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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/14/11


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Message Mark Skilbred


We are facing some tough and pertinent questions regarding the form and function of our federal government. Some questions that come to mind include: Is the U.S. suffering from too much government? Should the U.S. government get out of its own way? Have we become our own worst enemy? Shall we sacrifice our nation in order to preserve the status quo, or should we instead save our nation from itself? Is it really just a case of choosing a new President in November of 2012, whether a Democrat, Republican or Independent candidate, or does the root cause lie much deeper? Is it now time to choose a more effective form of government? Shall we choose a Scandinavian, European or Canadian model? After all, this is the country of we the people, and so we have a right to choose the form of government that best meets our needs.

What is the most effective form of government? Is more and larger government the answer to our predicament? How does our form of federal government compare with the rest of the world? Can our government change, and should our government change at this time? Can we just eliminate the federal government altogether? Can we continue to function as separate states? Going further, can we function as independent counties? Can we function as independent cities or city-states? Is it wise to do so? How independent are we really? Who would be hurt by independent states, counties and cities? Who is most helped by federal government? Who is least helped by federal government?

Why do we insist on crediting the federal government as the source of our supplemental funding when in reality we the people are the source of the wealth of our nation? If we the people really are the nation, and we are also the government by inference, does it really matter whether the government we support is at the city, county, state or national level, as long as it remains a viable, functional form of government? Why is it necessary to send our money off to Washington D.C., only to have it earmarked for the pet projects of those in Congress, who may or may not send some of it back to us? Aren't we capable at the local level of choosing more necessary and appropriate uses for our own money? Isn't it obvious that the reason cities, counties and states increasingly depend on the federal government as this depression deepens is that we have given them so much of our money in the first place, expecting them to provide quality goods and services in exchange for our trust and support?

If we hired a contractor and gave him money to build us a wonderful house that would stand up to scrutiny, protect us from the elements, provide comfort, safety and warmth for our inhabitants and not fail to impress the neighborhood with its design, functionality and hospitality, we would then expect to pay top dollar. But in return, we would expect him to build us a house that was worthy of our high expectations. Fellow citizens, we have a right to expect a decent house in exchange for our investment. What we have instead, for comparison's sake, is an unkempt and dysfunctional, unsightly shack, with a leaky roof, backed-up plumbing and a broken-down fence that is an eyesore and an offense to the neighborhood. Given the circumstances, what should we do with the contractor we hired with our money and with the house that he built for us?    

We have delegated OUR AUTHORITY to the federal government and trusted that they are good stewards of our money and resources. Well guess what? Since we the people ARE the government, it's time to remind the federal government that we the people no longer will place our trust and finances under their control, and in fact are considering dissolving our less-than-perfect (to put it mildly) federal union in favor of more responsive and functional government.

Now for some practical suggestions: Instead of bankrolling the federal bureaucracy, let's keep our revenues in the states, counties and cities where they can do the most good for all of us. (By the way, do you have any idea how much money could be saved and used to run local, state and city governments if we didn't have to finance the federal government with its duplication of services, inefficiency and overlapping of jurisdictions? Our projected federal budget is $3.7 trillion per year. (Wikipedia) Our projected total state budgets are $1.7 trillion per year. (Deltek Information Systems) If that money were appropriately kept in state, county and city treasuries, what could they accomplish in terms of building infrastructure, training and preparing their citizens, and responding to our current economic challenges? The $3.7 trillion could be wisely and fairly apportioned, ensuring that all of our state, county and city governments would be able to meet budgets and there would still be plenty of money left to provide for national defense, emergency management and a rainy day fund.

Since we the people already own the properties, resources and the truly vast real estate holdings that make up our federal government, we can decide how best to use, protect and preserve our property. We can greatly improve our international diplomacy, revenue-share our military, concentrate on our national guard, coast guard, and first-strike capabilities, improve our existing defenses, technology, testing, satellites, aircraft, improve our information gathering as much as possible, do it better than anyone else, and keep a close watch on the world around us and here at home, too. We can keep plenty of boots on the ground here at home and far fewer boots abroad. By building stronger relationships and using better diplomacy with our neighbors both in this hemisphere and throughout the world, we will have ready, willing and able allies when they are most needed.

