Deep States, Bureaucrats, and Incumbency

Whether the current idea of a Deep State plotting against the current administration is accurate or not, it has been clear for some period of years that bureaucrats who have been in Federal employ for too long become entrenched and begin working at cross purposes with those of their agency bosses.  The latter, being political appointees, are, at least indirectly, selected by the Federal government’s employer, us citizens.

While we can cure the overt incumbency problem of our politicians by electing others in their stead, the incumbency of bureaucrats, none of them elected, is both generally unseen and harder to correct.

There are, though, a couple of things we can do to correct this.

One is to limit the power of public unions by barring them from collecting “dues” or any other fees from non-members.  After all, rather tautologically, they don’t—can’t—represent anyone other than their members.  Non-members should be free to negotiate their own government employment contracts, and if those contracts happen to look like union contracts, that’s just a happy—or unhappy—side effect of those separate negotiations.  The wage competition also would apply downward pressure on government labor costs, to the benefit of us taxpayers who are the ones paying those wages, anyway.

It’s also important to take the government side out of the labor negotiations; although likely this is just pie in the sky.  Currently unions, when they make political donations, are donating to the politicians nominally negotiating those contracts on behalf of us taxpayers.  One possibility is to have a third-party negotiator represent us rather than those politicians, albeit this is even more pie in the sky.  Then put the union employment contracts up for final approval/rejection by plebiscite in the jurisdiction in which the contract is proposed.

Another measure is to change via legislation the nature of the employment contracts that are allowed.  Civil servant employment contracts should be limited to a five-year period with automatic expiration unless each house of Congress positively renews the contract.  Moreover, those contracts should be renewable only in three-year increments, and each renewal should be justified first by the agency for which the employee works and then by each house of Congress.

Additionally, transfers between agencies, whether permanent or temporary, should not be allowed unless the receiving agency eliminates a job position for each transfer in.  Such transfers should be for the expertise gained, not simply to increase headcount.

Finally, every five years, the public service union of relevance should be recertified, first by secret ballot vote of the union members, and then by roll-call vote in each house of Congress.

Five years is long enough to get useful work out of a new hire, and having to justify the continuation of the employment contract can help to hold down the disruptive power of bureaucrat incumbency by increasing turnover.  Requiring the public service union to recertify also can help to hold down the ability of the union to bloat off us taxpayers.

Yes, that will increase the work load of Congress.  That’s beneficial, too.  Working on this sort of thing will contribute to Congress not working on foolishness.

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