Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bee-bar-kay

Contrary to what I've been emphasizing, a lot of my time on this trip has been spent in the Liberty Fund sessions that paid my way out here to Big Sky. Each day, we've had three hour-and-a-half sessions. The sessions are devoted to discussing a particular reading or set of readings on the general topic of bureaucracy, democracy, and judicial review--from Tocqueville all the way to contemporary administrative law.

As you might imagine, with such varied terrain, the discussions range far and wide. With so many professors around the table, the key is design rules that enable the conversation to have some semblance of order. After all, we are not used to sharing the stage with anyone!

So what we do is point a finger up if we want to make a significant point. If we want to say something more focused in reaction to what is currently being discussed, we point one finger down. All of this takes place in a cabin named B-K, affectionately known as "Bee-bar-kay."

The punch line in all of this is that I repeatedly found myself defending the delegation of policymaking authority to bureaucracy. To state it hyperbolically, I tend to view career middle level bureaucrats as the "heroes" of American government today. They are generally hard working and public spirited, although you can certainly find plenty of slackers and those with other motivations. In addition, bureaucrats tend to be responsive to changes in the political winds, which I view as a good thing. Elections should have consequences for what happens inside government agencies, within limits of course.

Anyways, did we figure out how to protect and enhance liberty in today's administrative state? Of course not, but we had fun trying...

~Steve

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