Michael Parenti is a professor of political science at several American universities. He has a PhD in political science from Yale University. He is known for being a progressive activist and a provocative thinker. As such, he wrote numerous books that focused on the American nation, the role of USA in the world and the power of money. The relation between democracy and the economic power - which is particularly present in his book Democracy for the few also belongs to his favourite themes.
Michael Parenti's major objective in this excerpt is to point out the fact that we have to consider the tasks of the bureaucracy as political ones. His purpose is hence to investigate the politico-administrative world of the United States of America, showing to what extent and how exactly the administrative departments and agencies are situated on the center of a network of power and contradictory interests.
[...] The principal result is that federal agencies at the time Parenti wrote Democracy for the Few, were at the service of the corporate interests, even sometimes at their “devotion” as Parenti explains it. In the case of the Interstate Commerce Commission they literally ran for the trucking and railroad companies. Or at least interest groups achieve to develop very cooperative or “constructive” relations with their respective “regulation-agencies”, which are in some cases even run by administrators directly appointed by the dominant corporate executives. [...]
[...] In truth, the agencies and departments can independently pass so-called rulings that often have the same enforcement value than the legislation. On the contrary, it is quite possible that their roles and missions are defined in a legislation, but in general this one “allows leeway in application” (Parenti). The writer achieves rightly to synthesize some bias the people can have towards the bureaucracy in the following sentence: political process does not end with the passage of a bill but continues with equal or even greater intensity at the administrative level albeit in more covert fashion”. [...]
[...] This kind of policy may sometimes put the lives of many US-citizens in danger, for example when it is not publicly announced that certain sorts of herbicides produce birth deformities although the Department of Health does know about that. Parenti refers to two scientists from Stanford University Dr. Frank and Dr. Primack - who state that executive decision-making process too often sacrifices the safety and welfare of the public to the short-term interests of the government bureaucracy and the large industrial interest to which it has become allied”. [...]
[...] Parenti explains us for instance, that the Advisory Council was against the “inventory on water pollutants“ that was proposed by the Congress, so that the government decided that this one would just be on a “voluntary basis”, above all without any consultation of environmental organisations, as Robert Dietsch specifies it. The degree of delegation is on occasion even more flagrant at the state and municipal level, where it occurs sometimes that the corporate leaders of a given area, have the right nominate their own personnel to licensing boards” The author sees in those practices, the emergence of a new kind of authority that he baptised “private-public authority”. [...]
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