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As an economist who had studied administrative and regulatory law, he saw the waste and inefficiency in socialism, but he points out that Lenin and Hitler, as well as the British champions of socialization and "thus the most eminent advocates of socialism implicitly admit that their tenets and plans cannot stand the criticism of economic science and are doomed under a regime of freedom" (von Mises 119)
In Bureaucracy, von Mises concluded that every man cannot be an economist, that professionals have an advantage over laymen as they devote all their time to that one thing, becoming specialists in their area. Highly regulated fields include environmental protection, healthcare, and professional licensing. Understanding and applying principles of administrative law are critical to a smooth functioning of government. Administrative law is also important in interactions with government in its proprietary capacity, such as eminent domain, real estate development, contracts and construction. As the amateur cannot become a specialist, but needs to have a voice in the overall effect of the bureaucrats' rule, von Mises proposes there be a "middle way," capitalism regulated and regimented by government interference with business. "But this government intervention should not amount to full government control of all economic activities; it should be limited to the elimination of some especially objectionable excrescences of capitalism without suppressing the activities of the entrepreneur altogether" (von Mises 122).
It would be a mistake to leave all regulatory and economic decision-making to professionals, to completely abdicate to professionals in administrative, social, educational or other governmental issues, even though the ordinary citizen does not concern him or herself with such things as agriculture, flow-charts, zoning or road-building. Bureaucrats can ply their expertise in these areas, but the citizen, if he or she wants to be self-determining, must at least gain some kind of judgment in these areas to guide the bureaucrats into decisions that do not encroach on the rights and ability to act independently, of each citizen. Oversight of compliance audits, knowledge of governmental agency functions and assistance in training citizens in the legislative systems must be in place. As von Mises said at the end of his argument,
Democracy means self-determination. How can people determine their own affairs if they are too indifferent to gain through their own thinking an independent judgment on fundamental political and economic problems? Democracy is not a good that people can enjoy without trouble. It is, on the contrary, a treasure that must be daily defended and conquered anew by strenuous effort (von Mises 125).
In conclusion, bureaucracy has its place in the regulations and administration of a government, but when it begins to encroach on the rights of people, it must be limited. Expertise is needed in most areas of government and is invaluable in a democracy. However, experts must be controlled by the tenets of democracy, and must allow the common man (or woman) to determine how many and what kind of decisions may be made about their lives without seriously limiting their rights and freedom.
Benson, H., (Jan-Feb 2005). Focusing the AFL-CIO debate: Bureaucracy v. Democracy. Union Democracy Review #154. Jan-Feb 2005.Association for Union Democracy.
Webster, N. (1974). Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. Nashville: The Southwestern Co.
A von Mises, L. (1944). Bureaucracy. Auburn, Alabama: Mises.
Large corporations are entities that most people work for and are used to, that focus all power on the leaders, as "the deciders," who make decisions, good or bad, for everyone below them. The employees of a large corporation must go along with the decisions that the leaders make because they have no choice. A government run on these principles is not a democracy. It is a bureaucracy.
Today workers in unions fear that, though it is more efficient, the bureaucratization of the labor movement will incorporate independent small unions and combine them into an assemblage of 15 or 20 organizations, which would parcel out all jurisdictional rights of the smaller unions and reduce the labor union to one, huge bureaucratic entity. Workers, if they are dissatisfied with union leaders would be unable to replace them, and be locked into this system. Under a bureaucracy, central labor councils in cities and states would be subject to strict control by the officers of huge internationals, who would appoint all their delegates and officers and deprive them of autonomy. The bureaucracy, they fear,…[continue]
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