You pay the mortgage, we live in the palace…
Friends, for the past couple weeks I’ve been out in the lonely salt flats and rocky wastes of the great Mojave searching for new zinc veins; so now I belatedly bring you the final installment of Professor J.H Habermeyer’s entertaining essay on the means and methods local government deploys to do what it wants, to get what it desires, and to abuse those who oppose it. Here is the Seventh and final wall.
The Seventh Wall
We have reviewed the myriad ways that local governments obfuscate what they do and then defend their actions against the very citizenry that has placed its faith in the charming swindle known as participatory democracy. The process is one of systematically winnowing out ever smaller numbers of remaining opposition through all sorts of clever tactics that include preying upon citizen apathy, bamboozling the public with unfathomable pseudo-technical jargon, delaying, temporizing, and even legal hair splitting that would make any Philadelphia lawyer proud.
Finally we come to the seventh and final wall that the bureaucracies of local government have erected about themselves and that provides the ultimate protection of the citadel, the sanctum sanctorum, the Holy of Holies. This final palisade is constituted of the legal and practical insulation in which the government functionaries have enveloped themselves.
It is well-known that government employees are cocooned in the protections afforded the “civil service.” This insulation provides great protection and engenders great arrogance. While politicians are theoretically answerable to the public, public employees, practically, answer to nobody. Practice and law provides effective shields to these denizens of the citadel.
The police structure can be counted upon to cover up, obscure, and ultimately exonerate instances of corruption and physical brutalization of perpetrators and innocent, alike. How? Because sham investigations are performed by other police like “Internal Affairs” and the local District Attorney – fellow members of the law enforcement fraternity who use each other symbiotically.
Likewise the urban renewal bureaucrats and land planners who devise titanic fiascoes affecting the lives and livelihoods of hundreds if not thousands of people are protected from public wrath and disapprobation. Their mantra is to look forward not backward; that hindsight is eagle-eyed; that lessons learned will provide a guide for the future; and most comically, that their projects would have worked but for lack of adequate funding. The vehicle known as local government has no rear view mirror, and no matter how rickety the contraption is, its operators will never cast a backwards glance. Thus the great open air civic center mausoleums and dysfunctional ghetto-creating human warehouse projects that should have worked in theory but that failed in practice dot the urban landscape while the perpetrators thereof suffer no rebuke for their manifest failures. In fact they are apt to give each other self-congratulatory awards and accolades!
Layer upon layer of onerous regulations will be promulgated by compliant politicians and then used, and abused, by the bureaucracy with an autocratic arrogance against which the citizenry has little effective recourse; for the guardians of the citadel cannot be held accountable.
In the last analysis, the agents of local authority take their decisions with impunity. They have invested nothing in the expensive mistakes that will cost the taxpayers plenty. There being no practical difference for the bureaucracy between success and failure, we may be sure that strategies based on arbitrary whims, and not sound financial or economic judgment will be propounded. The consequent failures and municipal catastrophes will result in no opprobrium, let alone fiscal detriment, falling upon the decision makers.
Inside the seventh wall the air is rarefied, indeed. Those securely ensconced within its sacred precincts look down upon those outside the citadel with the resigned noblesse and disdain of the mandarin. They are from the government and they are here to help.
And no, you may not come in.
<< Wall #6 – The Long Arm of the Law