The under-serving of America

<![CDATA[ / Comment & analysis / Columnists – Jurek Martin: Cronies, phonies and lightweights:

Wherever you look in the Bush administration, from the external and internal departments through a host of regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the National Parks Service, men and women with ideological agendas have replaced those who tried to make the trains run on time, and sometimes did.

I will concede that there is a real debate in this country over whether government can do anything right – and maybe Wal-Mart could have run relief efforts better than Fema. At the ideological level, it pits people like me who actually believe in government, warts and all, given proper scrutiny, against those who think it should mostly be privatised or neutered.It is the ultimate irony that the Bush administration, which definitely falls in the second camp, has presided over the largest expansion of government since the 1930s, and not merely in the areas of defence and homeland security. But that is another saga.

It now looks like an illusion, too, that the mission of some government agencies was ever non-political. The National Parks Service, guardian and curator of so many magnificent facilities, is being politicised and commercialised to the nth degree. Rangers are up in arms, even as the off-road vehicle lobby celebrates.I am not saying that Republican use of appointments (including cronyism, a bipartisan practice) is any different in kind from Democrats when they held power. But, under Dick Cheney’s guidance, they have gone about it for ideological ends more methodically and ruthlessly than ever did Democrats, who tend just to like government for government’s sake.

Those are some of the choice bits of an FT column by Jurek Martin that echo some of my recent concerns about the cronyism in the Bush Administration. That the neoconservatives, so-called enemies of arbitrary government power who want to drown the federal bureaucracy are the ones conducting this systematic abuse of the public trust isn’t just ironic, it’s deeply infuriating.]]>