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My government theory in a nutshell...





Moonspider
I was having a discussion with one of my best friends who just happens to be far more liberal than I am (which is probably why my former girlfriend married him instead of me Wink) when I realized that I had voiced my theory of government in it's simplest form. So I thought I'd post it here for discussion if anyone so desired:

If the city can deal with and handle the issue/problem without it impacting other county citizens, the county has no business getting involved.
If the county can deal with and handle the issue/problem without impacting other counties, the state has no business getting involved.
If the state can deal with and handle the issue/problem without impacting other states, the federal government has no business getting involved.

That's it (as far as government involvement is considered). Minimalist government functioning at the lowest possible level. I think if we applied such an idea we could reduce the size of federal and state governments substantially! (And no fair using some obtuse line of reasoning to define the meaning of "impact!")

Respectfully,
M
Bikerman
I see no problems with that. It is a limited form of anarchy (anarcho-syndicalism), but could also be categorised as 'liberal', 'conservative' or any number of competing philosophies (even communist). What you are describing is devolution - a principle which many political philosophies share.

PS -The point you missed was;
"If an individual can deal with and handle the issue/problem without it impacting other citizens, then nobody has any business getting involved."

PPS - The whole debate is then around the definition of 'impact', so you can't really rule it unfair Smile
Moonspider
Bikerman wrote:
I see no problems with that. It is a limited form of anarchy (anarcho-syndicalism), but could also be categorised as 'liberal', 'conservative' or any number of competing philosophies (even communist). What you are describing is devolution - a principle which many political philosophies share.

PS -The point you missed was;
"If an individual can deal with and handle the issue/problem without it impacting other citizens, then nobody has any business getting involved."


Yes, I did neglect to include that.

Bikerman wrote:
PPS - The whole debate is then around the definition of 'impact', so you can't really rule it unfair Smile


You're right of course! Lawyers... Very Happy

R,
M
Bikerman
Nice to see you back posting MS....I've missed you.
deanhills
Moonspider wrote:
I was having a discussion with one of my best friends who just happens to be far more liberal than I am (which is probably why my former girlfriend married him instead of me Wink) when I realized that I had voiced my theory of government in it's simplest form. So I thought I'd post it here for discussion if anyone so desired:

If the city can deal with and handle the issue/problem without it impacting other county citizens, the county has no business getting involved.
If the county can deal with and handle the issue/problem without impacting other counties, the state has no business getting involved.
If the state can deal with and handle the issue/problem without impacting other states, the federal government has no business getting involved.

That's it (as far as government involvement is considered). Minimalist government functioning at the lowest possible level. I think if we applied such an idea we could reduce the size of federal and state governments substantially! (And no fair using some obtuse line of reasoning to define the meaning of "impact!")

Respectfully,
M
I am also in favour of minimalist government, however am at the same time sceptical as perhaps this is only possible in a perfect world with perfect citizens? So what would happen if you have a few cities in the county, and some cities can handle the issue, others can't, also some are borderline? What definition would one have to have of "can handle the issue" to either be left alone by the county, or assisted? Wouldn't it presume some presence of the county in the cities to ensure the "can handle the issue" is present in order not to interfere with it, and may that perhaps present a conflict in its own right since the city may differ with the county's perspectives?
Ophois
I like the philosophy put forth in the OP, for the most part.
Minimalist, yet efficient, is what I think most people prefer. Only politicians like a big government.

I really hate delving into the "impact" argument, as it tends to become heated debate with no side giving any compromise, and both sides just nit picking details for the sake of argument-winning.
I will let someone else start that snowball.
Moonspider
Bikerman wrote:
Nice to see you back posting MS....I've missed you.


Thank you. I’ve missed you too.

I’m trying! With civilian and military work, a family, friends, other endeavors, school (I thought at some point I could stop attending grad schools!) finding time to post can be difficult. But I enjoy it and the people here. So endeavor I shall.

deanhills wrote:
I am also in favour of minimalist government, however am at the same time sceptical as perhaps this is only possible in a perfect world with perfect citizens? So what would happen if you have a few cities in the county, and some cities can handle the issue, others can't, also some are borderline?


