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The Dawn of Big Government and the Administrative State

Unmasking the Administrative State: The Crisis of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century, John Marini, Encounter Books, 337 pages [1]

John Marini, who writes for the Claremont Review of Books and is a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, has devoted his newest book to the origins and growth of the American administrative state. Marini recognizes that he is dealing with a critical turning point in American government. To his credit, he refuses to examine it nonchalantly, as the natural development of a benevolent state that exists as an indispensable answer to our needs. According to Marini, rule by unelected administrators who are empowered to intervene in a wide range of human relations, to regulate the behavior of citizens and to enforce their own values, was not part of our original political design. It represents a dramatic departure from what our federal union was intended to be, and a deviant model that may already be beyond our control.

As someone who wrote a book on a related subject, I was eager to learn how Marini treated the growth of centralized public administration in the United States. It may be appropriate to divide his analysis into two sections—one that shows how our administrative behemoth has eaten into social, cultural, and commercial activities; and another that focuses on the ideological preconditions for that development. His book in my view addresses the first better than the second.

Marini begins by examining the role of the federal government in helping to topple the Nixon administration, a topic that he’s treated before. He argues compellingly that by “the time of Nixon’s reelection in 1972, he posed the greatest danger to the authority of the bureaucracy and the administrative state.” Unlike Reagan, who also awakened the deep state’s “political animosity” but who managed to appear jovial, Nixon went after them with undisguised loathing. He stressed in his second inaugural address his intention to “diffuse” political power among various levels of government. His downfall, at least partly caused by his impetuous behavior, signaled to office-holders the danger of messing with powerful foes. Now Trump has broken with that unwritten rule and incurred the wrath of our unelected government and its far-ranging allies in the media, public education, and Hollywood. Anyone who threatens what Marini calls the “new despotism” posed by centralized administration runs the risk of being destroyed by it.


Marini is correct that the Progressives played a gigantic role in justifying and building an American administrative state. But he may go too far in indulging his own grievance about Progressives being racists, anti-immigrationists, and social Darwinists—which is largely beside the point in any case. What made the Progressives a significant historical force was not that they held conventional views for their times. It was that, as Marini certainly knows, they identified popular government with public administration and a “science of government.” And contrary to what the GOP media tell us, self-described Progressives belonged to and influenced both national parties.

Seemingly unaware of this, the author devotes an entire chapter to a questionable divide between FDR’s political legacy and that of Ronald Reagan. Whereas FDR favored an administrative regime “that would guarantee social and economic security for all,” Reagan, as Marini put it elsewhere [2]“succeeded in mobilizing a powerful sentiment over the excesses of big government. In doing so, he revived the debate over the importance of limited government for a free society. And his theme would remain constant throughout his presidency.” But did Reagan’s rhetoric about “limited government” mean that he set out to reverse FDR’s reforms? Guess again! Marini’s model president mostly took for granted a vast administrative apparatus that he inherited from his predecessor. And this welfare state intruded into our daily lives to a far greater extent than the government bequeathed to posterity by the New Deal.

The Social Security program begun by FDR continued to grow under Reagan, expanding 15 percent during his eight years in office. Despite initial efforts to apply strict means tests to welfare recipients, the Reagan administration increased welfare costs by 25 percent between 1981 and 1987. There is, of course, nothing wrong with recognizing that both national parties have inherited a swollen administrative state and that it’s been hard to cut back without alienating large numbers of voters and an entrenched bureaucracy. But let’s not pretend that Reagan was a bold anti-New Deal revolutionary when the evidence for this hardly exists. A point that Marini might have mentioned is that in the early 1980s, most Western countries slowed the expansion of their social services, an expansion that had been going on since the 1960s. In the United States, this slowdown began during the latter half of Jimmy Carter’s presidency and continued at a brisker pace in 1981 and 1982.

Marini’s learned account of how we arrived at our present government, one that “administers” rather than deliberates, as the Founding Fathers hoped our federal legislature would do, reveals wide-ranging erudition. But he might have spared us his practice of repeating all the talking points of his colleagues at the Claremont Institute. Supposedly no one, including many defenders of Abraham Lincoln, understood as well as Harry Jaffa and Jaffa’s students the natural rights basis of the American regime and indeed all decent governments. Lincoln fought the Civil War to realize the Claremont Institute’s vision of American government, while rejecting alternative understandings of who we are as a nation.

