Three current news stories appear to reflect deep-seated problems in the federal bureaucracy. The first is State Department employees’ calling critics who argue that the Department has made it too easy to get visas “McCarthyites” and “neo-Nazis.” The second is the finding by Congressional investigators that the CIA has failed to change its guidelines prohibiting the use of persons who have criminal records or past human rights abuses as informants, notwithstanding a specific Congressional directive to do so. The third is the announcement by the Postal Service that it will not participate in the government’s “TIPS” program by passing on information about suspicious activities observed by postal workers. (I have heard this story on the radio but have not yet seen it in print, hence no link.) All three of these agencies have had, for many years, reputations as hotbeds of liberalism. But these stories suggest a level of wackiness that goes well beyond liberalism. The federal bureaucracies appear to be so well-entrenched and insular that they have lost contact with reality. It seems doubtful whether the problem can be solved by this or any other administration, which can appoint a few new people at the top but may be powerless to do anything about the increasingly out-of-touch attitudes of the bureaucracies as a whole. “BureaucRATS” indeed!
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