Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Size is Everything

America has always been big. Even when it was just 13 colonies, it was still geographically larger than many European countries. Now, of course, America is bigger than all of Europe.

And part of the genius of our Founding Fathers was acknowledging that we had to be separate states. Our heritage as former individual colonies demanded it as well as the vast geographic differences between the colonies. So, the United States of America was born - out of many, one.

But historically our central government has been appropriately weak. It's goal was to protect its citizens, regulate a little to maintain the standards of interstate commerce, and a couple of other things.

Then the progressives and FDR rolled around. Increasingly, our Federal government has usurped the states ability to govern themselves. This centralizing of governance into one big Capital is a very bad thing.

America is too big, too widespread, to geographically different to have a powerful central government.

In his article "Rome Vs. Gotham", Joel Kotkin makes this point far better than I can.
Urban politicians have widely embraced the current concentration of power in Washington, but they may soon regret the trend they now so actively champion. The great protean tradition of American urbanism – with scores of competing economic centers – is giving way to a new Romanism, in which all power and decisions devolve down to the imperial core.

This is big stuff, perhaps even more important than the health care debate. The consequence could be a loss of local control, weakening the ability of cities to respond to new challenges in the coming decades.
Read the whole thing, you'll be impressed.

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