In such cases the next level of government handles the issue. I suppose however that if cities within the county are able to deal with it themselves without impacting other cities, then they might elect to do so without county involvement. That being said, if the county must get involved, they may want to get involved in all cities for purposes of standardization or to alleviate confusion, etc., depending on the issue.

deanhills wrote:
What definition would one have to have of "can handle the issue" to either be left alone by the county, or assisted? Wouldn't it presume some presence of the county in the cities to ensure the "can handle the issue" is present in order not to interfere with it, and may that perhaps present a conflict in its own right since the city may differ with the county's perspectives?


Ah, yes, inevitably conflicts arise over power, jurisdiction, definitions, “impact”, just as they do today. Like any governmental system of sufficient size one must deal with a lot of legal minutiae that inevitably evolves over time.

On your first note, I would hope that in a perfect world with perfect citizens, no government would be necessary!

Respectfully,
M
Bikerman
Well, let's develop it.
One could argue that the 'better' democratic systems already aspire to a high level of devolution. Local taxation for local services for example. Local councils and districts deciding on local planning applications, licensing applications, provision of services etc.

So, to address this practically, we have to look at those things which are currently decided at a higher (state or national) level and say which ones we think could and should be devolved to a lower level.
Any takers?
I'm going to play devil's advocate and defend the status quo (despite the fact that I have previously argued for exactly this sort of anarcho-syndicalist approach).
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:

PS -The point you missed was;
"If an individual can deal with and handle the issue/problem without it impacting other citizens, then nobody has any business getting involved."

If I wasn't busy this weekend, I would have said that myself...
Bikerman wrote:

So, to address this practically, we have to look at those things which are currently decided at a higher (state or national) level and say which ones we think could and should be devolved to a lower level.
Any takers?
I'm going to play devil's advocate and defend the status quo (despite the fact that I have previously argued for exactly this sort of anarcho-syndicalist approach).

Well, let's see...

Health care for starters... At least until it becomes clear which type of program works best, and even then, it would probably be better to let more local governments adapt that perfect plan to their own jurisdictions voluntarily.

Oh, here's a fun one; what if immigration rules were decided on a more local level...

And, of course, the whole high-speed rail idea should be local, not federal. (As well as a few other subsidized mass-transit and communication systems.)


Of course, I would relegate every government function to the individual, if possible, leaving the government only as an institution to prevent its citizens from being harmed by other citizens, or by other countries.
deanhills
Moonspider wrote:
On your first note, I would hope that in a perfect world with perfect citizens, no government would be necessary!
Right. That would be awesome. Maybe we won't need to fill in forms in triplicate anymore, and taxes will be much simpler too. Maybe Government would be automatically able to deduct it from the top of people's salaries. List of infinite possibilities. Think Smile
Ophois
deanhills wrote:
Right. That would be awesome. Maybe we won't need to fill in forms in triplicate anymore, and taxes will be much simpler too. Maybe Government would be automatically able to deduct it from the top of people's salaries. List of infinite possibilities.
In a perfect world with no government, wouldn't taxes be kind of a moot point? And salaries, for that matter. If we are talking about a truly perfect world, people would just help each other and do what needs to be done, not because of monetary gain.
But that's a bit off topic.
My first big change with government would be salary.
What motivates the government to make my life better? If their livelihood was tied to mine, I am certain there would be a much bigger effort on their part to do what needs to be done in order to raise the standard of living for the average American. For instance:
Quote:
The current salary (2009) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.
http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm

While on the other hand:
Quote:
Real median household income in the United States climbed 1.3 percent between 2006 and 2007, reaching $50,233
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/012528.html

