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Allison Pearson has an important article in the Telegraph about the British National Health System (NHS). People in Britian are dying of treatable conditions because the NHS will not provide quality care in a timely fashion. As one doctor complained: “The NHS is run by managers for the benefit of managers.” It has shifted from doctors serving patients to the bureaucracy serving itself — internally, rather than externally, focused. The NHS is a chilling illustration of where our federal government is headed.

All complex systems require feedback and response. The driver of a car needs a speedometer to detect speed variations. As the car deviates from the speed limit, the driver makes throttle changes accordingly. If the driver fails to make the appropriate adjustments, a helpful officer in a blue uniform will critique the driver’s piloting skills and apply external accountability. The system keeps traffic flowing relatively conflict free — because the system detects and corrects improper speed. The same principle applies to organizations.

Organizational predictability depends on

  • Mission clarity: a widely accepted understanding of the organization’s purpose;
  • Service focus: an understanding that the organization produces work products that are needed by others; and
  • Control (i.e., accountability): a means to detect and correct deviations in mission and work product quality.

Without detection and correction, missions creep and morph. Work products stop being externally focused (what a customer needs) and become internally focused (what the organization wishes to produce). Organizations lacking accountability lose their way and eventually substitute their interests, for the interests of those they are intended to serve.

Successful commercial organizations have layered systems of accountability to prevent deviations from their mission. Quality systems check work products against customer requirements, management watches employees, stockholders watch management, and customers provide external accountability. Organizations that fail to meet customer expectations, suffer declining revenue.

The Disney Corporation is an example of an internally focused company. In response to employee pressure, Disney made a radical departure from its mission. It substituted employee interest in social engineering for its customer’s desire for family entertainment. Its customers have responded with the application of accountability. Disney has lost $135 billion (38 percent) of its market value in three years. Disney management will either take corrective action, or eventually be replaced by a competitor more sensitive to customer desires.

The federal government is also prone to mission deviation. Like commercial organizations, it has also been designed with layered accountability to keep it on course. Government functionaries are expected to watch each other, and whistleblowers are protected by law. Inspectors general audit government operations, and can make criminal referrals to the DoJ. The three branches of government hold each other accountable via constitutional authority. Our elected leadership watches over all of it, and voters watch the elected leadership.

With all that accountability, how did our government reach a point where:

Those things and more are happening because our government has managed to break our systems of accountability, allowing radicals and miscreants to run wild. Whistleblowers are no longer protected by the DoJ. Criminal referrals from IGs are not prosecuted by the DoJ (e.g., Lois Lerner and Andrew McCabe). Congressional oversight is powerless without DoJ enforcement. (When Congress referred Eric Holder for prosecution, Attorney General Eric Holder declined to prosecute Eric Holder.) Political oversight of the bureaucracy fails when the swamp has more power than the elected leadership — as Chuck Schumer warned that it does. Voter oversight is undercut by DoJ collaboration with the media to promote propaganda and filing lawsuits against states to prevent fraud-proofing our election processes.

When Eric Holder declared himself Barack Obama’s “wingman,” he effectively redirected the DoJ from “equal justice under law,” to “guarding the six” of its political benefactors. The resulting corruption at the DoJ has undermined the systems of accountability throughout our government. Problems can be detected, but they are rarely corrected. Nobody serving the bureaucracy suffers the consequences of breaking the law.

Countless essays have examined the forces working to corrupt our government:

  • The communist march through our institutions,
  • Ill-advised social justice pursuits,
  • Mission creep in response to emerging global conditions, and
  • Political polarization of the electorate.

But those corrupting influences were only effective because the systems of accountability no longer keep our ship on state on its intended heading. Federal employees (2.9 million of them) aren’t held accountable for serving the needs of the citizens. Instead, they are focused on increasing the size and power of the federal government.

The federal government cannot be trusted to correct itself. Its solution to every issue is more government — rarely disciplinary action. When our national security apparatus failed us in the days before 9/11, nobody was fired for missing the clues. The federal government addressed the problem by creating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and massively expanding the power of government. Yet now, we’re funding and equipping terrorist organizations and military-aged males on the terrorist watchlist are crossing our border daily — with permission.

The DHS didn’t improve our national security because it, like other departments, isn’t held accountable for serving us rather than the bureaucracy. Violations of the public trust — and even the law — are easily detected, but the guilty rarely face consequences. Federal accountability is broken. An intervention is desperately needed.

President Ronald Reagan understood the nature of accountability. While negotiating with the Soviets, he famously said that we must “Trust but verify.” Many thought the statement was contradictory, but Reagan understood the nature of trust. People subject to accountability tend to behave in a trustworthy manner. Those free of consequences, often don’t.

Americans see that our government has failed Reagan’s “trust but verify” imperative. According to Pew Research, a shocking 84 percent of Americans don’t trust the government to “do the right thing” (i.e., represent their interests). A self-governed country cannot continue to operate with that level of distrust. While the amendment process is a herculean effort, we have few remaining peaceful alternatives. We either need to make the effort, or face a future resembling Mexico, Venezuela, or Cuba. Maybe Canada should build a southern wall.

John Green is a retired engineer and political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Idaho. He spent his career designing complex defense systems, developing high performance organizations, and doing corporate strategic planning. He is a staff writer for the American Free News Network and can be reached at greenjeg@gmail.com.

Image: Ben Woosley