It’s Time to Focus on Localism, Decentralization and Community
It’s Time to Focus on Localism, Decentralization and Community by Michael Krieger – Liberty Blitzkrieg
TDC Note – We have all but stopped eating at any chain restaurant, even when we travel. If it’s not local, we don’t support them. Cracker Barrel is the only exception as it is local to our neighborhood, even though it is a massive chain, all the profits funnel back home. Next on our agenda is local farms / coop for the real thing.
Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity” to serve. You don’t have to know the Second Theory of Thermal Dynamics in Physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.
– From “The Drum Major Instinct”, a sermon by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968.
The following piece is based on a vision for the U.S., but I suspect the concepts apply equally to most nation-states encompassing large land masses and populations over a few million. Most of us have been conditioned to believe human life is best organized at scale. In other words, we’ve been convinced it’s best to have as many people as possible operating under a single overarching centralized government structure in charge of micromanaging society from the top down. I consider this paradigm outdated, unnatural and increasingly dangerous.
In the Western world, we tend to justify centralized superstates because they’re ostensibly based on democracy, but this doesn’t hold water for a variety of reasons. First, you’d have to be living under a rock to look at U.S. policy during the 21st century and think it reflects the “will of the people.”
Second, if you try to create one-size fits all solutions to problems in a geographically and culturally diverse nation of 325 million people, you tend to make everyone unhappy. This is particularly true within the extremely polarized political space that characterizes America in 2018. In such an environment, centering important decision-making in D.C. devolves into a national winner takes all battle between opposing forces fighting for the power to impose their vision on tens of millions of others who want nothing to do with it.
Third, when you overly centralize power you streamline systemic corruption. All the big money donors have to do is buy-off a few hundred representatives who conveniently all gather in the same place, far from their constituents, to pass legislation which is often written by lobbyists.
As such, my thesis is that centralized power in an unaccountable and exceedingly corrupt Washington D.C. is holding hundreds of millions of Americans back and preventing experimentation, self-government and responsibility on a more local level. Why do we accept a political world that makes corruption so easy and systemic in which tens of millions of people feel powerless and miserable every four to eight years? Why does power and politics have to be so binary and centralized? The answer is, it doesn’t.
The biggest pushback I get to my emphasis on localism is that state and local government is as corrupt as the federal government. I don’t dispute this in many instances, but I think there’s good reason for it. Most Americans who are politically active or engaged focus their efforts on national politics since that’s where all the big stuff happens, thus leaving very little time and energy for local issues and governance. If the decisions made in D.C. were less impactful to everyday life, many people would shift their energy toward local issues and community improvement, which in turn would make corruption and capture more difficult. If you could just forget about D.C. and spend all your energy on say, what’s going on in Dallas or Denver, do you think local decision-making and involvement would improve? I do.
Not only that, but it’s often the little things that only cities and neighborhoods can do for themselves that end up being most empowering, impactful and cost effective. Here’s just one small example highlighted in a recent article published at The Washington Post titled, When a City’s Trashy Lots Are Cleaned Up, Residents’ Mental Health Improves:
Vacant city lots with overgrown weeds and trash are ugly, for sure, but research shows there is yet another reason to clean them up and make them green: It lifts residents’ moods and feelings of self-worth, according to a new study.
The study, published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that when empty spaces in Philadelphia were improved – at a cost of between $1,000 to $3,000 per lot – there was a significant jump in overall mental health for nearby residents, particularly for those struggling economically.