Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

Is Regulatory Reform a Hopeless Cause?


Source: Wikimedia Commons

In short, no, although the reader of Charles Murray’s new book might come away with that conclusion. In By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission (Crown Forum, 2015), Murray paints a dispiriting picture of the modern American state. The U.S. Constitution established a limited federal government within a federal system. The 10th Amendment encapsulates their vision: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Until the Progressive Era, the federal government remained small. A large standing army, a bugbear of the Founders, did not exist before the 20th century.

Now, Murray laments, we have a “leviathan” that spends $3.4 trillion per year, and is huge beyond comprehension. Consider: “As of 2013, three undersecretaries reported to the Office of the Secretary of Energy. Combined, those three undersecretaries ran 29 separate offices… In addition, the heads of 15 other offices report directly to the Office of the Secretary. That’s 44 entities.” One senses that Murray’s head nearly exploded when he clicked on one of the bureaus and found it had five divisions and 37 sub-offices…. (Read more at Brookings Institution’s FixGov)

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