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The Rise of the Bureaucratic State Essay

The bureaucracy has been constantly growing since its beginning. At the end of the Federalist period, only 3,000 civilian officials were appointed; then in 1925 about half a million were employees in the bureaucracy. However, the size of the bureaucracy is completely insignificant. What matters is the amount of power that can be exercised by the members of the bureaucratic agencies.

The author, James Q. Wilson, provides an example that in 1971, the federal government provided fifty four million dollars to various social security programs, however, the Social Security Administration only employed 73,000 people at the time. The increases in the size of the bureaucratic agencies affect the executive branch of the government. For example, from 1816 to 1861, the employment in the executive branch increased from 4,837 to 36,672. However, eighty six percent of this growth was the result of additions to the postal service. After 1861, many new departments were formed relating to agriculture, labor and commerce, which have led to a clientelisitc (client oriented) bureaucracy. In addition, the government began to formally give bureaucratic recognition to the many peculiar interests in the economy.

The author concludes that the bureaucratic clentelism becomes self-perpetuating in the absence of some crisis or scandal. In addition, the separation of powers makes it difficult to permit the enactment of a new program or the creation of a new agency.

After reading this article, I was surprised that some agencies associated with agriculture control the flow of billions of dollars in expenditures and loans. Furthermore, local committees of farmers, private farm organizations dominate policy making in some areas.

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