AIER: The Governmentalization of Social Affairs

George Mason University professor of economics Daniel Klein writes at the the American Institute for Economic Research about the pervasive infiltration of government into the social affairs of the people and its deleterious effect on liberty.

Walter E. Williams titled one of his books, More Liberty Means Less Government. Less government means less government intervention, less government extraction, less government spending, and less government employment. More liberty means less government.

I know that you hate neologisms, yet I nonetheless propose the governmentalization of social affairs. Albert J. Nock titled a book, Our Enemy, The State. That title is catchier than Our Enemy, The Governmentalization of Social Affairs. But Nock’s title is less sound, I believe.

“Governmentalization” is ugly. But so is the thing that it signifies, so the ugliness is fitting.

By “governmentalization,” I mean government restrictions on individual liberty, but also (and what might be more important) government-sector institutions as big players, living on taxation and privileged positions. Thus, the term governmentalization captures not only government as liberty-violator but also as benefactor, permission-granter, employer, landlord, customer, creditor, educator, transporter, access-granter, grant-maker, prestige conferrer, agenda-setter, organizer, law-enforcer, prison-keeper, recordkeeper, librarian, museum curator, park ranger, and owner of myriad massive properties and resources within the polity. Every one of these activities has a public relations arm, and sway with the systems of schools and culture. Governmentalization spells governmental influence over the culture at large.

Liberty and governmentalization are opposed, by and large, the way that freedom and slavery are opposed. To support liberty is to oppose governmentalization. To favor governmentalization is to oppose liberty.


Yikes! Another neologism! Can you forgive me? I promise it will be the last one.

In arguing for liberty over governmentalization, classical liberals often approach the matter by explaining that liberty gives rise to volunordination, that is, concatenations or orderings of objects, affairs, activities by voluntary processes. The approach asserts that volunordination brings benefits: material, moral, cultural, and spiritual. By and large, the more that social affairs proceed by volunordination, the more beneficial they are.

Two Ways of Being Classical Liberal

Governmentalization crimps, limits, and obstructs volunordination. Improvement is dampened. Government has gotten in the way. There is a deadweight loss. We could climb higher, but governmentalization holds us back. Deirdre McCloskey and Art Carden express the approach in their book title, Leave Me Alone and I’ll Make You Rich: How the Bourgeois Deal Enriched the World. We’d all be richer if the government would leave people alone.

That approach is sound, but there is another.

Rather than framing the matter as blessings hamstrung by governmentalization, one can frame it as the evil of governmentalization being reined in by liberal principles. It’s not that volunordination is wonderful, but rather that governmentalization is evil. It’s not that we want less governmentalization because that means more liberty. Rather, we want more liberty because that means less governmentalization. Governmentalization is odious and disgusting. It is hateworthy.

We limit governmentalization by upholding liberal principles. Governmentalization is a cancer, and liberal principles shrink it. The medicine does not bring on euphoric sensations, it simply reduces the evil. In other metaphors, governmentalization is pollution, poison, a plague of locusts. Liberal principles are the abatement, the antidote, the pesticide.

We don’t expect pesticides to make us virtuous or happy. We expect them to keep locusts away.

Thus, one approach is about a blessing, volunordination, and an undesirable check on it, while the other approach is about a bane, governmentalization, and a desirable check on it. Both approaches are valid, and they complement one another. One highlights the blessings of volunordination, the other the evils of governmentalization.

Do the Thought Experiment

Ponder a world in which Americans were restricted in their liberty as much as they are now. They faced the same restrictions and taxation, all of which initiate coercion against them (including the threat of coercion). But further imagine that, of the resources extracted from the private sector, the government could only actually keep and use 25 percent, while the remaining 75 percent of the money would have to be destroyed, perhaps in a bonfire of $1000 bills.

That would be a world with fewer government players in society. The cancer would be very much reduced. But notice that in this thought experiment, liberty would not be augmented, because the initiation of coercion by government is not actually reduced.

So is liberty really at the heart of classical liberalism? I would say no. The wellbeing of humankind, the good of the whole, is. Classical liberalism sees governmentalization as a bane. (Let me note that I presuppose a reasonably stable polity throughout; absent that presupposition, the matter is murkier.)

