Saturday, July 02, 2011

An Extrapolation of Future Government

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."  -Henry David Thoreau from Walden

To piggy back on April's earlier post on the States' rights, I wanted to give a hypothetical breakdown of how I see a balanced Federal to State relationship, and which roles relegate to which body.  I hope she will add her own breakdown that I know she has been working on, because it lead to a lot of important questions regarding what situations were truly worthy of legislation and which were issues for neighbors to figure out.  One example being abortion: is it necessary that there be laws prescribed (yes, in this muddled, health insurance insanity coupled with tsunamis of ideologues, it is), but to get meta for a second, is it really the arena of law in which the abortion debate belongs?  

However, toss that aside for the time being, and consider with me the categorization of State versus Federal responsibility, not forgetting personal or civic responsibility.  For this breakdown I am going to leave out all moral conjecture.  How I see the federal government is as a service provider.  In the most utilitarian sense our federal government should be beaurocratic, stoic, and generous in its output relative to the nation's capacity for input.  In contrast, I see the State government as more organic or vibrant.  However, to make it perfectly clear how I think the two bodies of government should operate, I will just bullet-point concrete social issues.  Of course, I don't mean this to be comprehensive, and hope to further the open dialog I am already late in attending. 

State Government Hypo:

  • Health care (need assessed at city level, escalated to State, then escalated to Federal; Fed pays but each state only funded according to need; ensures that tax revenues are distributed efficiently)  
  • Agriculture (State oversees land usage to ensure sustainable practices and ecologically responsible land use; this is done already to some measure, but can be expanded; creates many sustainable jobs)
  • State provides local businesses priority leases, land acquisition and funding, discourages national chains (there would still be an Uptown Minneapolis worth going to if this were current policy)
  • Civil dispute resolution (small claims court, civil court)
  • *Emergency Response (state leaders assess primary and secondary concerns regarding flooding, large (forest) fires, earthquakes, etc) *Fed has emergency response obligations too, different scenarios
  • Troopers (already in place)
  • Bridges, local roads and state highways (already in place, if not woefully inept)

Quick disambiguation: All tax payers would pay into a single payer health care fund similar to medicaid, yet eliminating medicaid since the single payer system covers every last citizen, but the Fed doesn't decide how much funding goes where, the States tell the Fed, based on what county officials relay from reports given by each City.  Any excess funds are returned to the tax payer just as today in a tax refund.  This also allows for quick fiscal response to dynamic populations that may flux over a twelve month period, such as Madison, WI or Boston, MA.  The state oversees agriculture and uses a team of experts to survey and recommend crops appropriate to local soils and climate, protects wild-life preserves, State parks, wild game, rivers, lakes and beaches, water treatment, farming practices, and as I noted above, some of this is already done by the State as it is, but it could be easily expanded and it's affordable under this streamlined model.  Where I am sure to run into much ballyhoo is the notion of State governments actively shunning national (or even state-wide) franchises in favor of hyper-local community owned businesses.  Those people probably think they're important. 

Federal Government Hypo:

  • Guarantees that every town, city, county, state is connected in every meaningful way (this includes national highways, high-speed rail, flight and internet)
  • Emergency response (national guard, some revision of FEMA, defense, etc)
  • Provides states with best practices for anything, as it tracks innovations state to state and recommends State level implementation of programs that achieve success in other States)
  • Air quality
  • Patents and Copyrights
  • Census
  • Foreign Diplomacy
  • National defense
  • Supreme Court, State to State dispute resolution

See how I didn't say Warmongering Military Complex?  I don't think the Federal government should EVER have the right to War without a popular vote with full transparency and accountability.  Notice how I left all popular social issues out of the realm of government?  That is because I fully believe in the government of a Democracy being an unfeeling, bureaucratic service provider.  Americans seem to have a "Mommy and Daddy will fix this" attitude, which means that We the People are at least WHOLLY to blame for the conundrums we now face, seeing as corrupt politicians and sleezy greedbags also come from We the People.  This is why you can't have government intervention in social issues unless a sound legal suit is brought to the courts. The bedrock of civic responsibility; the code we hold each other to but never talk about, is distorted by the fighting and infighting that degenerate our national teams, cliques and cults. Each have their own vocabulary and rites of passage, and none seem willing to talk honestly with each other or cooperate for the greater good.  Freedom can mean chaos, when you really think of it. Anarchists everywhere probably loathe the confusion between Anarchy and chaos, but whatever.  The point is: if we take the loophole of social-issue based politics out, we eliminate the potential for spin, deceit, pandering and the like... replacing it with a more private sector model: a candidate gets screened, interviewed, hired, and possibly fired.  Performance based government, not rhetorically based tomfoolery.  

This is a redundant sentiment for thinkers: but we have been told to fear everything, and it worked by putting us in a nationalistic trance.  Granted, many of us are beginning to wake up and cry, but the masses are still a-whirl.  Maybe we should all start writing our own Walden's, just as Thoreau did, by living them.