Sunday, September 06, 2009

Thank your lucky czars

Much is being made over Barack Obama's legion of "czars", one of which had his shit kicked to the curb this weekend for being a communist and all-around dickhead.

The number of czars varies depending on the source, but the numbers I hear most often are north of 30. Which sounds like an awful lot because, well, it is. So I did some Googling to see if I could find a definitive list of czars in the Obama White House and - sorry all you Glenn Beck haters - the most complete list I found was this one. Beck lists 32 czars, and marks with an asterisk those positions which existed in prior administrations. There are eight such posts, leaving us with 24 "czar" positions created by this administration. But are there really 24 new positions reporting to the Executive Office of the President? Er, no.

Take for example David Hayes, "California Water Czar". His real title is Deputy Interior Secretary. He was confirmed by the Senate and reports to Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior. So this is most likely an existing position given a different, dedicated mission.

And then there's Ashton Carter, "Weapons Czar", a kick-ass job title if ever there was one. He's actually Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, reporting to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

And...well actually, that's it. So even after the asterisks and the positions that exist elsewhere, we've still got 22 newly-minted czars courtesy of Barack Obama. I'll throw out a figure of $160,000 for an average annual salary, putting the czar payroll budget at around $3.5 million a year.

As Beck points out, nearly all (if not all) of these positions overlap significantly with established agencies. And some of them are (or at least sound) just plain silly, such as "Great Lakes Czar" (Cameron Davis) and "Domestic Violence Czar" (Lynn Rosenthal). That's not to trivialize these issues, particularly domestic violence, but does Obama really need "czars" covering them? Hardly. Hey, how about a Silly Walks Czar?

Clearly, these jobs are exactly what they appear to be: political patronage for campaign services rendered or money contributed. They're accountable to nobody, and - at best - represent a waste of money and - at worst - an extra-Constitutional branch of the federal government.

1 comment:

Charles said...

One down, 3 to go. Cass Sustein, Mark Lloyd, and John Holdren are a lot worse than Jones was.