Marini maintains that in Hegel’s philosophy, individual rights vanish into the “rational will of the state.” In the book’s introduction, Ken Masugi lets us know (lest we miss the point) that the author is carrying forward the philosophical tradition of Jaffa, “who took account of the radical assaults on constitutional government demanded by Rousseau and above all, Hegel.” Pace Marini and Jaffa, Hegel’s main political work, Philosophy of Right, defends the force of individual contracts and the inviolable existence of civil society. Hegel’s vindication of historical rights and the “ethical state” does not come at the expense of property or family rights. Marini’s fellow Straussian (although not of the West Coast persuasion) Steven B. Smith makes this argument quite cogently in Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism: Rights in Context.

Marini also quotes Progressive theorists who tell us that rights are the products of particular historical traditions. It is strongly suggested that these commentators were morally or intellectually defective. With few exceptions, however, they were telling us what is obvious about the evolution of political rights. According to Marini, “contemporary ideology and politics become intelligible only with reference to a philosophy of history, which originated in the political thought of Kant and Hegel.” As someone who has written on both German philosophy and the administrative state, I am truly puzzled by this statement. Am I supposed to think that German philosophers, who failed to adopt Marini’s view of natural rights, brought about our runaway public administration? Some Progressives like John Dewey read Hegel (and also Kant) but did so selectively in order to confirm what they already believed about “democratic administration.”

Marini gets one point perfectly right, and it is his main one. He cites German political theorist Carl Schmitt about “the crisis of German parliamentary government” in order to buttress his key point, that legislatures have been forced into doing what they were not meant to do. For Schmitt, this fact illustrated the ultimate weakness of the interwar German experiment in parliamentary government. What was intended to be a deliberative body, namely the Reichstag, was, according to Schmitt, pushed into performing a different function because of an often indecisive executive. (Schmitt was famously arguing for a presidential dictatorship to save the German republic from its enemies.)

In the American case, as Marini points out, Congress in its present incarnation oversees administration and makes business deals by leveraging its influence with the public bureaucracy. Rather than serving as a deliberative body, it has become a deal-making one. The rise to power of the modern administrative state under technical congressional oversight has led to this undesirable arrangement. Let me repeat: Marini is dead on in his analysis of “legislative bureaucratic supremacy.” He is correct when he argues that our main problem at the federal level is not the abandonment of power by Congress. The real problem is that we are being technically “administered” by congressional agencies that run roughshod over our historic liberties. Even more alarming is that there may be no way out of this situation. 

Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents [3].

25 Comments (Open | Close)

25 Comments To "The Dawn of Big Government and the Administrative State"

#1 Comment By prodigalson On March 13, 2019 @ 9:22 am

I’m so tired of old guard conservatives pushing this tired “limited government” ideology to the exclusion of everything else.

Hey old dudes, i’m more afraid of my kid being near-slave labor in an Amazon warehouse than I’m going to be told how to run my life by NASA. Likewise, Google and the other silicon valley tech lords are busy building an Orwellian surveillance state while they get high freebasing old copies of atlas shrugged, and you want me to worry that the FDA is infringing on my liberties. Myopia much? Wake up!

If you’re so worried about big government, then maybe the old-guard conservatives should have pushed back on our empire building during the Reagan, Bush, and younger Bush admins instead of cheering it on. If you build a global empire, you also build a large bureaucratic infrastructure to support it, that infrastructure eventually becomes entrenched and becomes a praetorian guard. We’ve known Rome’s history and glide slope for oh, several thousand years, so it’s not like this should be a surprising development to you.

I know Grover Norquist sheds a mighty tear every time a new govt civilian is hired, but have you been paying attention to life in America AT ALL the last forty years?

#2 Comment By Dan Green On March 13, 2019 @ 9:46 am

Good analysis . At this juncture, all we voters have for the most part concluded is, something is radically wrong with our form of government . Personally I continue to rely on our constitution , and the Supreme court, meaning many of us have lost confidence in the swamp, called the government . Americans for the most part, have always feared, so called big government, it is basic to our formation of the country and our culture.

