In a rare instance of true investigative journalism by a mainstream news organization, the Washing Post has unveiled the first part in an ongoing series about the true, hidden nature of our government infrastructure and how it functions (or does not function). Spearheaded by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, today’s piece examines how much our government has grown in response to 9/11, how much money is spent and how many people are required to keep the machine going. A taste:
In all, at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11. Each has required more people, and those people have required more administrative and logistic support: phone operators, secretaries, librarians, architects, carpenters, construction workers, air-conditioning mechanics and, because of where they work, even janitors with top-secret clearances.
One of the major concerns I have had with the Tea Party movement and others who denounce Obama as a proponent of big government is that these people fail to see the obvious: our government is already big and has been for quite some time, and if they really want to be taken seriously (from my perspective at least) they should focus on how our government allocates its resources and how effective and efficient it is at doing so. To simply say Obama is a big spender, a socialist, etc., misses the point entirely and is incredibly naive and hypocritical when you see the expansion of government that took place under Bush II, which the WaPo piece highlights.
The WaPo piece also shows us how our government has become big business, increasingly reliant on private contractors to perform some of its functions. In addition, government employees leave to make six-figure salaries in the private sector doing similar work or using previous knowledge to profit (even though they are not supposed to), and the private sector sends its lobbyists to Washington to ensure their interests are taken care of, which they usually are.
Unfortunately, the business of government is being run into the ground because our political leaders simply are not aware of how deep the rabbit hole goes and what needs to be done to course-correct, and even if they did, they lack the ability (too entrenched in corporate world to risk alienating “corporate sponsors” and losing campaign money) and/or support (Americans “want” to lower the deficit, but are hesitant to make spending cuts to our largest spending programs like health care and defense) to do so.
Until we, the people, start to take a closer look at just how wasteful our government is and demand our elected leaders address it in a substantive way, we will only see the continued expansion of our government infrastructure and subsequent waste of taxpayer money in areas where it simply is not needed, at the expense of more critical areas (for our long-term progress) like education, preventative healthcare and energy.
If you want more specific analysis of the piece as well as more thoughts on our national security state (which I do not go into here), read Greenwald’s take.