The Constitution specifically authorizes the President to select his Cabinet officers in Article II, Section 2 (bolding mine):
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
This would seem to leave the Executive branch a lot of leeway in Cabinet-level appointments, right? And they sure as hell have exercised every last bit of that leeway. At present these are the Cabinet-level departments that exist:
- Health and Human Services
- Housing and Urban Development
- Veterans Affairs
- Homeland Security
So, do we need all of these? Let’s look at them each in turn.
State. Yes, we need the State Department. We need a SecState that is more competent than either of the last two, yes, but State serves an essential Constitutional function: Dealing with foreign powers.
Defense: Again, essential and Constitutional, for reasons that should be obvious.
Justice: There is a place in the Imperial government for this function, but in the last few decades it has expanded in scope to great excess. There is a role for the FBI in internal counter-espionage and crimes that cross state lines, but the Justice Department should not be getting involved in local issues, for reasons of civil rights or anything else.
Interior: No particular problem here; we have vast tracts of Imperial land here in the West that require some administration, we have the national parks which are of value to the citizenry, and we have water and land use issues. Again, though, Interior has overstepped in recent decades.
Agriculture: Is there any reason this couldn’t be rolled into Interior?
Labor: The Imperial government has no place interfering with the voluntary agreements between employer and employee. States are free to set their own labor laws and practices, but the Imperial City should butt out. Abolish this department entirely.
Health and Human Services: Primarily handles welfare programs. These are best handled by the several States, not the Imperial City. Abolish this department entirely.
Housing and Urban Development: Once more, housing is a local issue, and should be handled by states and municipalities. Abolish this department entirely.
Transportation: The only legitimate role for the Imperial government in this arena is maintaining the interstate highway system. The Imperial City should not be telling auto manufacturers what cars to build or how to build them. Roll the interstate highway maintenance into Interior and abolish this department entirely.
Energy: This department exists primarily (it seems) to throw roadblocks in the way of private enterprise. Abolish this department entirely.
Education: There is no legitimate role for the Imperial City in education, which is a local issue to be decided by local school boards. (Better yet, privatize the entire system and divorce education from government completely.) Abolish this department entirely.
Veterans Affairs: This is a department rife with corruptions and inefficiencies. It may not be desirable to eliminate it completely, but many of its functions would be better privatized. Minimize Imperial involvement and eventually devolve VA functions to Defense, after which this department can be abolished.
Homeland Security: Bullshit. There is no legitimate function here that can not and should not be handled by Justice. Privatize the airport security functions, which worked just fine for many decades, and abolish this department entirely.
There are a few more Cabinet-level positions; we’ll go over those next week.