#3 Comment By JohnT On March 13, 2019 @ 10:43 am

“Congress in its present incarnation oversees administration and makes business deals by leveraging its influence with the public bureaucracy. Rather than serving as a deliberative body, it has become a deal-making one. The rise to power of the modern administrative state under technical congressional oversight has led to this undesirable arrangement.”
Sweet Lord! Is it possible to state the obvious in a more obsequious manner? The leaders of corporate America, when not dining and giggling at Mari Logos of the world, are busy identify the most thoroughly corrupt “legal” firm to place on on their team to assist them in identifying the easiest path to avoiding regulation, taxes and in-house investigations. That task demands access to sufficiently corrupt officials in our government. I am unaware of any elected, American government official whose salary begins to approach that of the aforementioned American business leaders. When capitalism is your religion the wealthiest person in the room is the Pope for the moment. See how this works?
BTW, professor, how many of these business leaders aim “donations” at the institutions of higher learning that pay your salary?

#4 Comment By Ed On March 13, 2019 @ 11:05 am

He argues compellingly that by “the time of Nixon’s reelection in 1972, he posed the greatest danger to the authority of the bureaucracy and the administrative state.”

Nixon didn’t like LBJ’s bureaucracy, but he had little problem with FDR’s. He’d even been a part of Roosevelt’s wartime price administration bureaucracy. Yes, Nixon tried to impound funds for some of the Democrats’ favorite agencies, but he added new agencies like the EPA and OSHA. He considered a guaranteed national income and even froze wages and prices. I seemed to recall a bitter fight between Nixon and the Legal Services Corporation, but when I looked it up, I found out that his administration actually created the LSC shortly before he left office.

No president is going to dismantle the administrative state, however much reform and restructuring is needed. Most of those agencies were created for practical reasons and to deal with real problems, and abolishing many agencies would simply leave those problems in place or make them return in threatening ways.

In a sense, Peter Viereck was right. A Burkean conservative (if that is something one actually wants to be) wouldn’t try to dismantle the post-New Deal administrative state, but would accept it as part of a developing tradition. Where Viereck may have gone wrong was that conservatives shouldn’t cheer on that process of bureaucratization and centralization and move it further along (if I recall correctly, Viereck did say that conservatives should “prune” the regulatory/welfare state, but it was clear that his heart wasn’t in it).

One could recognize the need for some regulatory and social insurance agencies, and even propose needed ones, without calling FDR some kind of conservative and regarding his increasing federal power as a conservative tradition. Conservatives would be of more value if they questioned and tried to restrain the increase in federal power, removing the parts that didn’t work but not trying to return to some older way of doing — or not doing — things.

#5 Comment By Jim C On March 13, 2019 @ 11:41 am

I’m new to this site. This author wrote a book with Richard Spencer. Is Richard Spencer “mainstream” or at least an acceptable voice for the readership here?

#6 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On March 13, 2019 @ 11:43 am

I’m so tired of old guard conservatives pushing this tired “limited government” ideology to the exclusion of everything else. (prodigalson)

Am confused by this. What do you mean by “everything else”? Are you saying that you approve of government by people who were never chosen by you as a voter?

#7 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On March 13, 2019 @ 11:55 am

“He is correct when he argues that our main problem at the federal level is not the abandonment of power by Congress. The real problem is that we are being technically “administered” by congressional agencies that run roughshod over our historic liberties.”

Not quite. The creation of multiple bureaucracies (“congressional agencies”) and investing them with power and authority never contemplated by The Founders IS in fact the “abandonment of power by Congress.” The former is the symptom, the latter is the disease. And we aren’t even talking here about war-making authority, long-since ceded by Congress (as Legislative branch) to the Executive branch.

Dr. Gottfried is correct, however, when he writes that we may be stuck in a rut at this point–as he writes “with no way out.”

#8 Comment By Kouros On March 13, 2019 @ 12:02 pm

The modern state has been invented over 2,000 years ago by the Chinese. Egyptians and Sumerians were mostly busy counting bushels of grain.

But Francis Fukuyama captures much better the situation in his two volumes dedicated to political order and political decay. US is definitely in the decaying phase.

I considered the situation myself and put it to the limit: election through sortition (stratify random samples with replacement from the body of eligible citizens) and getting away with parties and lobbying, propaganda, etc. and offering complete rejuvenation every 2, 4, 6 years what have you.

