More Czars than the Romanovs
Senator John McCain (R-AZ – perhaps you’ve heard of him) posted this quip on his Twitter page, “Obama has more czars than the Romanovs — who ruled Russia for 3 centuries. Romanovs 18, cyberczar makes 20.” Like most Americans I dozed off watching apology after apology and did not really realize what is going on with on the Czars until I read this little sarcastic joke. Twenty czars? Why so many?
To answer this question I had to understand the definition of a “czar.” Technically I already knew but I wanted to understand why a president, any president, needed or wanted someone in this position. A “czar” in the classic sense, is an absolute dictator, the term having originally been derived from “Caesar” and used in Russian as “Tsar”. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary provides the American usage which applies in this discussion, “one having great power or authority.” What Merriam-Webster fails to point out is that in American politics the term implies a person in a position of power and authority, who is accountable to no one other than the President. The position enables the President to coordinate and execute his agenda vigorously and without Congressional encumbrances.
The term was first used in the 1940s when, then President Roosevelt appointed a series of federal managers to coordinate the U.S. economy. Apparently the press dubbed the new positions “czars.” Roosevelt’s “czars” were temporary and the idea of a policy czar being more permanent did not come around until Nixon. Every President since Nixon has used Czars to push through some policy or agenda. As mentioned previously, these Czars answer to no one aside from the President. Does this not strike anyone as dangerous?
As I contemplated my thesis today, it occurred to me that criticizing President Obama for something Roosevelt, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II all did would be both hypocritical and overtly partisan. Thus, the need to state that had it not been for the number and types of Czars recently appointed, the entire issue might have been off my radar. Upon the application of critical thinking, the entire concept of a czar unaccountable to Congress or the American people is unconstitutional.
The Presidential Cabinet, (Article Two, Section 2), is accountable not only to the President, but through the confirmation process is also accountable to the American people (assuming Senators listen to their constituents.) Creating a Cabinet position requires Senatorial approval, red tape, and permanence that any President would like to avoid. Besides, the whole idea is to expediently execute policy. However, what makes a czar attractive to a President is the problem with the position – a “Czar” is not accountable to anyone in the Cabinet, the Congress, or the American people.
Examining the titles of the various Czars being appointed gives telling evidence into the President’s agenda as well as their philosophy. For example, Nixon appointed the first Drug Czar as well as an Inflation Czar. In spite of the fact he was negative on the concept he employed these Czars to get what he wanted done. G.W. Bush had his Education Czar and even a “War Czar” (yeah, I know he refused to call him that but he was just that,) to coordinate the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Czars provide a clear picture of what policy an administration is pursuing.
Now let’s look some of the czars in the long list of Obama Czars.
- Drug Czar. Every President since Nixon has had a Drug Czar, the appointment of Gil Kerlikowske was accompanied by the lessening of the position’s importance from previous administrations. Clearly drug enforcement is not a priority and the administration has made no claim that it is.
- God Czar. I must admit when i saw this position I thought it was a joke. President G.W. Bush created this position and Obama has continued it. However, Obama doesn’t seek to use the “God Czar” to help religious organizations but rather to use them for social engineering objectives.
- Border Czar. The objective is to decrease the flow of guns and drugs flowing over the U.S./Mexican border. I didn’t hear any mention of stemming the tide of illegal immigrants that drain our resources and cheapen the hard fought status of legal immigrants.
- Health Czar. The point-person tasked with pressing hard to make sure nationalized health-care happens sooner rather than later.
- Bailout Czars. Government takeovers of big industries is a big job and for this Obama has appointed two gentlemen to manage the task. I find this a very troubling positions since government acquisitions through bailouts are inherently anti-capitalistic and clearly a road-map toward a command economy. If you are inclined to dismiss this as reactionary, think about this, Herb Allison is the former CEO of Fannie Mae. Didn’t Fannie Mae fail and require a huge Bush bailout? I suppose that is why he is an expert on bailouts.
- Car Czar. The auto industry is failing and I thought this Czar was going to pursue policies to prevent that from occuring, instead the government has nationalized GM and is forcing another offshore. My head spins in the understanding how bad this is for the country in the long-term. Also troubling is the history behind the man holding this position. Steve Rattner has a scandalous history that includes allegations of kickbacks.
- Regulatory Czar. The new administration is making clear they intend to control everything in the U.S. economy and the creation of this position with the accompanying power is a bold statement.
- Stimulus Accountability Czar. If only the Czar were accountable.
- Compensation Czar. This is the newest and most troubling of all these new Czars. The new czar, Kenneth Feinberg, will be tasked with limiting the salaries of American corporations which have received bailout money.
It was the creation of this Czar position that rattled my cage today. Like a camera that slowly brings a picture into crisp focus, each new Czar adds clarity and definition of the administration’s aims. The left and the poor ignorant masses look to Obama to save the nation from economic disaster. We all knew Bush could not do it and the press made sure he took full blame for the result of 20 years of trade policies that pushed productive business abroad and encouraged foreign dependence on everything. Now Obama is saving us the only way a liberal college professor knows how, he is bringing socialism and doing so as fast as he can. He knows he only has until 2010 to secure an economic entanglement so severe the election will not be able to alter its course.
Key to the achievement of this objective is health-care. Yes, something needs to change in the American health-care system but socializing it is the wrong answer. But rather than change the topic of this article let me remain on course. The Czar positions have been created to aid in the transformation of the U.S. economy from capitalist to command. A command economy is the term economist politely apply to what we in everyday America call communism. It is economic communism without the associated despotic totalitarian government – at least we hope that is true. Socializing health-care, especially in a hurried manner, places a huge portion of the American economy into the government’s complete and incompetent control.
As though this were not alarming enough, we must consider the long-term implications. Conservatives like to point to long lines and postponed medical procedures that would result, just as they have in the United Kingdom, and yes, that concerns me as well. However, there are scientific, political, and legal issues to consider as well. For example, if health-care becomes nationalized as it is in Europe, what happens to incentive to find cures for health issues?
The profit motive eliminated, we will be forced to rely on government mandated research. How effective might this be when the government knows that any treatment which only prolongs life without providing a cure, will result in sick, needy people continuing to be a drain on government resources. Could we eventually find ourselves having treatments withheld because they delay death?
On the legal front we must consider malpractice litigation. I contend tort is a major cause for the American health-care mess. However, if bureaucrats and former attorneys control health-care policy and decision-making what recourse might future patients have when Mom is accidentally euthanized or the doctor makes a mistake that affects a patient’s quality of life? Will rewards be severely limited or litigation curtailed. Perhaps patients will be forced to arbitration through a hospital appointed arbitrator.
Finally, the political fall out is dramatic. Once nationalized, any effort to limit costs or change the industry contrary to liberal designs will be demonized. If Democrats decide to increase health-care expenditures 150% and Republicans counter with, say %100 increases, the attack is predictable. The headlines will scream, “Republicans propose scaling back health-care by 50%” or “Republicans want to kill your children!” Such a political tool could spell the end of the two party system and complete the journey to communism.
We stand at a critical juncture and I am afraid the American people have become too complacent to react or seriously consider the situation. We’d rather read meaningless tweets and watch another edition of American Idol. Content that all will be fine once the Health Czar is empowered to decide who lives, who dies, who gets health-care, who does not, who qualifies to pay nothing, and who is too rich and must pay far more.