Armed Bureaucrats & Higher Education Lowering the Bar - TribPapers

Armed Bureaucrats & Higher Education Lowering the Bar

Photo by Mikael Kristenson.

AshevilleThere are more bureaucrats than the 186,000 Marines who are now permitted to carry firearms.

A report issued last year by the watchdog group Open The Books, “The Militarization of The U.S. Executive Agencies,” found that more than 200,000 federal bureaucrats now have been granted the authority to carry guns and make arrests—more than the 186,000 Americans serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. “One hundred three executive agencies outside of the Department of Defense spent $2.7 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between fiscal years 2006 and 2019 (inflation adjusted),” notes the report. “Nearly $1 billion ($944.9 million) was spent between fiscal years 2015 and 2019 alone.”

The watchdog reports that the Department of Health and Human Services has 1,300 guns, including one shotgun, five submachine guns, and 189 automatic firearms. NASA has its own fully outfitted SWAT team, with all the attendant weaponry, including armored vehicles, submachine guns, and breech shotguns. The Environmental Protection Agency has purchased drones, GPS trackers, radar equipment, and night vision goggles, in addition to stockpiling firearms.

While it’s hardly a new complaint that federal bureaucracies are overstepping their rulemaking authority and usurping Congress’ legislative powers, the idea that executive agencies are broadly empowered to effectively create their own laws and go out and enforce them with armed federal agents is another matter.

“So many of the regulations that can be enforced at the point of a gun have almost nothing to do with what people would normally call dangerous crime. That would be the kind of thing where you might want armed agents there,” said Burrus. “And especially coming from agencies such as the EPA and other agencies that are more quality-of-life agencies dealing with regulatory infractions rather than involved in solving real crimes.”

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency raided a number of small auto shops across the country for allegedly selling equipment that helped car owners circumvent emissions regulations. The auto shop owners say that the emissions equipment they were installing was part of the process of turning street-legal cars into vehicles that are solely dedicated to being used on racetracks—an activity that’s not necessarily illegal.

“It was 12 armed federal agents, and they had little EPA badges on and everything,” John Lund, the owner of Lund Racing in West Chester, Pennsylvania, told the Washington Examiner. “They had a search warrant for conspiracy to sell defeat devices. They basically went around the building, and they did forensics—physical forensics, digital forensics on the laptops, and we were compliant. ”

The EPA’s aggressive enforcement of emissions standards for race cars, resulting in most civil fines, prompted Republican Rep. Patrick Henry of North Carolina to introduce the RPM Act (short for Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act) to clarify the legality of emissions rules on race cars. The bill attracted 133 co-sponsors, including 30 Democrats.

Critics say allowing federal agencies to perform their own law enforcement removes an important layer of accountability that existed when unarmed federal investigators were forced to cooperate with local authorities.

The biggest scandal in higher education is lowering the bar

A NYU professor was fired after 82 of his 350 students complained that his class was too difficult.
When it comes to higher education, there is no shortage of scandals, but perhaps the biggest scandal is how colleges and universities lower academic standards to match the proficiency levels of today’s student population. When professors lower standards, we are diminishing the quality of education, cheapening our own profession, and betraying the core mission of academia — to transmit knowledge, foster critical thinking, and prepare students for the professional world that awaits them.

Recently, New York University announced that it would not be renewing Professor Maitland Jones Jr.’s contract. Professor Jones believes he was terminated after 82 of his 350 students signed a petition stating that the course was too difficult and that he was responsible for their failing grades.

According to the students, “a class with such a high percentage of withdrawals and low grades has failed to make students’ learning and well-being a priority.” NYU’s decision reflects a growing body of evidence that students view professors as nothing more than customer service representatives, and they believe academic standards should be pushed aside to promote “equity” and placate a fragile student population. In Professor Jones’s case, it appears that faculty are no longer in charge of their classrooms as the ever-growing number of administrators seek to usurp their authority.

While Professor Jones’s case is highly disturbing, even more disturbing are the recent trends in education as a whole. A Wall Street Journal study found that at least one-third of college seniors were unable to develop a cohesive argument, identify quality evidence, and interpret data. The study also found that students graduating from prestigious universities have little to no improvement in their ability to think critically.