Our Wonderland of Bureaucracy: A Study of the Growth of Bureaucracy in the Federal Government, and Its Destructive Effect upon the Constitution

By James M. Beck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
CONGRESS AND THE BUREAUCRACY

"Whenever the horse stopped (which it did very often) he fell off in front; and, whenever it went on again (which it generally did rather suddenly), he fell off behind. Otherwise he kept on pretty well, except that he had a habit of now and then falling off sideways; and, as he generally did this on the side on which Alice was walking, she soon found that it was the best plan not to walk quite close to the horse."

--ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

WOODROW WILSON, some forty years ago, when a graduate student, published a small book entitled Congressional Government, in which he vigorously urged the superiority of a responsible cabinet ministry over a congressional committee government. A distinguished and very capable representative from Massachusetts, Congressman Luce, in his book, Congress, An Explanation, has countered with a suggestion that the cabinet ministry form of government, as it has developed in England today, "is nothing but monarchy under another name, and pretty near absolute monarchy at that while it lasts" while under our form of committee government in Congress "every member has the chance to contribute toward good legislation" and "in the committee room may play a most useful part in constructive effort for the public good."

Controlling the cabinet ministers of England in matters of detail, the English bureaucracy generally dictates the bulk of the legislation enacted by Parliament. Representative Luce agrees with the Lord Chief Justice of England, who has stated his case at length in his book, The New Despotism. In my opinion our federal bureaucracy shapes, and generally determines, the administrative details of legislation, although the larger policies are at times shaped by Congress. The extracts, quoted elsewhere in this book from the late President Taft and from two of the annual messages of President Hoover to Congress, in which he admitted that it seemed impossible to reorganize the administrative branches of the government, because of

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