Does anyone out there understand what’s going on with Homeland Security? (Here’s the latest news story.) The Bush folks are saying they need authority to break unions in order to run the show effectively. But as anyone who’s managed in the Federal sector understands, union contracts are a minor problem compared to Civil Service protection. (Of course anyone who’s worked in a non-civil-service, patronage-driven environment knows that can be even worse.) Bush has already charge the Democrats with preferring union bosses to the victims of terrorism; Daschle fires back that the President prefers having an issue for November to having the agency he asked for. (It doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone to fight fire with fire by saying “We don’t intend to let Karl Rove turn the Homeland Defense Agency into a patronage dump.” And of course explaining that things like civil service protection are an obvious extension of the general theories of limited government and checks-and-balances that conservatives are supposed to be in favor of would be a waste of time.)

In any case, it’s not clear to me that moving the boxes around on the organization chart is going to make us more secure, but I’m open to instruction.


Jeffrey Rosen seems to think that the Democrats’ concern is that the Administration bill would “create a class of nonunionized Federal employees.” That has to be wrong. Most Federal employees aren’t unionized right now. Confucius say, “Tly again.”

But Rosen raises a good question: why are the people the liberals love to characterize as “wing nuts” more concerned about the civil-liberties threats in the bill than are mainstream Democrats? Still, I think Matthew Yglesias is right in calling the Rosen piece a good example of “self-hating liberalism.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

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