The issue is how you deal with entrenched bureaucracy?! Hiring based on merit, upholding standards of conduct and ethics holds no power when facing with corruptible officials, with agendas spanning more than an electoral cycle. Maybe executives of big agencies should face in fact the voters, like sheriffs and judges?

Humanity has faced these problems for a long time and getting bogged down in philosophical debates is counter productive, when one needs to revisit how in past times administrative-operational work was run in the world and see what in fact might work and what not.

As for merit, the only Chinese empress that ever was, overhauled the mandarinate system and made the examination more serious (merit based). She’s the most demonized ruler in the history of China! Think about that!

It is an ever elusive goal to have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” and there is no serious work done towards that goal, we being allowed a very narrow Overtone window in this area!

#9 Comment By KD On March 13, 2019 @ 12:21 pm

It seems strange to me, given the level of specialization, the amount of technical knowledge available, and the degree of expertise in various technical fields, the 18th Century Jeffersonian legislator, with all the major works of Western Civilization on his book shelf, simply couldn’t possibly live long enough to have fluency with the various forms of technical knowledge to begin to understand many public policy issues.

We can cry about the administrative state, but it is hard to imagine how you could run a modern economy with an 18th Century state.

I see a practical problem in a conservative longing for a pre-New Deal constitutional arrangement, but I am not sure as a practical model you could have a non-administrative state with a modern economy.

Are there any international examples of this arrangement in the real world? I am not aware of any, but perhaps someone is.

Burnham predicted the rise of the administrative state, and while he was out of his dialectical materialism stage at that time, there seems to be a clear relationship between modern forms of economic production and distribution and the rise of the administrative state (whether “liberal democratic” or otherwise).

Samuel Francis was perhaps right, the issue is not the existence of the administrative state, but rather insuring it is “our” administrative state.

#10 Comment By KD On March 13, 2019 @ 12:33 pm

I haven’t read the book reviewed, but it strikes that a lot of the social transformation leading to the modern administrative state was triggered by the mobilization and need for central coordination in fighting the first world war, and certainly WWII only consolidated the administrative apparatus.

WWI also had a big impact on mass politics and the self-perception of the masses, a large portion of whom served directly in the military, and a larger portion of whom supported the war economy and endured miserable domestic life during the war.

I raise this issue because the First World War had little to do with Progressives or Conservatives (although America’s participation had something to do with it), and it is hard to imagine, even if the U.S. sat out WWI that many of the changes in Europe wouldn’t have found their way across the Atlantic.

#11 Comment By One Guy On March 13, 2019 @ 2:24 pm

Didn’t you get the memo? Republicans no longer pretend to care about big government, overspending, or the exploding National Debt. They care about sucking up to Trump for the votes of the 30%.

#12 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 13, 2019 @ 2:43 pm

There is a fundamental legal principle that needs to be applied more often and more firmly, especially by the courts:

An administrative agency may not substitute its own policy for the of the legislature.

I found it in a case about land use policy, and applied it to a challenge to parole policy, but it has almost universal application, and can help put the administrative agencies in their place.

#13 Comment By bgone On March 13, 2019 @ 2:54 pm

The quick test: any mention of “defense”, “Pentagon”, or military-industrial “complex”? Any reference to the National Security State and its profiteers?



#14 Comment By John D. Hanft On March 13, 2019 @ 3:27 pm

So, it’s been noticed that we live in a divided society governed by an elected hostile and exploitative dictatorial elite. We continue to perpetuate racial feuds and cannot reverse numerous social pathologies.
And someone is surprised that the “administrative state” has filled the leadership vacuum.

#15 Comment By John Hanft On March 13, 2019 @ 3:56 pm

The “administrative state” merely fills the vacuum created by our divided society ruled by an elected hostile and exploitative dictatorial elite who seem to prefer special interests and racial feuding to reversing social pathologies.
We get what we vote for.

#16 Comment By Hitch On March 13, 2019 @ 4:50 pm

Stop legal bribery.Repeal Citizens United for Corp. hegemony.Publicly financed elections only.Truman said those in government to get rich are criminals.Vote them out.Many want to serve but can not raise the money.Our republican party is now a wholly owned subsidiary but that would change.The people want it,the elites do not.The Trump experience is waking us up.

