This article is almost a year old but still holds some great thoughts...
Local Solutions to Common Dilemmas
By David Kretzmann on January 19th, 2010
Do people sometimes forget that we are all individuals with common goals, diverse circumstances, and unique perspectives? In many situations this is the case. The more governments, both local and national, expand in size and scope, the more politics become a game of winning and losing rather than representation of the people, providing individual freedom and choice, and encouraging local solutions and creativity. The world faces no shortages of problems, but the solution does not, as often believed, lie in continued centralized power of government, but increased freedom on a local level.
As centralized representatives are empowered with more responsibilities, their ability to directly and effectively represent their constituency decreases. Certainly it is more difficult to directly represent 200 million people than it is to represent 100 people. Such power maintained by a select few opens the door to lobbyists, special interests, and privileged groups who seek to grab a portion of that extraordinary power in order to gain an unnatural advantage over fellow individuals. In 2008 alone, 14,808 lobbyists contributed $3.3 billion to government. In such a scenario, who receives more direct treatment, the 14,808 lobbyists or 14,808 individual citizens? A large government is easily influenced not by individual citizens, but by large and privileged groups with the means to essentially bribe those in control, thus decreasing the power of individuals over our government. Central policies simply can’t represent the unique needs of local communities, towns, and counties.
As governments centralize and expand in power, the power and freedom of individuals decreases. It is not necessary to increase our individual abilities through a complex system managed by far-off politicians. In fact, all that is necessary is a simple concept that is commonly blurred or forgotten: freedom. Freedom is the only “system” that sees all individuals as naturally equal; freedom is based on individual, not central, power, and recognizes that we, the people, can solve our dilemmas free of constraint, force, and coercion. Freedom provides individuals the opportunity to keep the full fruits of their labor and appropriate their money to where they see fit, whether it be to the elderly, those in need of food, or any other service. The element of choice lies with the individual, not with the power of others. Simply put, when focusing on local solutions, individuals maintain far greater freedom and influence of participation, activism, and travel (voting with their feet), than they have in a strongly centralized system.
Individuals carry the greatest initiative, responsibility, and obligation over government in their counties, towns, communities, and neighborhoods. Things would appear much differently today if individual people, rather than federal officials and bureaucrats, were the driving force behind environmental, medical, and other policies. Chances are that many communities would oppose the opening of a nearby coalmine and would work together, as individuals, to find a cleaner, sustainable energy source. People will certainly feel a greater sense of charity and responsibility if they see or know people in their town who need but can’t afford health care. People are simply connected to something that they personally understand, see, and love, and will work together to protect and improve such a place. This is a basic world where solutions are based not on conflict and political gain, but community involvement and cooperation.
A locally managed government created to represent and serve the people fully can only function with an informed and active public. To do my own part in bringing this about, I developed Freedom Chatter in March 2009 with the slogan, “Involve, Interact, Inform.” Freedom Chatter is an ongoing project of mine with the objective to bring together a community of contributors and excited individuals eager to analyze all areas of business, economics, and public policy. Freedom Chatter recognizes the inherent qualities of human nature to be creative, diverse, and develop original ideas; it is unreasonable to expect everyone to subscribe to one viewpoint or ideology, whether it is on a local or national scale. By acknowledging the power and creativity each one of us carries locally as individuals and utilizing our ability to interact and inform, a rebirth in freedom, prosperity, and happiness is well within reach.