Corps, czars replicate federal programs

Freedom Editorial

What this country really needs is a moratorium on the creation of any new “corps” or “czars.” That, or a moratorium on the politicians proposing one.

It seems that in response to every problem, real or trumped-up, the reflex of the political/bureaucratic class is to lobby for the naming of a new czar or corps of some kind. They’re almost always redundant to federal programs or offices already existing.

But rather than expend the energy required to reform the existing agency and make it work as desired, the preferred course is to pile yet another layer on the teetering layer cake called government.

In recent weeks, for instance, recommendations were floated for one new corps and one new czar. Both are wastes of our time, money and serious consideration.

Evidently hoping to recast himself in the image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by creating a modern equivalent of the Civilian Conservation Corps, candidate John Kerry proposed diverting $100 million he claims the federal government spends on timber subsidies each year to fund a Forest Restoration Corps. The new corps — it’s become a requirement that every candidate for president proposes at least one new corps — would be given the rather vague mission of improving public lands, according to Kerry.

But Sen. Kerry’s Forest Restoration Corps sounds like it would be doing work already the responsibility of other federal agencies. What is the U.S. Forest Service, after all, if not a forest restoration corps of earlier vintage?

And isn’t this also the work of the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, to name just a few agencies already involved in some way with public lands stewardship?

If these aren’t fulfilling their missions, or require redirecting, Kerry should just say so — and come out with concrete proposals to get them operating the way he wants them to. Creating yet another redundant land agency is clearly not the answer. If anything, perhaps more thought should be given to consolidating established agencies (the Forest Service and BLM, for instance).

Sen. Kerry also should be aware that Congress not long ago passed a Healthy Forests Initiative of its own, earmarking three-quarters of a billion dollars a year in forest restoration funding. But the senator was too busy running for president to participate in the debate or vote. So how much can he care?