So the average member of the House/Senate earns over three times as much as the average American household. Not citizen, household. What if the salaries of these government employees were based on the "real median household income"? Why should they be doing over three times better in the paycheck department, when the nation is clearly hurting for money? If they were to be earning as much as Joe Blow, I think a couple things would happen. First, many of them would no longer work in government, leaving only those who feel a duty to public service in office. Secondly, with their income tied to yours and mine, they would be working much harder to make sure you and I have a better shot at getting our slice of the proverbial pie, thereby upping their own chances at wealth. And third, paying these people less than a third of what they earn now, we could put a whole lot more money into health care, deficit recovery, public works, education, etc.
I know it's flawed, I don't claim to be a political genius, but I think something along these lines would be a nice start.
deanhills
Ophois wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Right. That would be awesome. Maybe we won't need to fill in forms in triplicate anymore, and taxes will be much simpler too. Maybe Government would be automatically able to deduct it from the top of people's salaries. List of infinite possibilities.
In a perfect world with no government, wouldn't taxes be kind of a moot point? And salaries, for that matter. If we are talking about a truly perfect world, people would just help each other and do what needs to be done, not because of monetary gain.
Very good point. There would also be absolute trust. A list of infinite possibilities. One could probably write a book about this. Didn't Plato try something like that in "The Republic"?
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Health care for starters... At least until it becomes clear which type of program works best, and even then, it would probably be better to let more local governments adapt that perfect plan to their own jurisdictions voluntarily.
Not sure how that could work. The plans I have seen are for compulsory health insurance - paid for by the Government if the person cannot afford it. Are you suggesting that states, or even districts, should provide that health insurance? If they did then the money would still, surely, have to come from the Federal budget, so I don't really see the point.
Quote:
Oh, here's a fun one; what if immigration rules were decided on a more local level...
Can't see how that could work either. You don't migrate to a state - you migrate to a country. Once you have US citizenship you can go where you like. Immigrants would simply pick the state with the 'easiest' requirements and move once they were 'in'.
Quote:
And, of course, the whole high-speed rail idea should be local, not federal. (As well as a few other subsidized mass-transit and communication systems.)
And I can't see how that could possibly work, unless your aim is to produce a load of incompatible local networks. This is what happened in the UK in the early days of trains - lots of independant companies building on their 'turf'. The result was a system of local lines that could not be linked because the rail gauges were different, as was the rolling stock.
Surely the whole point of a high-speed rail network is that it crosses states?
Nick2008
I think it's a great idea but when do we draw the line of what the city/county/state can or cannot handle? I mean we'll undoubtedly end up having cities handling things that they should not have handled in the first place. But if everything was engraved in stone, including what can or cannot be handled, how to contact the higher level of authority (I can image contacting the federal level would be harder than a city to county).

It's sort of like the workplace where you have job ranks, the higher your rank, the more tasks you may have to assume for the ranks under you.

So the county has authority over the county and it's cities, but not the state.

The federal level has authority of all the states, counties, cities.

The state has authority over the state and all it's counties and cities, but not the federal level.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Health care for starters... At least until it becomes clear which type of program works best, and even then, it would probably be better to let more local governments adapt that perfect plan to their own jurisdictions voluntarily.
Not sure how that could work. The plans I have seen are for compulsory health insurance - paid for by the Government if the person cannot afford it. Are you suggesting that states, or even districts, should provide that health insurance? If they did then the money would still, surely, have to come from the Federal budget, so I don't really see the point.

The districts without money to spare would have to either get more money, or adopt a system that accomplishes the goal without significant dipping into state coffers.
The point of this competitive system would be that some districts would notice the more efficient programs of their neighbors, and adopt those instead to save money. The trend would be towards programs that accomplish the goal of getting health care to people with better efficiency, eventually working towards nearly every district having one of a few varieties of plans that work very well. How's that for reducing health care costs?
Bikerman wrote:

Quote:
Oh, here's a fun one; what if immigration rules were decided on a more local level...
Can't see how that could work either. You don't migrate to a state - you migrate to a country. Once you have US citizenship you can go where you like. Immigrants would simply pick the state with the 'easiest' requirements and move once they were 'in'.

