They came, one by one, emerging from unseen offices and workspaces, making their way quietly along the back streets and alleyways of the American enclave known variously as Oz or Wonderland or Washington DC.
They were the gray, boring, unimposing men and women who inhabit the capital city of the most powerful empire on earth, barely noticed and effectively forgotten. They were known only by their titles: PenPusher, PaperShuffler, Agencycrat, and LowLevel CivilServant.
But they were also the friction-reducing, life-prolonging, anti-wear, multi-viscosity grease that makes the millstone of government grind. They were, in short, the most powerful people on the planet.
They arrived at their natural habitat, an old, gray conference table in an old, gray, nearly forgotten federal building.
Primary PenPusher Wright Downes addressed the assembled Nonentities. “Perhaps BudgetClerk Meeks could briefly summarize the purpose of this meeting for us.”
Meeks hemmed and hawed and cleared his throat in the traditionally expected manner. “As you know, it’s been over five years since our leadership so adroitly maneuvered the Politicians into creating that mega bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security. That was our greatest accomplishment to date.”
“Hear, hear,” a few voices tentatively murmured.
“It greatly expanded the job pool for our own kind,” Meeks continued.
“It was brilliant,” a young Political Appointeecrat almost gushed.
“As of 2007 they had 208,000 of our breed employed with an annual budget of 44.9 billion taxbucks.”
“Thank you, Meeks,” Primary PenPusher muttered. “But there are problems. Perhaps Assistant Auditor Anna Lyzer could tell us about that…”
“Certainly,” the AA announced uncertainly. “As everyone knows, the whole point of our Master Plan is to continually expand the overall size of our tribe by creating ever more government jobs. But the creation of DHS as a job-generating machine has had its downside. For example, it subsumed the Immigration and Naturalization Service and replaced it with two new bureaucracies.”
“But, but, isn’t that good?” a Crat-in-Training Intern stammered. “I mean, the more bureaucracy the better, right?”
“Half right,” a savvy old Insider Beltwaycrat hesitantly interjected. “You see, son, standalone bureaucracies are easier to expand. We continually spend beyond our budgets and operate beyond our mandates. Then we rewrite our mission statements and grow even more, all the while recruiting ever more conforming citizens into our government employee ranks. So consider this: The two new bureaucracies created out of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service are called Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services. Do you see what’s wrong with that?”
“Uh, no sir,” the intern sniveled.
“Those two new bureaus should be four. If they were independent agencies we would have Immigration Enforcement, Customs Enforcement, Citizenship Services and Immigration Services. Any organization with an ‘and’ in its name should be two organizations, each extending its mission creep exponentially.”
“Uh-huh,” an officegeek softly groused. “Our biggest setback was when the politicians allowed the BATF to tack that E onto their acronym.”
“What we desperately need,” a Nondescript Assistantcrat timidly suggested, ” is a separate Bureau of Alcohol, Bureau of Tobacco, Bureau of Firearms, and Bureau of Explosives.”
“I believe that’s been your special mission for years, right Grimley?”
Lowly Junior Vice-Subordinate Accountant Grimley Styffnek nodded. “Chief Counsel for the Oversight Committee has a mistress tucked away in Georgetown. Congresscrat Rob Sittisens has a gay lover. Senator Flip Phlopper is tapping an underaged page. NRA lobbyist Gunnar Wrights was videoed passing out bribes. It’s just a matter of time before we leverage the BATFE into four separate agencies.”
“Now for the great news,” Primary PenPusher announced. “Let me read you this from the August 2007 issue of Reason, the libertarian flagship magazine: ‘More than half of all Americans – 53 percent – now depend on government for their income.’ Just a few more years, comrades, and we’ll take over this government completely.”
A muted cheer ensued and the Powercrats of Oz adjourned.