Classical liberalism, as a distinctive outlook on human wellbeing, has a spine of liberty. Liberty checks governmentalization. In order for all those $1000 bills to be garnered by the government, and in order to protect the government from competition (thus empowering the Fed to forge $1000 bills out of thin air), the government must violate liberty. Behind the big-player status of government is Big Coercion.

Classical Liberal Obeisance

Classical liberals tend to soft-pedal the second approach. They will say, as Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell say in their book title, Socialism Sucks. But the focus is on socialism in other countries, such as Venezuela, North Korea, and China, not the evils of governmentalization at home.

Leftists use the expression “systemic racism” to crush dissent and advance governmentalization. They ignore how governmentalization in schooling, for example, destroys Black potential. Systemic leftism is what drives disparate impacts.

There are a number of reasons why classical liberals underplay the governmentalization-sucks approach. Liberal principles can rein in governmentalization, but mind who holds the reins. Classical-liberal discourse involves an aspiration of persuading policymakers, and policymakers operate in and around government. Telling government that governmentalization sucks is not necessarily the path to persuasion. He who holds the reins also holds the lash.

There is virtue in endeavoring to persuade toward liberalization. Mixed with that virtue, however, is careerism. In most of government, its apparatus, and its satellites, leftists rule the roost. If you argue that governmentalization is hateworthy, you are hated by governmentalists. 

If you wish to get on in government, in academia, in the media, in the policy community, in many other areas, you ought not make yourself obnoxious to those who dominate there. Hate tends to be mutual, so when you explain that governmentalization is hateworthy, the governmentalists hate you for doing so.

The more prosperous course is to be agreeable, by playing up the blessings of volunordination: “C’mon dears, we will all be better off if we let volunordination enrich us. Let’s not obstruct what is good for all of us.”

The governmentalists won’t be so offended. They nod a bit about days gone by, when freeing up markets was the order of the day. But they then neglect the lesson and, hey, that was then and this is now. They proceed with governmentalization. By stomaching a few ‘nice’ non-leftists they fancy themselves reasonable and open-minded. Market-friendly, even.

Meanwhile, too often, the ‘nice’ non-leftists lose touch with spirited offensives against governmentalization, assume the posture of their discourse, see to their good standing, and give up the ghost.

What Is Your Dataset on Suckiness?

There is another reason that classical liberals stick primarily to the “C’mon dears” approach.

One can use statistics to argue that obstructions dampen the blessings of volunordination. One can quantify wealth, productivity, health, longevity, and one can quantify governmentalization. One then investigates correlation. Those goods, wealth, productivity, health, longevity, are uncontroversial. Also, in particular markets, such as housing, another uncontroversial good, economists can estimate the deadweight loss that results from government obstructions.

The governmentalization-sucks approach, however, is more aesthetic and cultural. Governmentalization sucks principally because of its moral, cultural, and spiritual consequences. Those consequences are difficult to make precise and accurate, either conceptually or empirically. When it comes to consensus, the governmentalists have filled the gallery with their people, at taxpayer expense or otherwise by coercive privilege, and driven out the dissenters.

Also, governments lie about the ill consequences of governmentalization. They falsify and bury evidence, as in Venezuela, North Korea, and China.

A governmentalization-sucks argument for liberal principles is more easily dismissed as non-scientific, as subjective, normative, and mere opinion. Indeed, leftists increasing favor canceling and criminalizing exposure of the lies and the evils of governmentalization.

A Change of Approach

In the 17th and 18th, and much of the 19th centuries, liberalism enjoyed a sort of ascendancy. From about 1885, however, liberalism in the Anglosphere began to falter severely. One reason was that people around 1885 felt disappointed. Liberalism seemed to promise happiness. Britain and the United States enjoyed liberalism to a good extent.

So, people woke up one morning in 1890, and what did they tell themselves? “Hey, I’m still not happy!”

Whad’ya know, (relative) liberalism was not a paradise. It did not eliminate the fundamental problems of man’s existence. It did not relieve man of the fundamental challenge of upward vitality, and thereby, true happiness. 

It seemed that liberalism had failed. Its opponents lied about what liberals had promised. Does Adam Smith ever come across as promising a panacea? The last sentence of The Wealth of Nations tells Britain in 1776, “to accommodate her future views and designs to the real mediocrity of her circumstances.”

