Czars are all the craze these daze. Anytime we face a knotty problem which seems to be without a solution, someone inevitably suggests we create a czar. The idea is that some extra-powerful person, usually male, can take on a thus-unsolved situation, cut through the red tape, hire and fire, get things done without the inconveniences of commissions, elected leaders, career experts, laws and elections. “Sweeping Powers” is the term usually attached to the newly created position. We like our czars. They are comfort food to feed the simple fact that we are unable to do anything about, say, illegal drugs. So we created the position of Drug Czar with Sweeping Powers to cut red tape, hire and fire and you know the rest of the drill. Notice after creation of a Drug Czar how the illegal drug problem disappeared? We’ve had several Drug Czars, each better than the last, and today the flow of illegal drugs into this country, the money laundering, the drug-related crimes and Colombian cartels are gone. Whoever thought up the idea of creating a Drug Czar deserves our thanks. (Some may argue that the only foreign drugs we’ve kept out of the country are the less expensive prescription drugs from Canada, but there are always the naysayers.) There is now talk in Washington of creating a War Czar to take charge of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At least three – some say five – retired four-star generals were asked to be the War Czar, and all of them turned down the offer. One who was sought out, retired Marine Gen. John J. Sheehan, said the Administration “didn’t know where the hell they were going.” And: “We got it right during the early days of Afghanistan – and then lost it. We have never gotten it right in Iraq.” Yet there is much to be said for empowering an individual with the muscle to appoint, encourage, hire and fire, be commander-in-chief of our two wars. Let’s call him “The President.” A point no one mentions in creating these new all-powerful posts is that along with them come staff, offices, car, chauffeur, expense account, airplane and, later, a government pension. These added and unbudgeted expenses are because czars are another layer of governmental bureaucracy, and layers don’t come cheap. The most expensive czar was the Homeland Security Czar, which was made a cabinet-level position and given a budget the size of France’s GNP. Incidentally, we must remember that the original title of Czar was the Russian version of Caesar and Kaiser. So the Russians had the Czar, the Czarina and the little Czardines. The Czar answered to no one, ruled without advice – unless you want to count Rasputin – and got shot for his troubles by outraged Russian peasants, thus giving us the term, “Serfs up.” In each instance when we circumvent the laws (such as bugging phones and opening mail) to streamline an unworkable organization, the duly appointed or elected officials are replaced by someone who offers us security. This creates the nagging worry that, in our rush to feel safe from terrorists, juvenile delinquents, drug lords and unending wars, we are evading responsibility while surrendering our rights and our freedoms. Benjamin Franklin is credited with writing, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Here in Texas, we also love to hand problems over to someone out of the governmental loop. Our leaders often appoint blue ribbon committees to study the situation, but czars sound more macho. When the Texas lottery lurched from one scandal to another mess, Gov. Rick Perry appointed a lottery czar. It was the same story with the Texas Youth Commission. The state agency had a director who answered to a commission appointed by the governor. But when a string of scandals surfaced in the youth agency, Gov. Perry sacked the commission and appointed – what else? – a TYC Czar. A bill now before the Legislature would make the temporary organization permanent, with a director appointed by, and answering only to, the governor. The director can cut through red tape, etc. Hey, it beats a blue ribbon committee. One reason for these moves is because Gov. Perry, who is hardly a czar, keeps trying to expand his limited powers by issuing decrees such as having all young Texas girls be vaccinated against a form of cancer. The Legislature shot that plan down. His latest attempt is to create a conservator for Texas Southern University, which faces problems, everything from non-payment for a parking garage to a former school president accused of misappropriating TSU funds. The governor asked the board of regents to resign, but some refused. Also, the idea of a one-man rule is being strongly fought by the Houston black community. They don’t want a czar. A Houston area school district, North Forest, is always in trouble. Its finances are a shambles. The district goes through superintendents like Kleenex. Its TAKS scores are unacceptable. So there was a call to put a conservator, aka a czar, over North Forest. Not much has changed – they just fired another superintendent. Note these titles. Their official names are euphemisms: conservator, director, etc., never czar, but people like to use that term, and it makes headline writing a lot easier. The original title for the Iraq-Afghanistan War Czar was conservator, then they changed the name to – no kidding – the execution manager. This title must have been hatched by the same Washington whiz kids who at first labeled the Iraq occupation “a crusade.” Needless to say, the Muslim world took umbrage (along with a lot of American lives) at that word. Wonder how “execution manager” will go over in the souks? I would like to be empowered to rule over Texas without those whiney legislators, commission members, the press and the voters. Make me the all-powerful and single individual. This would be the Lone Czar State. Ashby rules at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location