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The Perpetual Motion Bureaucracy

And they said it couldn't be done! Leave it to Congress to create the first perpetual motion machine, more commonly known as the federal government.

The US government has grown to staggering proportions. As THE largest employer in the country, it pays salaries to more than 2 million employees. The actual figure is a mystery. According to the Office of Personnel Management in 2011, it was 2.79 million, spread across 15 departments and more than 2000 overlapping agencies. Add to that the US postal service, Amtrak, the military, all the grant recipients with those under their provenance, and the REAL number of government-sponsored employees defies enumeration.

As slow as the wheels of government may turn, actually stopping them takes more than the proverbial act of Congress. Even a government shutdown only taps the brakes on the cogs of perpetual motion without dismantling the infrastructure. We could put Congress on a six-month furlough and the government would hum along with no discernible change of stride, other than missing all the rancor of their dialogue and the incessant finger-pointing.

That is the purpose of a bureaucracy. Like a living monolith, its sole function is perpetuation of its entities. You see, the nitty-gritty details of government administration is handled by non-elected officials. Their express purpose is maintaining standard operating procedures, thus feeding the monolith's unceasing appetite, keeping the government running like a well oiled machine.

Imagine a scenario that would bring it to a grinding halt and you have a recipe for disaster. The thin veneer of society keeps the illusion of orderly business in place, but that veneer is very thin and fractured by scandal, corruption and greed. Worst of all, we have no simple way of reining in the monster Congress has created. Electing independents with term limits and a mandate to reduce the size of government would be a start, but I wouldn't envy the research and difficult decisions required. Like any living organism, the interconnecting vessels would need careful dissection and blood-letting as jobs are let go.

Is there a future for America? I don't know. It's a problem too big for the likes of me!

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