Still, if liberals had given more emphasis to the evils of governmentalization, as opposed to the promise of volunordination, then disappointment would have been less, gratefulness and equanimity greater, and aversion to governmentalization stronger.

Albert Venn Dicey wrote in his 1905 book, Lectures on the Relation Between Law & Public Opinion in England During the Nineteenth Century:

The augmentation…of the public revenue by means of taxation is not only a diminution of each taxpayer’s private income and of his power within a certain sphere to do as he likes, but also an increase in the resources and the power of the state.

More liberty means less government, and less government means less miserableness, servility, fickleness, hypocrisy, denial, mendacity, baseness, and degeneracy. Liberal backbone checks the evil that is the governmentalization of social affairs.

Mises Institute: Decentralization, Freedom, and Peace Are the Pillars of a Free Society

Italian political philosopher Carlo Lottieri writes Decentralization, Freedom, and Peace Are the Pillars of a Free Society at the Mises Institute. The article is the foreword to Breaking Away: The Case of Secession, Decentralization, and Smaller Polities, by Ryan McMaken.

Classical liberal tradition defends the right of secession on many grounds. One of the main reasons is that the territorial dispersion of power limits political domination much more than formal constitutions do. Small states cannot easily adopt protectionist policies and their political classes are closely controlled by the citizens; in addition, redistribution is more difficult and rulers have more direct information about their own reality. Besides that, nationalism is a nonsense in a tiny jurisdiction of only 30,000 people (as in the case of Liechtenstein). Therefore, if we want to protect our fundamental rights, we need competing small states and the best way to enlarge the market is to multiply the jurisdictions.

In Breaking Away, Ryan McMaken takes up and elaborates on a number of libertarian arguments supporting self-government and he draws attention to an issue that is not always examined: that of defense and peace.

In the most glorious times of Dutch history, at the entrance to the port of Amsterdam there was this motto: Commercium et pax (trade and peace). Free market, social cooperation, and cultural dialogue always go hand in hand. That is why it is not surprising that in so many protagonists of classical liberal thought—from Montesquieu to Constant, from Cobden to Bastiat—free trade is associated with peace. By consequence, a libertarian defense of local self-government can be supported by a strong emphasis on the idea that processes of political disintegration would make a less conflictual world possible.

Yet for five centuries, the state has derived its legitimacy from the claim to guarantee order and avoid chaos. This thesis, in particular, is central to the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. Similarly, any process of unification always implies that the territorial dispersion of power would be accompanied by tensions, whereas unifications would guarantee harmony between peoples. For many people, talk of political division would already imply some disharmony and enmity.

On the contrary, against this Kantian idea of a global federation leading to the disappearance of borders, McMaken repeatedly focuses on the link between a peaceful international order and the diffusion of local self-government.

The analysis of sovereignty, territoriality or any other aspect of the modern state could take a lifetime, without achieving an understanding of which of these elements most characterizes this institution. However, it is clear that one must look at the state as a machine aimed at centralizing all decision-making power.

As McMaken points out, the state tends to enlarge: “mega-states are the ideal state.” After all, in the early modern age the model of statehood (France) emerged at the end of a process of enlargement that wiped out autonomy and diversity, laying the foundations for a growing homogenization of what had previously been a very linguistically, historically, and culturally articulated and inhomogeneous area.

Today one of the most used arguments in support of unification processes (against any hypothesis of secession of individual American states, against any skepticism toward European unification, and so on) is that only by building very large political entities is it possible to ensure effective defense: against China, Russia or any other state power.

The first objection is that if wars are waged by states, then it is necessary to overcome state logic in order to arrive at a more peaceful world. The more the number of states increases, the less they can really be ascribed to the state model. As Hegel pointed out, in some situations quantity can become quality.

However, the question remains as to how a collection of small entities that are much more respectful of individual rights can counteract large imperialist powers.

Basically many people think that large states are more militarily powerful. Obviously, this is not totally false, but we should compare a large armed state and an alliance of small jurisdictions emerging from the dissolution of big institutions. McMaken’s thesis is that the freedom provided by local self-government confers more economic dynamism, better technology, and greater attachment to one’s local reality. Moreover, it is not altogether surprising that during the last century great military powers have been in trouble when they have tried to occupy small localities where citizens were prepared to become soldiers to defend their families and homes.

