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Democracy, bureaucracy, idiocracy

Government

I once heard a man yell at a New York bureaucrat: "You are the Vampire State!"

I was reminded of this incident one weekend last February when I took my children to Bethpage State Park for some winter fun. A park ranger blocked our entrance and forced us to return the sled to the car because there was not enough snow on the hills. I thought of arguing with him that the safety of my children is my job. Then I remembered how useless trying to reason with state employees turned out to be at the end of summer last year at Jones Beach.

These guys have not majored in political philosophy. They were not responsible for making the decisions that spoiled our fun. They were simply doing their jobs. You know: "I was just following the orders of my superiors." And the superiors probably expect that their concern for the safety of the little children playing in their jurisdiction will bring grateful tears to our eyes.

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It is true that American democracy has given me the opportunity to write angry letters to the elected officials in any state of the Union and (eventually, when I get my citizenship) to vote for candidates who promise to reform the regulatory system to be less intrusive. Unfortunately that train has long departed for the residents of New York.

I remember growing up in Bulgaria when the totalitarian socialist government tried to control so many aspects of our lives-all for our own safety and the good of society, of course. Yet that collectivist police state considered children and parents trustworthy enough to determine individually if there was enough snow for safe sledding in Vitosha State Park near the capital Sofia.

Sadly, the prevalent philosophy in the Empire State is that we can and should use the political process to delegate to bureaucrats our decisions on what to eat, where to smoke, when to sled. . . . Friedrich Hayek called it "the road to serfdom." It may not lead to gas chambers and gulags but it surely transforms democracy into idiocracy.

Alex Tokarev
Alex Tokarev

Alex is the chair of the Department of Business at Morthland College in West Frankfort, Ill., and teaches at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. The native of communist Bulgaria fanatically supports the Bulgarian soccer team, Levski.

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