John Marini, who writes for the Claremont Review of Books and is a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, has devoted his newest book to the origins and growth of the American administrative state. Marini recognizes that he is dealing with a critical turning point in American government. To his credit, he refuses to examine it nonchalantly, as the natural development of a benevolent state that exists as an indispensable answer to our needs. According to Marini, rule by unelected administrators who are empowered to intervene in a wide range of human relations, to regulate the behavior of citizens and to enforce their own values, was not part of our original political design. It represents a dramatic departure from what our federal union was intended to be, and a deviant model that may already be beyond our control.
As someone who wrote a book on a related subject, I was eager to learn how Marini treated the growth of centralized public administration in the United States. It may be appropriate to divide his analysis into two sections—one that shows how our administrative behemoth has eaten into social, cultural, and commercial activities; and another that focuses on the ideological preconditions for that development. His book in my view addresses the first better than the second.
Unmasking the Administ…
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Marini begins by examining the role of the federal government in helping to topple the Nixon administration, a topic that he’s treated before. He argues compellingly that by “the time of Nixon’s reelection…