On the American State

This article is interesting:

The Rise and Fall of the U.S. Government by John J. Dilulio Jr. | The Washington Monthly

The federal civil service is overloaded, not bloated. The failed
Federal Emergency Management Agency response to Hurricane Katrina in
2005 hit when FEMA had only about 2,100 employees and had recently lost
many senior managers. The badly bollixed launch of Obamacare health
exchanges in 2013 involved scores of contractors and was overseen by the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal center with fewer
than 5,000 employees. The Internal Revenue Service fails to collect
more than $300 billion a year in taxes it knows are owed, in part
because it lacks the necessary personnel.

Fukuyama is correct that America has never had a fully “centralized,
bureaucratic, and autonomous state”; but he is wrong to imply that
America needs one. What America does need is a federal public
administration workforce that relies less on proxies and more on
full-time bureaucrats who are well selected, well trained, well
motivated, well rewarded financially, and well respected by one and all. American government is decaying mainly because it has too few federal
bureaucrats chasing after too many federal proxies, monitoring too many
federal grants and contracts, and handling too many dollars.

The way
forward is to de-leverage the federal government by defunding its
nonessential proxies and relying more on full-time federal civil
servants to directly administer federal policies, programs, and
regulations. Over time, hiring more federal bureaucrats while pruning
proxies would result in a federal government less beset by grant-seeking
and contract-mongering special interests, more “faithfully executed” by
the executive branch, and less bollixed by the Congress and its dozens
of massively dysfunctional administrative oversight committees and
I don't have personal experience with the questions here, but it's true that in a college education where I focused on politics and policy, the only discussions of bureaucracy came about when discussing obvious corruption - the design of strong gov't systems is a different matter, and one I didn't hear about much in college. Perhaps a good topic for an MPA....

On MLK in 2015

Growing up in Georgia, the idea of Martin Luther King Jr. was a powerful force. He was a unifying figure, canonized in literature and lesson, and a source of pride for the greater Atlanta area. I don't recall ever hearing about him from my grandparents (or really anyone that was a contemporary of his; he would be around 83 this year), but I do remember the shock when Cedric The Entertainer's character made a disparaging comment about MLK in the movie Barbershop.

After that, I realized that MLK wasn't a real person for us. He was a hero, a saint, a martyr....but not a person. And his accomplishment is much more complex than we heard about in school. See this excerpt from an interview he did that I read about here:

KING: But I do not think violence and hatred can solve this problem.
KING: I think they will end up creating many more social problems than they solve, and I'm thinking of a very strong love. I'm not, I'm thinking, I'm thinking of love in action and not something where you say, "Love your enemies," and just leave it at that, but you love your enemies to the point that you're willing to sit-in at a lunch counter in order to help them find themselves. You're willing to go to jail.
KING: And I don't think anybody could consider this cowardice or even a weak approach. So I think --
WARREN: -- yes --
KING: -- that many of these arguments come from, from those who have gotten so caught up in bitterness that they cannot see the deep moral issues involved.
MLK's choice of non-violence was not because it was the best method of achieving integration, but instead because it was the best method of ending segregation. We haven't completed the former work yet, and the latter work continues to be a struggle. Below the jump is a map of Atlanta using 2010 census data; you can see the fault line between the green of blacks and the blue of non-Hispanic whites, with stark sections of people who identify as Hispanic or Asian.