After all, even if historians are still very uncertain about various aspects of those events, the Greek-Persian wars cannot be remembered as an undisputed triumph on the part of the most compact and unitary conglomerate.

In the end, in this contrast between those who believe that one must accept (even reluctantly) to be part of a large state in order to avoid a conquest and those, instead, who believe that even in such a case it is important to understand the advantages of the dispersion of power, we find ourselves faced with that misunderstood trade-off between freedom and security. And so it is always worth remembering the lesson of Benjamin Franklin, who was convinced that “those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

The problem is that, as the history of large states shows very well, choosing security without freedom leads to losing both rights and peace.

Mises: Government Is No Match for the Coronavirus

Robert Luddy at The Mises Institute writes about why government is failing so badly in pandemic response – Government Is No Match for the Coronavirus

The coronavirus is reminding everyone that you cannot rely on government and that ultimately it is the private sector that will provide the solutions. Many nonmedical government officials and members of the media are predicting massive cases of COVID-19 and death, when in fact no one can predict the outcome. What we do know is that government has created a full-blown national panic, when at this point the normal flu season is far more deadly.

Decentralization is critical to a functioning society but often precluded by federal regulations.

The Washington Post reported the following about the Centers for Disease Control:

The problems started in early February, at a CDC laboratory in Atlanta.

A technical manufacturing problem, along with an initial decision to test only a narrow set of people and delays in expanding testing to other labs, gave the virus a head start to spread undetected—and helped perpetuate a false sense of security that leaves the United States dangerously behind.

Tests begin with the CDC to insure quality, which is exactly the wrong approach. It assumes that the government can outperform the best medical industry in the world. Even at this hour the CDC has failed, shipping test kits that are defective.

The CDC does not have a solution, but it also becomes the classic blocker to progress. Labs cannot act without a lengthy approval process from CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These government controls violate the principle of subsidiarity (that problems should be solved at the lowest level possible). Ultimately care is provided by local hospitals, care facilities, and labs.

South Korea’s rapid testing allowed for early treatment and containment of the virus. These test kits were created in three weeks. Many labs in the US could have solved the test kit problem but were restrained by the FDA and CDC. The South Koreans offered to help us, but was the CDC listening? Evidently not.

At the president’s request on Friday, America’s robust private sector, including Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Roche Laboratories, and LabCorp, came up with a solution for mass testing. Roche has received fast-track FDA approval for its COVID-19 diagnostic test. This testing will be done via drive-thru in parking lots. This minimizes contact and allows for mass testing of thousands across the country. The more Americans are tested, resulting in a lower percentage of deaths, the more the testing will have a calming effect on our citizens.

Americans consider regulators and government to be sacrosanct, but in fact government agencies are slow and often fail us. Think of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which allowed Boeing engineers to bypass basic engineering standards, resulting in the crash of two Boeing 737 MAX airliners and the grounding of nine hundred planes around the world.

We all know that any time we expect service from the government, it will be slow and painful vs. the private sector, which is mostly fast and courteous. In spite of some minor shortages, due to hoarding, the private sector is supplying us with gas, food, prepared meals, medical supplies, and healthcare.

The coronavirus crisis must cause us to rethink government. The Trump administration has restricted new regulation and reduced arcane strictures, which has resulted in a booming economy. It is absolutely true that most private industry can be trusted, because the alternative for poor or unscrupulous providers is failure. Private industry can be sued and suffer financial decline, unlike government, which simply demands more money for poor performance. Business or individuals that commit fraud are subject to civil and criminal penalties…(continues)

Click here to read the entire story at Mises Wire.

Mises: How to Avoid Civil War

Echoing the thoughts of intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer in his previous videos on Civil War, the Mises Institute weighs in on the need for political separation in the United States in order to avoid a bloody civil war.

How to Avoid Civil War: Decentralization, Nullification, Secession

It’s becoming more and more apparent that the United States will not be going back to “business as usual” after Donald Trump leaves office, and it is easy to imagine that the anti-Trump parties will use their return to power as an opportunity to settle scores against the hated rubes and “deplorables” who dared attempt to oppose their betters in Washington, DC, California, and New York.

