My Blog List

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We need local community government

Chris Hayes is talking about this general subject right now. In my previous posts I talked about how the facts and observations "Breaking glass" concept (corrupted by Giuliani & Law enforcement) as described in the Atlantic were actually pointing at the need for community policing And before that I've talked about the faulty theories in "Zero Tolerance" policies. But the article also describes the consequences of centralization we see with the Ferguson Murder by Cop incident. Paraphrase "police no longer know the people in the neighborhood." They may know the Church Pastor, the local stores. But they don't know the people. He's suggesting reforming the police, but he's pointing to the difficulty of policing in dangerous neighborhoods, and the Broken Glass story describes how lack of local order destroys neighborhoods. Peter Moskos writes a great book, but reforming the centralized police won't fix the problem. The problem is broader than policing. It is the fact that neighborhoods do not have an automatic right to self rule and an automatic right to representation in the general government. What is needed are local police. I'd even call them constables. We should have local watchmen and the police should be there to respond to calls and come when there is an emergency. We should have semi-volunteer watchmen in neighborhood funded by the city and the local neighborhood. Local neighborhoods need local "judge, jury, police and representation" with local posts where these attributes can be practiced and those local authorities need the power to keep order and represent the neighborhood. Not necessarily to make arrests or even carry a gun.

Local authorities aren't perfect either, and local general government is sometimes necessary to oversee such local government as is devoted to providing order and governing local communities. That general government is needed to provide oversight, guidance, discipline over misbehaving officials and appeal avenues, but they can't do that if they are also wearing local government hats. The conflicting demands of providing order and enforcing general laws creates built in conflicts that gets worked out either in weird legalistic behavior (such as claiming a girl bullied herself for not being willing to throw the book at the bullies under Zero tolerance laws. To deconflict this we need to recognize that local government is a right not a privilege for communities. Therefore it has to be enabled by the general government and the courts. We also have to realize that the principles of republicanism dictate we separate "judge, jury and executioner" roles, and never give them to a single individual by himself.


In Federalist 27 I find the term "Ordinary Magistry" employed at the end of his paper:

"The plan reported by the convention, by extending the authority of the federal head to the individual citizens of the several States, will enable the government to employ the ordinary magistracy of each, in the execution of its laws." [Federalist 27]

To me this indicates that at least one founder intended the constitution to be taken literally in it's guarantees of a "Republican Form of Government" to the States, and based on the principle invoked on a similar guarantee down to the local community. A state is not republican unless it's subdivisions are republican, and they are not republican unless they provide effective representation to the citizens of their subdivisions and that requires respecting local government. The principle of Subsidiarity is not explicit in the constitution but it appears that Hamilton at least assumed that the Federal Government would be collaborative and not duplicative or combative.

All this advocates for the reform of our government to more systematically represent communities bottom up, rather than provide eternal fighting between over-centralized State Governments and an over-centralized Federal Government bureaucracies. The answer to bad government is good government and our constitution embraced the principles it did because they are basic principles of good government.


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