Who makes the rules these days?

“Don’t run with scissors in your hand!”

“Don’t drive your car on the sidewalk!”

“Do not steal your neighbor’s property!”

“Get a permit to fix your roof!”

“Get a license to fix lawnmowers!”

“Cut your grass!”

Who makes those laws?

The prerogative powers once exercised by a ruling monarchy have been reinvented and lodged in administrative agencies.

Please, don’t feel bad. Because you didn’t actually give them that much power. They just took it.

How many times a day does someone tell you what to do? How often do you have to stop yourself from doing what you want, because you know that this action is prohibited or wrong?

Right here in our local community, it seems like we have laws, rules, and regulations to oversee just about everything.

Who gets to make those rules? Where do they come from? What happens when we break them?

Watching the ongoing clown show in city hall, county court house and local school board, we can be forgiven for asking ourselves why did we give this bunch of clowns so very much power over our community and our lives?

Over the past few weeks we read about a local school board laying off staff in order to hire other staff; we read about a county employee who said the county had to raise fees because it couldn’t afford to pay her wages and benefits; we were told that a county health board did not have to ask the county commission for approval to hand out free needles to drug addicts.

How did a system designed to provide government of, by, and for the people devolve into a system in which bureaucrats unaccountable to voters produce masses of law that was never voted on?

Today, the laws that actually affect people and businesses are seldom written by elected officials; instead they are created by administrative agencies through a process of informal rulemaking, a process whose chief virtue is that it’s easy for the rulers to engage in, and hard for the ruled to observe or influence.

Administrative agencies, effectively unaccountable to voters and even, it seems, to the elected officials, pursue their own priorities to a much greater extent than they recognize anyone else’s.

As the number of voters became larger, more diverse, and less elite, those who considered themselves the best and brightest transformed our local government into something run not by those deplorable unwashed voters but by a more congenial group.

They moved legislative functions out of elected officials hands and into administrative agencies to be exercised, in more genteel ways, by persons like themselves.

In essence, a power grab by the knowledge class: A group of intellectuals who, although they may not actually be especially knowledgeable or elite in practice, regard themselves as the knowledge elite, expanding administrative agency powers, and diminishing the importance of elected leadership.

A major threat to our communities and our civil liberties.

Bureaucracy is so baffling that it can be funny, until of course it isn’t.

Robert Ware

Elkins

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