#17 Comment By Mccormick47 On March 13, 2019 @ 8:40 pm

Believe it or not, the citizens actually want a qualified engineer to tell them when a bridge is about to fall in, an epidemiologist to work at protecting their kids from disease, others to attend to problems not foreseen by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Your comments on This incensed Social Security expenditures are largely meaningless, as you’re giving us no indication why the expenditure rose. About big jump in aging population? A jump in inflation. This is a right wing screed day sguisedasa book review.

#18 Comment By Liam On March 14, 2019 @ 9:25 am

Big Business Begat Big Gummint.

The nature of corporations changed during and after the Civil War. What used to be entities chartered individually by state legislatures for limited purposes, limited terms and scope, and with no ability to include the value of intangible assets like “good will” in assets available for distribution to shareholders in exchange for limited liability privileges, became something that scaled to the level of private governments. The thing is, our latter-day neo-Cameralist wannabe overlords are also keenly aware that customers and workers are also voters (though the overlords dearly wish to reverse that tide of franchise) – that when private governments try to insulate themselves from popular accountability in one way, they will be held accountable in another way.

There is no going back on the governmental side unless and until one reverts on the private side. They go together, hand in hand.

Because humans.

#19 Comment By quizil donor On March 14, 2019 @ 12:03 pm

“Reagan … revived the debate over the importance of limited govt for a free society”

Although symbolic, Reagan is most notable as the first President in the history of the US who carries a national debt in excess of 1 Trillion dollars. 1 Trillion becomes 2.8 Trillion by the end of the Reagan presidency. It never comes back to earth from that point on.. This debt is targeted to benefit connected elites, who transfer the costs onto the general public through asset inflation and dollar deflation crushing wage earners, who are largely excluded from the crafting of legislative policy. Deifying Reagan as a limited govt scion is nonsensical on its face. What becomes standardized under Reagan is actually accomplished by saying one thing and doing another, while utilizing media to sell a pre-packaged ideology that appeals to generally popular concepts while doing something quite different behind the scenes. While Reagan was clearly one of the most likeable and personally popular Presidents, outcomes have to be assessed by the standard of fiscal effectiveness which is a prerequisite for ”small government” to exist in the first place, not promotional materials or the sales pitch used to attain elected office. Profligate Federal spending and ”small govt” are unable to coexist, except in the realm of propaganda.

“Lincoln fought the Civil War to realize the Claremont Institutes vision of who we are a a nation.”

I realize that this is the tongue in cheek assessment of the reviewer, however I think – given that the topic is small govt – we are actually passing over the reality that a nation state with centralized govt on the scale of the US has never been compatible with ‘small govt’ in service to its own populace. Lincolns’ Civil war is a complete vindication of Robert Yates’ early warning at the convention that a confederation of independent colonies cannot be forced under a central govt without centralizing the power of self-determination out of the hands of its population. Robert Yates’ convention notes are second in detail only to Madison and Hamilton, for a specific reason – he is fully aware that only a alert populous can prevent a descent into tyranny.

Any discussion of the Civil War or its causes begins with the Tariff of Abominations, which follows on the coattails of the Whiskey rebellion. As Robert Yates warned 50 years earlier, the goals, incomes and self-interest of the regional economies cannot be combined into a central govt or subject to a supreme court, without seeking to suppress, subordinate and eventually war against one another. The Civil War split begins in malevolence as the manufacturing sector of the North seeks to prohibit manufactures from Europe by enacting Tariffs that penalizes the interests of the Agricultural South, who subsist from exports.

I have a old copy of the War of Northern Aggression, which in its addendum reprints the the Confederate Constitution. To even a casual observer, the most notable aspect is how little the Confederate Constitution differs in text or layout from the US Constitution. The major differences I note are the clauses that constitutionally ban all Tariffs on goods entering into the Confederate nation, the slavery provision, and the prevention of Govt funds being used to construct any INTERIOR public works within the South.

The ban on Tariffs levied on imports is in direct response to the Northern congressional voting block that had rigged the system to the financial gain of their own regional economic interests to the complete detriment of non-manufacturing regions who want access to European imports, and seek to export their goods without counter Tariffs. The clause preventing interior road-building or improvements are the will of large land owners who controlled the debates, and don’t have any more concern for the general common good than they do for their slaves, as long as the ports are open and their estates are reaping profits. The eventual fight on slave states, at the legislative level, is largely a concern that Southern Agriculture based states will expand and by way of representative expansion, overtake the Northern Manufacturing states’ legislative block, and turn the tables by punishing the regional Northern interests who had long since waged a economic war on them. Rich men seeking to move the pawns to serve their own manufacturing / tariff interests is a hard sell, so the outcry of liberty or anti-slavery rhetoric is cynically substituted as a sort of proto -WMD sales pitch for war when its time to invade, and send someone else’s son to die.

