, she is going to announce the giving of $900 million dollars to Palestine to help rebuild Gaza. This is an interesting move since the Western World has generally backed Palestine's rival, Israel. However, all authorities say no money will go to the militant group Hamas. In general, the idea of rebuilding Gaza and having US and UN funding help with that goal ought to help the Middle East and Western relations with the region.

I think it is an interesting, but positive move that could help stabalize Gaza and Israel. If Gaza gets settled, then hopefully the turmoil will boil down. Also it is necessary that the region come to be able to function without the militant leaders of Hamas. Giving money to rebuild Gaza that will not go to Hamas ought to help create stability and reduce violence to a degree. Yes, simply rebuilding Gaza will do little to weaken Hamas' role in the area, but doing so without Hamas' input is definitely a step in the right direction, towards peace.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

stimulus plan

The stimulus plan passed. I have to say that 790-ish billion dollars is a lot of money, a lot of money that we don't actually have. Hmm... didn't over spending (by the American people, not the government, granted) get us into this mess in the first place? Well, I don't know whether the plan will do any good or not, but it will be interesting to watch. That's my opinion of politics in general - sometimes it's interesting to watch.