Let's concentrate on improving our own domestic infrastructures, better-educating our citizens and creating larger markets for our goods and services here at home and abroad. Instead of exporting our ideas to countries with cheap labor, let's create, produce and service our own technologies right here at home. Let's improve the lives of all of our citizens by providing jobs and increasing wages and opportunities.

Unemployment, poverty and crime go hand-in-hand. Why would any nation perpetuate these evils by failing to act? Why should we here in the U.S. allow this to continue? We're an accident just waiting to happen, unless we make some serious progress in these areas soon! If you want your own family to fail, a sure way to make that happen is to stop taking care of it. Why would it be any different for cities, counties, states and nations? We need to do more than cater to the wealthy and special corporate interests. We need to stop ignoring the problems and do the tough things necessary to improve the lives of American citizens so that they can in turn help to improve this country.

It is far cheaper and easier to fix a situation before it becomes a problem than to wait for a catastrophe. The time to prepare for a hurricane is while it is still developing. Once it arrives, it's too late! All that can be done then is to save those who are still living, to run, swim or drive away, if that is still possible, and deal with the cleanup when the hurricane is finally over. (If there is still any money left to do that.) Standing around wringing our hands and crying won't prevent the hurricane from coming, and ignoring it and pretending that everything will be okay won't work either. The time for action is now, while cooler heads can still prevail. Leadership must stop fiddling while Rome burns, instead of acting now to prevent a disaster.

If leadership cannot agree and make a plan that will move us forward, it is time for new leadership, and probably time for a sea change in the way that we organize our federal government. The federal government is the most dysfunctional government in our country. Our most functional government begins at the local county level, followed by states and then cities. The degree to which any level of government is dependent on another level of government for its support and function, to that same degree is its level of dysfunction shown. Counties, states and cities which cannot survive independently should take steps to disband their present form of government in favor of smaller, stronger and more functional government. (As we know from hard experience, larger does not always mean stronger and more functional!) And just as this principle applies to smaller governmental units, so it also applies to the larger and more federalized versions.

If any form of government proves either by its misdeeds or inaction that it cannot be functional and productive, then it does not deserve to be a government at all. Leadership must discuss their failings openly with the citizens they represent and reach an agreement to remain as the smaller, more independent and functional units that they already are, or join together with other more capable forms of government. Why should we be satisfied to allow failure and mediocrity in government to be perpetuated?

Our constitution begins with "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union"". In saying these words, we are saying that our goal is perfection, and I have to tell you folks, we sure are a long way from there! Why should the form of, or for that matter, the fact that a federal government exists blind us to the necessity of change? If the federal government is incapable of functioning in its present form, and if reasonable change is either rejected or found to be inadequate to the challenges we are facing, then it is time to dissolve the federal government and function as independent states, counties and cities. It's time to decide whether to fix the roof or replace it! Better to have functional government at some level than to have dysfunction and chaos at the national level.

The inevitable questions arise: How about our national security? Who will speak on our behalf to the world community? Remember that we are still the same people with our city, local and state governments still in place, and we are still capable of taking action. We are probably also better-able to work together as properly-functioning governmental units than as a dysfunctional whole. You can believe that I personally hope it doesn't come to this, although some would say that it already has! I hope that our federal leadership can prove itself worthy of existence.

If the elected and appointed leaders in federal offices cannot meet the current challenges and respond appropriately and in a timely fashion, then it is time to defer their authority to those who have proven themselves capable of leadership. You can lead, follow, or just get out of the way, because you are only holding up traffic and several other things at this point! Since we the people ARE the government in this nation at the local city, county, state AND national levels, and since our elected and appointed officials are merely our representatives, LET'S LET THEM KNOW THAT THEIR DAYS AS OUR REPRESENTATIVES ARE COMING TO AN END. We are better off without a federal government than with this dysfunction. It's embarrassing and an insult to this great nation!

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I am a writer/blogger who is interested in diplomatic solutions more than all other options, but who recognizes that proper governance must enforce the rule-of-law, especially when its neglect will result in civil war and anarchy. That being said, I (more...)
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