Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Philosophizing on how the US should work

This is gonna by a kinda wonkish post, part of a series of topics I've been thinking about which represent somewhere between where we are now and what a more idea country would be. I don't know if this will be the last one, or even interesting to anyone, but since it's my blog, I'm going to dream on.

So my ideal country is founded on the basis of a few principles, but one of the most important is that the government should work for the benefit of the people, and not the other way around (as an aside, America was also founded this principle; I know, hard to believe in today's times, but look it up). One of the best ways to make sure that principle is preserved is to keep government local; it's much more difficult to feel like your government is a faceless, clueless entity abusing you for their own gain when it is made up of people you know and interact with. To that end, my ideal country has a couple of interesting differences from the US as we know it today.

First, elections would be done locally, for local governments. These people would then, in turn, elect positions for the next highest levels of government, all the way up to the federal elected positions (President and Congress). No more media-whoring popularity contests to determine the "rulers" of the country, where the outcome is based largely on who can come up with the most catchy quip, or spend the most money convincing the idiot masses that their insidious plans to abuse power are less bad then their opponent's insidious plans. Rather, at each level, the leaders are being elected by the people they will most directly interact with, with the people's votes simply weighted by the total number of people who elected them (including all indirect votes). As an added bonus, this also harnesses the power of greed for the benefit of the country: for example, the states are going to have a strong incentive to elect people who oppose more federal government control over the states, etc. Also, this will help curtail the "idiot voter" factor in elections... a solid win all around.

Second, the states and municipalities themselves will be more dynamic. There should be no reason someone owning land on the border between two different governed areas cannot join whichever he/she pleases, given reasonable limits for frequency of switching. Likewise, with enough people in contiguous area, you should be able to create a new municipality dynamically, elect a local government, and govern yourself. As an extension, if your municipality becomes too small or underpopulated, it should be absorbed into a neighbor region (to be determined by majority vote of the remaining people in the dissolving area). Not only would this allow a natural ordering by efficiency and effectiveness of government in various areas, but it would provide a strong incentive for each government to do the best job they could, and provide the best area in which the people can live, something which is sadly lacking in our current government.

Lastly on this topic, I strongly believe the government at the federal level should be providing a stable currency, and in my ideal country the amount of currency would be fixed (or dynamic, but strongly tied to real national wealth). Moreover, each level of government would set their funding requests, but collection laws and procedures would flow upward, with each municipality deciding what to tax and how much to allocate to the government above it. There would be some minimums, probably (likely based on total income in the fixed federal currency of all people in an area/state), but the government would be required to adjust its services to the funding level every year, instead of ignoring the funding level and printing money to pay for partisan agendas and favored-friend payouts. Admittedly, though, this item would need some more thought to actually do, but that's the theory.

Anyway, that was installment one of my thoughts on what I'd want an ideal country (US or otherwise) to be. I'll try to make my next post more actually topical, and less fanciful. :)


  1. If local governments were given more power, as you suggest, you wouldn't need to eliminate popular elections for president, senator, and representative. Those positions would have less influence, so there would be less reason for interest groups to manipulate the campaign. They would be important positions, but less important than they are now.

  2. Federal Government should be responsible for military, foreign policy, foreign trade and Constitutional issues exclusively. Each state should basically be it's own nation within the United States If Californians want to be communist and legalize pot or gambling or even abortion, it should be up to the voters of that state, then the States that have the best economic and social systems would draw people from other States making competition to make the State you live in the most attractive for voters and small businesses. Then the Governor's race would be far more important than the President and the emphasis would shift to local politics which matters far more anyways but gets little attention.