An ideal solution! The main problem with immigration as it is now is how difficult it is. If states are competing to make their state the easiest to immigrate to, there will be motivation to make the process quick and easy.
Bikerman wrote:

Quote:
And, of course, the whole high-speed rail idea should be local, not federal. (As well as a few other subsidized mass-transit and communication systems.)
And I can't see how that could possibly work, unless your aim is to produce a load of incompatible local networks. This is what happened in the UK in the early days of trains - lots of independant companies building on their 'turf'. The result was a system of local lines that could not be linked because the rail gauges were different, as was the rolling stock.
Surely the whole point of a high-speed rail network is that it crosses states?

Yes, states would have to cooperate with each other, but it doesn't require the cooperation of (or funding from) all the states.
Moonspider
Ophois wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Right. That would be awesome. Maybe we won't need to fill in forms in triplicate anymore, and taxes will be much simpler too. Maybe Government would be automatically able to deduct it from the top of people's salaries. List of infinite possibilities.
In a perfect world with no government, wouldn't taxes be kind of a moot point? And salaries, for that matter. If we are talking about a truly perfect world, people would just help each other and do what needs to be done, not because of monetary gain.
But that's a bit off topic.
My first big change with government would be salary.
What motivates the government to make my life better? If their livelihood was tied to mine, I am certain there would be a much bigger effort on their part to do what needs to be done in order to raise the standard of living for the average American. For instance:
Quote:
The current salary (2009) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.
http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm

While on the other hand:
Quote:
Real median household income in the United States climbed 1.3 percent between 2006 and 2007, reaching $50,233
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/012528.html

So the average member of the House/Senate earns over three times as much as the average American household. Not citizen, household. What if the salaries of these government employees were based on the "real median household income"? Why should they be doing over three times better in the paycheck department, when the nation is clearly hurting for money? If they were to be earning as much as Joe Blow, I think a couple things would happen. First, many of them would no longer work in government, leaving only those who feel a duty to public service in office. Secondly, with their income tied to yours and mine, they would be working much harder to make sure you and I have a better shot at getting our slice of the proverbial pie, thereby upping their own chances at wealth. And third, paying these people less than a third of what they earn now, we could put a whole lot more money into health care, deficit recovery, public works, education, etc.
I know it's flawed, I don't claim to be a political genius, but I think something along these lines would be a nice start.


I disagree here based upon my philosophy of why a government must exist in the first place. IMHO, a government does not exist to “make my life better.” It exists to insure that all people are treated fairly and that they are provided equal opportunities, to protect them (but not provide for them), and to do those things collectively that citizens or smaller, subsidiary governments cannot do for themselves, or cannot do as efficiently. If my life completely sucks (broke, homeless, can’t find work, etc.), I have no reason to complain about the government provided it meets those requirements I mentioned above. Everything else is my personal responsibility. That’s the price of freedom and liberty. The amount of freedom and liberty you have is directly proportional to the amount of personal responsibility you have. The more responsibility you grant to a government, the less freedom and liberty you have to exercise.

Government provided comfort comes with a freedom and/or liberty price tag.

ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:

So, to address this practically, we have to look at those things which are currently decided at a higher (state or national) level and say which ones we think could and should be devolved to a lower level.
Any takers?
I'm going to play devil's advocate and defend the status quo (despite the fact that I have previously argued for exactly this sort of anarcho-syndicalist approach).

Well, let's see...

Health care for starters... At least until it becomes clear which type of program works best, and even then, it would probably be better to let more local governments adapt that perfect plan to their own jurisdictions voluntarily.


I’m not sure about that one. Currently we already forbid insurance companies from competing across state borders. Some standardization might be good on a national level, along with a free market across states. I could understand the need for some form of regulation at a federal level.

ocalhoun wrote:
Oh, here's a fun one; what if immigration rules were decided on a more local level...


I have to disagree with that as well. Immigration policy should be determined at the national level since we’re talking about citizenship in the country, not just the state or province.

ocalhoun wrote:
And, of course, the whole high-speed rail idea should be local, not federal. (As well as a few other subsidized mass-transit and communication systems.)


I’m not trying to be a naysayer, but I must disagree here too. Mass transit systems that move people and freight across state lines must be standardized. One of the problems the Confederacy had in the War Between the States is that states were allowed to regulate rail systems within their borders, and a mixed batch of gauges sprang up across the South. This required freight or people to be moved from one train to another when crossing state lines, and made transporting military supplies and forces grossly inefficient during the war. Rail system gauges were standardized in the North.

ocalhoun wrote:
Of course, I would relegate every government function to the individual, if possible, leaving the government only as an institution to prevent its citizens from being harmed by other citizens, or by other countries.


I agree that, as much as practical, responsibility should be pushed to the lowest possible level. Many businesses try to do this now to increase efficiencies and give employees a sense of ownership in the process and company. If you push decision-making to the floor-level hourly employees, a company can run a lot leaner in middle management, as an example.

As for me, I’ll start with one department, education. Perhaps it should not be eliminated entirely. The United States could continue to provide federal grants, guaranteed loans, etc., for example. However I believe states could (even should) effectively manage their respective public education systems without federal support or influence.

My apologies to you, Chris, since we seem to be using the United States as the example in our discussion. Sorry for the colonial centricity!

Respectfully,
M
Ophois
Moonspider wrote:
IMHO, a government does not exist to “make my life better.” It exists to insure that all people are treated fairly and that they are provided equal opportunities
I absolutely agree, and I don't think a government should exist solely "to make my life better" either. But you speak of fair treatment and equal opportunities. Congress gets an automatic, no-vote, no-debate, "cost of living" raise(this year it was $4,700, costing taxpayers about $2.5million). They actually have to put specific legislation in action in order to not get the raise(to my knowledge, they have never voted against it). That's far from fair, and it's definitely not an opportunity that the rest of us have.
Quote:
to protect them (but not provide for them), and to do those things collectively that citizens or smaller, subsidiary governments cannot do for themselves, or cannot do as efficiently. If my life completely sucks (broke, homeless, can’t find work, etc.), I have no reason to complain about the government provided it meets those requirements I mentioned above. Everything else is my personal responsibility. That’s the price of freedom and liberty. The amount of freedom and liberty you have is directly proportional to the amount of personal responsibility you have. The more responsibility you grant to a government, the less freedom and liberty you have to exercise.

Government provided comfort comes with a freedom and/or liberty price tag.
This response has nothing to do with my post. I never condoned or even mentioned "government provided comfort" for citizens. Conversely, I certainly don't condone government provided comfort unequally in favor of government employees(which is what I was saying). That road goes both ways. They should only be able to earn what they are worth, and what they are willing to work for, just like you and I. Basing their salary on the median income(or some other standard) would force them to do better.
Letting them set their own salary, and watching them earn, individually, more than three times what the average household makes, even though they constantly do a horrible job, is neither fair nor equal.
Quote:
"Members of Congress have the only job in the country whose occupants can set their own salary without regard to performance, profit, or economic climate," said Tom Schatz, president of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste in a press release. "Clearly, members must think that money grows on trees. With a $480 billion deficit, the escalating cost of the war in Iraq, and a stagnant economy, Congress should be curbing spending, not lining their pockets at our expense."(2003)
http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/agencies/a/raise4congress.htm
Bikerman
Moonspider wrote:
As for me, I’ll start with one department, education. Perhaps it should not be eliminated entirely. The United States could continue to provide federal grants, guaranteed loans, etc., for example. However I believe states could (even should) effectively manage their respective public education systems without federal support or influence.
Well, that is actually what goes on here in the UK to a large extent, and I thought that was what went on in the US. Don't the local school boards/districts control the schools?
As for central influence - well here I disagree. I think that there are some things which have to come 'centrally'. The reality is that the cost of education is largely met from the central pot, so surely the central authorities should have some say? If individual states want to implement particular educational initiatives then fine - but they can't, surely, then expect the general tax payer to finance it, with no say?
The alternative would be to delegate the financing of schools to district level. I'm not at all sure that this would work, based on my knowledge of our systems here, but I'm willing to consider arguments...
My basic objection would be that you would have to reform the tax system for this to work. At the moment (if I understand correctly) then most of the tax paid is via central income tax. You would therefore have to shift this to local taxation. Now, we already have local taxation to pay for rubbish collection and other local services here in the UK (we call it the 'council tax'), but you would have to go much further in order to allow the financing for major public services such as education. The problem would then be that some districts don't have enough people to pay enough taxes to support high quality services. In the UK that is a problem in the more 'remote' areas in Scotland and Wales, to pick two examples. In the US I would imagine that this problem would be much bigger.....
Quote:
My apologies to you, Chris, since we seem to be using the United States as the example in our discussion. Sorry for the colonial centricity!
Well, that is always going to be an issue in this debate. I am certainly not an expert on US systems of governance, so I will simply ask you to correct any mistakes I might make as a result of ignorance of your systems. (After all, one can't be expected to be an expert in all one's ex colonies) Smile
bigt
Moonspider wrote:
I was having a discussion with one of my best friends who just happens to be far more liberal than I am (which is probably why my former girlfriend married him instead of me Wink) when I realized that I had voiced my theory of government in it's simplest form. So I thought I'd post it here for discussion if anyone so desired:

If the city can deal with and handle the issue/problem without it impacting other county citizens, the county has no business getting involved.
If the county can deal with and handle the issue/problem without impacting other counties, the state has no business getting involved.
If the state can deal with and handle the issue/problem without impacting other states, the federal government has no business getting involved.

That's it (as far as government involvement is considered). Minimalist government functioning at the lowest possible level. I think if we applied such an idea we could reduce the size of federal and state governments substantially! (And no fair using some obtuse line of reasoning to define the meaning of "impact!")

Respectfully,
M


You're friend(s) should listen to you. I believe this is basically what the founders had in mind. We need to get back to their (and your) original philosophy.
Moonspider
Bikerman wrote:
Moonspider wrote:
As for me, I’ll start with one department, education. Perhaps it should not be eliminated entirely. The United States could continue to provide federal grants, guaranteed loans, etc., for example. However I believe states could (even should) effectively manage their respective public education systems without federal support or influence.
Well, that is actually what goes on here in the UK to a large extent, and I thought that was what went on in the US. Don't the local school boards/districts control the schools?
As for central influence - well here I disagree. I think that there are some things which have to come 'centrally'. The reality is that the cost of education is largely met from the central pot, so surely the central authorities should have some say? If individual states want to implement particular educational initiatives then fine - but they can't, surely, then expect the general tax payer to finance it, with no say?
The alternative would be to delegate the financing of schools to district level. I'm not at all sure that this would work, based on my knowledge of our systems here, but I'm willing to consider arguments...
My basic objection would be that you would have to reform the tax system for this to work. At the moment (if I understand correctly) then most of the tax paid is via central income tax. You would therefore have to shift this to local taxation. Now, we already have local taxation to pay for rubbish collection and other local services here in the UK (we call it the 'council tax'), but you would have to go much further in order to allow the financing for major public services such as education. The problem would then be that some districts don't have enough people to pay enough taxes to support high quality services. In the UK that is a problem in the more 'remote' areas in Scotland and Wales, to pick two examples. In the US I would imagine that this problem would be much bigger.....


Sorry for the late reply. (Preparing for a final exam paper.)

I actually had to do a little research, and after doing so must recant my idea to eliminate the Department of Education. The price tag is simply too small to worry about. The U.S. federal government provides about 8.5% of the total funding for public education in the United States ($37.5 billion) according to the National Center for Education Statistics (2002-2003 school year. Table 1 at http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/pubs/npefs03/tables.asp) The 2010 budget request for the DOE is only about $60 billion total, not including salaries for staffing which is less than $5MM. In all, pocket change in the grand scheme of things.

I would be interested in new ways of distributing the money, such as tying funding to the individual students. If the student moves, the money goes with him/her to their next school. I believe this is common in some places in Europe.

Respectfully,
M
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