Never let a good crisis go to waste. This has been the organizing principle of the political elite during the turmoil, both real and manufactured, of the past couple of years. The federal government, using pandemic-induced fear, expanded tremendously during this time frame (read more on that here and here).
This is indicative of a wider problem with bureaucracy called budget maximization. Bureaucrats act to maximize their respective budgets to obtain more power. This is more than likely a main driver of the massive budget deficits the federal government has been running over the past three fiscal years. Bureaucracies use excuses such as rising crime and increased deaths. To justify their requests for more funding to the public and their representatives. This idea was pioneered by William Niskanen in his 1968 paper “The Peculiar Economics of Bureaucracy,” which cited bureaucracies as a major driver of government growth.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Capitol Police is requesting more money after the attack on Paul Pelosi, the distinguished husband of the speaker of the House. “Friday’s attack against Paul Pelosi is an alarming reminder of the dangerous threats elected officials and public figures face during today’s contentious political climate,” stated Capitol Police chief Tom Manger in a recent press release. Citing recent political violence, the Capitol Police is requesting more money to help protect our dutiful elected officials, never mind the fact that they got a hefty raise of over $400 million in light of the “insurrection” of January 6. This apparently was not enough.
How are we to know if they legitimately “need” more funding? We should expect political violence to occur regardless of how much money we spend to prevent it, right? Steve Scalise and Rand Paul have both been subject to political violence over the past five years. Rep. Gabby Giffords was also subject to violence in 2011. These things happen every once in a while, and one particular instance should not be taken as indicative of a wider trend.
However, the high-profile nature of the event gives the Capitol Police the press and visibility necessary to make such a plea for more funding; the fact that the attack was directed at a well-respected member of the political elite also helps muster popular support for unwarranted funding.
Of course, we have no way of knowing how much funding the Capitol Police actually “needs.” Its service is funded completely through forceful expropriation and is consumed almost exclusively by net tax consumers (politicians and other bureaucrats). It does not help that the Capitol Police measures its own performance either. The organization is completely removed from the checks and balances of profit and loss.
It is important to note that the Capitol Police would not exist in a free market. There would be no government and thus no Capitol. But is there an arrangement preferable to the current system? As a matter of fact, yes, there is. Congressmen should be responsible for their own security details. The Capitol Police has a stark history of ineptitude, yet it continues to request more funding after every failure.
If private citizens are concerned for their safety, they purchase goods and services that make them more secure or they decide that the extra security is not worth it and just settle for calling the police. Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, despite being more productive than the Nancy Pelosis and Chuck Schumers of the world, are responsible for providing their own security. And for good reason; they can afford it.
The same should apply to the political elite, and they already do this to some extent. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has spent over $100,000 on private security. If AOC, a congresswoman who isn’t exactly rich, can provide her own security, Nancy Pelosi, with a net worth of over $100 million, can definitely handle her own.
The taxpayer should not have to subsidize the security of their expropriators. Those who want to obtain political office should be expected to make arrangements for their own security. When they use taxpayer money for their protection, their abuses toward the taxpayer are multiplied.
Unfortunately, politicians will not be quick to eliminate their protections, and the bureaucracy will be more than happy to take more money from the public purse. As long as the public is convinced that our esteemed congressmen are in imminent danger, the Capitol Police can get away with maximizing its budget despite a history of failure.
Regardless, the Pelosis should be in the market for a new security detail.