Without a small govt in which Elites are constrained by one man / one vote, and money influence is banned, you end up with competing interests selling their own cliques plots for self-enrichment against the best interests of basically everyone else.

#20 Comment By prodigalson On March 14, 2019 @ 1:51 pm

Connecticut farmer says: “Am confused by this. What do you mean by “everything else”? Are you saying that you approve of government by people who were never chosen by you as a voter?”

I’m saying conservatives bought into the Grover Norquist mantra of “shrink govt enough to drown it in a bathtub.” and spent close to 40 years trying to do exactly that, all while simultaneously cheering on the tender mercies of the “free” market” to self-correct our nation.

They were correct in identifying govt as a wolf at the door, but incorrect in not realizing that unfettered capitalism is an even greater threat to our liberties than unaccountable govt.

We live in an imperfect world and nature abhors a vacuum, so something will fill that same role of govt irrespective of what we call it. What’s currently waiting in the wings is corporate control and domination, rule via google, amazon, facebook, walmart, etc. Their tender mercies are cruel. As someone who’s worked both in the private sector and in govt the difference was shocking. I never once met the “deep state one world govt” govt employee stereotype trying to davos us all, though i’m sure some exist, but that’s more the elites in *some* of the agencies in DC. In the private sector, the only concern was revenue to the exclusion of ethics, morality, christian principles, etc. This was the norm across the board, it’s part and parcel of the system. Just as we see in the fruits of Google, who famously are so ruthless that the motto of “don’t be evil” was too high a bar to live up to.

TL;DR version: Conservatives should have spent the last 40 years trying to govern wisely, not burn down the government itself. In doing so, they’ve given power to instutitions far worse, and far less accountable than the govt. (Jeff Bezos does not care what you think, and you don’t get to unelect him. His billions mean he’s above the law, and he can hire people to do whatever he wants with you if you annoy him. By comparison, even senior govt employees can and do get fired, and can and will be turned in for unethical behaviour.)

The game plan is for all of us to be some version of the amazon warehouse worker or the gig working LYFT driver living in his car. Pass. That’s why this single minded focus on the “evil big gubmint” is myopic at best or disingenous at worst.

#21 Comment By CLW On March 14, 2019 @ 2:14 pm

This is just more dogma from the “all government is bad” crowd.

The “administrative state” is necessary for dealing with the complexities of maintaining a modern nation state, and is perfectly capable of doing so in an effective and responsible manner. However, this is often compromised by the ineffective oversight and outright meddling of Congress and unqualified political appointees, intellectually limited but ideologically pure people who don’t have any idea what they’re are doing. The examples are too numerous to list, but perhaps the best recent example is Trump’s naming Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA.

#22 Comment By joe o’mahony On March 14, 2019 @ 3:30 pm

Being we are unwilling to pay for all the government we are getting how long can it be sustained?

#23 Comment By JonF On March 14, 2019 @ 3:54 pm

Welfare and Social Security basically just write checks. That doesn’t require a huge bureaucracy. If you’re looking for bloated bureaucracies look to areas of government that are involved with micromanagement and regulation. And of course the military and security apparatus. That’s where you’ll find the true Derp Statem

#24 Comment By gor On March 15, 2019 @ 11:34 am

Corporate governance.

The introduction of Admiralty/maritime law into the court system to the exclusion of Art. III courts and common law brought in by the BAR association to steal the wealth of Americans who are completely clueless about what those forms of law are.

Hint: US citizen=US person=commercial fictitious legal entity =slave.

The (13th) amendment didn’t abolish slavery, it just made it voluntary.

#25 Comment By MM On March 15, 2019 @ 5:00 pm

JonF: “Welfare and Social Security basically just write checks. That doesn’t require a huge bureaucracy.”

I’d love see a bit more bureaucracy in those areas. Perhaps it would reduce the obscene level of improper payments that go out, and are never recovered.

In the private sector, that sort of thing is called auditing and administration. Well worth the cost, incidentally.