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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Local Government and General Government

Local rule and general government are two different things. Local government is specific to neighborhoods, settlements, workplaces, small numbers of people and folks who all know each other. All other government is general Government. Direct democracy is possible at the local level. It is absurd, or impractical, when dealing with large numbers of people. Most forms of government can be made to work at the local level. Indeed the survival of a local people is contingent on how well they govern themselves. In the United States we advertise ourselves as democratic, but we don't practice functional local government well. And we suffer as a result. Other countries don't either, but that doesn't mean we can't do better.

Local government should be a right, a duty, something entitled by our national charter and integrated with general rule. And the same should be true with General Rule. The Founders did not envision States and Federal Government in constant opposition when they setup our National Charter.

Both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the Federalist Papers saw the relationship of the Federal Government to the States to be envisioned as analogous to that of the States to the Counties. For example Madison says in Federalist 46:

"The States will be to the latter [Federal Government] what counties and towns are to the former [State Government]." [Fed 46]

Hamilton, likewise assumed integration and collaboration as necessary for good information transmission. Hamilton Notes in Federalist 36:

"If any question is depending in a State legislature respecting one of the counties, which demands a knowledge of local details, how is it acquired? No doubt from the information of the members of the county. Cannot the like knowledge be obtained in the national legislature from the representatives of each State?" [Fed 36]

General Government

As noted, local Government is neighborhood, settlement, village. All other government is general government. Towns, Villages, Cities, Counties, cities. They are all forms of general government. A well formed government employs the principle of subsidiarity to decision making, but also oversees, guides and harmonizes local function through collaborative general government.

Unfortunately to a certain extent most general governments usurp and oppress local government rather than supporting and succoring its success. For piratical government, the best government is that run by fellow pirates. It is this that is why many people hate "Gubbornment" --> they are thinking of bureaucratic no-knowthings who try to tell them how to govern themselves, or worse piratical barons who extract wealth from them and give nothing back. So it is that with bad government, when we give local power to locals, it is usually to the local pirates; landlords, greedy business owners, speculators, but not the workers, farmers, or even considering wives and children who have a stake in a local government too.

Looting Resources Versus Governing them

For the sake of piratical govenrment our governing officers often not only oppress local government, but often also oppress the most local expressions of general government. It is easier to tell people what to do than to ask their opinion and give them advice. Or genuinely listen to them.

This is precisely because the very conservative principle of [democratic] subsidiarity is true. The people closest to a resource ARE the best people to manage that resource. No one loots a resource if it is well managed with an eye to the future. Looting reflects the opposite point of view from managing them for the long haul. A looter goes into a gold mine with a ton of mercury or cyanide, mines the material to separate out the gold and contaminates everything around or downstream of the mine. Such miners, extract what they can and leave town. Hence the term for such business is grifting -- which is an amalgram of graft and drift to refer to swindlers who extract what they want and then move on.

Short term thinking extractors get away from the problems they cause as soon as they can. The problem is now "downstream" from him. Not his (or hers). Such people may talk local rule, but their attitude is a grifter/pirate attitude. Once the mine is played out, no one else will be able to use it unless they invest suddenly rare resources to the job.

A well governed Gold mine would be run for the long haul. Gold found with copper becomes a copper mine. A Gold mine that is well governed can be a resource over a long time. The mine itself can grow mushrooms once the gold is gone. Meanwhile resources that are poisonous would be sequestered, protected from spillage and reused, or rendered harmless, so that they don't cause trouble downstream or poison the workers, wives, children, mine owners.

Such grifters infuse our Grand Old Pirates party, which like the Tory party of Britain, depend on fear-mongering, nativism and trickery to treat government as a privateering opportunity to gain such loot and then move on. If you or I became pirates we'd get hanged. However, privateers have a license to loot, and tend to hang those who resist them. Fracking as a method of extraction is similar to Gold extraction. In theory it could be done with minimal harm to the environment, but in reality, "who cares?!" Our foreign policy exports such grifting. We did it to the Russians and now are employing them to loot some more back home [see Oligarch Post ]. There is an alternative to such looting. But those seeking great wealth and privilege don't really want to respect the commons or other people.

Elinore Ostrom

Elinore Ostrom presented an alternative to such governance. In her research and writings she determined that we humans are not "trapped and helpless amid diminishing supplies. We can take charge of our communities, with the right guidance and if we don't have outside interference. All this starts with collaborative government, and empowering local self government. Ultimately it starts with US citizens being self governing.

Further Reading:

http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/11/elinor-ostrom-and-her-8-principles-of.html
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2017/03/we-gave-russians-oligarchs-now-they-are.html

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