Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Something I've been thinking about....(gov't consolidation)

Today's WSJ has an interesting article about how the governor of Michigan is pushing Michigan municipalities to consolidate. His point is that his state doesn't need 1,800 different units of government in the state. He isn't trying to consolidate the power in his office, but rather just trying to reduce the cost of government. (How many accounting departments are needed in Michigan, for example.)

(here comes a rant)

I've been thinking about this same thing since hearing that here in Virginia, county lines were originally drawn in the 1600's based on how far one could ride on a horse in one day. This makes for counties with ginormous populations (Fairfax, with 1.1M people) and tiny populations (Highland County, with just 2,510 people, which is adjacent to a county with only 4,500 people.) Now that we've drive cars instead of horses, shouldn't we reinvent the definition of a county?

I see the potential efficiencies, but it turns out they are overstated or illusory. (See the financial detail in the WSJ article.)

Local governance is always best, and highly appreciated by most, as the WSJ article describes that only 27 of 105 consolidation ballot initiatives have passed in the last 100 years.

I mention this issue as I think there's a lot of lessons for us to apply in other policy areas. In this era of progressivism, there are a never ending stream of new top-level (often Federal) policies, plans, or departments to instigate a desired change propelled by the efficiency argument. Two quick examples - among many - are the Obamacare iniitative and the entire Department of Education.

In both cases, local control is being subsumed by progressive programs, with the sponsors saying not only do they know what's best for you, but they can apply their brilliance more inexpensively than the local solution. Unfortunately, as the consolidation example illustrates, the reality is that the plans are rarely better, and seldom economicaly beneficial. Think about that the next time someone in a faraway place comes along with a plan to cure whatever ill is on the front page of the papers.

(rant over)

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
Click to go to my online photography

World sun clock

Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous