Consolidation of Government is the Antithesis of a Free People

by Tiffany Ellison

“What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.”

-Thomas Jefferson

In our efforts to reign in a clinically ill government, one that our Founding Fathers warned us about, it is easy to begin prescribing medicine that seems like it will cure the disease.  However, we are at risk of prescribing the wrong treatments altogether if we do not appropriately perform a diagnostic workup. 

One symptom of our clinically ill government is gross overspending, which some partially attribute to the administrative costs at each level of governance. Some would like to prescribe a dose of centralizing authority in attempts to reduce or dilute administrative costs to a larger population base (in effect the assumption is that this would result in fewer administrators and, therefore, costs).

I agree that government spending is wildly out of control but suggest that centralizing government may not be a proper solution to address the issue. I will try to make an argument in a few short bullets points, although this could become a weekly series on the formation and maintenance of a representative republic

1)     The local counties and cities are (ideally) held in check (go with this thought, and I’ll pick back up in #3) by their local voters and elected officials. These citizens and elected public servants should have the most intimate understanding of their local governance. Compared to more centralized governments (regional, state, or federal), who is capable of wasting the most money? I think we would all conclude that on orders of magnitude, the more centralized government has the greater capacity to waste money. However, many local governments are convinced, compelled, or coerced into unsustainable spending practices facilitated by an unchecked federal bureaucratic government and non-elected interest groups being funded by member countries and nations. Small local governments, such as cities, schools, and counties are targeted by well-funded efforts who seek to regionalize government control, taking decision-making out of the hands of localized communities.

2)     School finance and spending are out of control, in large part due to State driven funding formulas and dictates, as well as funding and dictates from regional interests and the federal government. Local school boards feel compelled to always focus on revenue maximization resulting in maximizing local taxes in order to maximize state aid to their districts. Further, compliance with state and federal funding edicts often requires the adoption of policies and positions that create additional expenses that are otherwise not needed. Schools give another clear example of how MORE centralized influence and authority have made outrageous and ineffective spending worse, not better. The more centralized education and education funding has become, the more out of control the spending. 

3)     Locally elected government representatives have progressively (not an accidental word) abdicated their DUTY of local self-governance to regional, state, federal, and global non-elected bureaucratic dictators who dangle promises of grant money and economic and political successes. Most of our elected representatives now “trust the experts” who have been appointed to regional planning organizations, instead of embracing their own expertise and the desires of their constituents. They gauge their success by government wealth, not societal health. Is this an example of local governance gone wrong or could we again agree that the issue is in fact due to centralized influence and power, not “too many local governments”?

4)     A representative local government was only meant for a moral people and could only be enjoyed when the populous did their job to serve in their government righteously and vote for wise leaders, not popular people, or in exchange for favors. Are WE doing that?? Not very well. 

5)     Society has largely become dependent consumers of government services. We ask more of government but don’t like the resulting price tag.  We enjoy the things that money buys.  We want schools and athletic stadiums that rival the ancient marble halls of Rome. We demand trophies in glass cases and names elevated in newspapers, instead of the rich knowledge of history and a life of simple contentment. We are not servants and we expect government to serve us instead of people serving one another.  We replaced individual charity and community efforts for government entitlements.  We ought to be wary whenever we hear government initiatives that claim to “ensure” anything! This statement means that government is no longer a representation of the people and is instead a separate entity meant to be the great provider for the people. We live in a society where there seems to be a consensus that a significant role of government is to “ensure” outcomes in society, although we sometimes disagree on those outcomes. If We, the People continue to delegate our personal authority and responsibility to the governments of the Earth, we will continue to fulfill the warnings of our Forefathers and enslave ourselves.

The Founders believed that a centralized government, meaning less local governance, was dangerous to individual liberties, and that the best path forward in creating a government system that would grow with the population was a representative form of government where the power remained closest to the people.

“What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.” -Thomas Jefferson

The Founders were not ill-educated, uncultured land tillers and hog farmers! They were well-studied men of high integrity! We have not been educated well in the history of human societies and behavior, only in “political science” that tends to reflect a singular worldview. We have out-of-control government spending because We the People have given away our authority, unchecked, to elected and unelected leaders that are easily corrupted, because that is the nature of man.  Instead of asking how we consolidate government, perhaps a better question is why aren’t we doing the opposite?  

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