Sunday, February 19, 2017

Taking on the Mandarins

The federal bureaucracy has become dangerously corrupted by politics in a way that the civil service reforms of a century ago were meant to eliminate.

By Jonathan F. Keiler

Bureaucrats benefit complex societies and are necessary to modern industrial states, but also impose costs and perils. Modelling the United States’ civil service in part on the Chinese use of mandarins, 19th-century government reformers hoped to create a highly skilled apolitical professional bureaucracy.

That bureaucracy is now monstrous and tilted dangerously towards one political alignment over another. The American professional bureaucracy’s barely concealed hostility to the Trump administration is but the latest evidence of this. The president has an opportunity to reform the civil service, but such a hazardous undertaking must be done doggedly and deliberately.........Nearly forty years on, much of the federal bureaucracy is a clique of entrenched Democrat apparatchiks, with job protections that make it difficult if not impossible to fire.........More

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