This ongoing conflict may manifest itself in the culture war through further attacks on people who take religious faith seriously, and on those who hold any social views unpopular among degreed people from major urban centers. The First Amendment will be imperiled like never before with both religious freedom and freedom of speech regarded as vehicles of “hate.” Certainly, the Second Amendment will hang by a thread.

But even more dangerous will be the deep state’s return to a vaunted position of enjoying a near-total absence of opposition from elected officials in the civilian government. The FBI and CIA will go to even greater lengths to ensure the voters are never again “allowed” to elect anyone who doesn’t receive the explicit imprimatur of the American intelligence “community.” The Fourth Amendment will be banished so that the NSA and its friends can spy on every American with impunity. The FBI and CIA will more freely combine the use of surveillance and media leaks to destroy adversaries.

Anyone who objects to the deep state’s wars on either Americans or on foreigners will be denounced as stooges of foreign powers.

These scenarios may seem overly dramatic, but the extremity of the situation is suggested by the fact that Trump — who is only a very mild opponent of the status quo — has received such hysterical opposition. After all, Trump has not dismantled the welfare state. He has not slashed — or even failed to increase — the military budget. His fights with the deep state are largely based on political issues, and not on major policy disagreements. Trump, for example, sides with the surveillance state on matters such as the prosecution of Edward Snowden.

His sins lie merely in his lack of enthusiasm for the center-left’s current drive toward ever more vicious identity politics. And, more importantly, he has been insufficiently gung ho about starting more wars, expanding NATO, and generally pushing the Russians toward World War III.

For even these minor deviations, we are told, he must be destroyed.

So, we can venture a guess as to what the agenda will look like once Trump is out of the way. It looks to be neither mild nor measured.

And then what?

In that situation, half the country — much of it from the half that calls itself “Red-State America” may regard itself as conquered, powerless, and unheard.

That’s a recipe for civil war.

But how can we take steps now to minimize this polarization the damage it is likely to cause?

The answer lies in greater decentralization and local autonomy. But as long as most Americans labor under the authoritarian notion that the United States is “one nation, indivisible” there will be no answer to the problem of one powerful region (or party) wielding unchallenged power over a minority.

Many conservatives naïvely claim that the Constitution and the “rule of law” will protect minorities in this situation. But their theories only hold water if the people making and interpreting the laws subscribe to an ideology which respects local autonomy and freedom for worldviews in conflict with the ruling class. That is increasingly not the ideology of the majority, let alone the majority of powerful judges and politicians.

Thus, for those who can manage to leave behind the flag-waving propaganda of their youths, it is increasingly evident that something other than repeating bromides about teaching high-school civics, reading the Constitution, or electing “strong leaders” will have to be done…

Writing at The American Conservative, Michael Vlahos, for example, appears unconvinced that violence can be avoided. But even he concedes the violence is unlikely to take the form of mass bloodshed as seen in the 1860s:

Our antique civil wars were not bound to formal rules, yet somehow they held to well-etched bounds of expectation. American society today has very different norms and expectations for civil conflict, which certainly will constrain how we fight the next battle.

Today’s America no longer embraces a national landscape of an industrial-lockstep battlefield (think Gettysburg, D-Day). Our next civil war — as social media so eloquently reminds us — will enact its violence on a battle campus of equal pain, if less blood.

Many devotees of perpetual federal supremacy, of course, won’t admit even this. Any attempt at decentralization, nullification, or secession is said to be invalid because “that was decided by the Civil War.” There is no doubt, of course, that the Civil War settled the matter for a generation or two. But to claim any war “settled things” forever, is clearly nonsense.

It is true, however, that if the idea of a legally, culturally, and politically unified United States wins the day, Americans may be looking toward a future of ever greater political repression marked by increasingly common episodes of bloodshed. This is simply the logical outcome of any system where it is assumed the ruling party has a right and a duty to force the ways of the one group upon another. That is the endgame of a unified America.

Click here to read the entire article at Mises Wire.

Brandon Smith: Fighting Globalism Requires Decentralization

Brandon Smith at has written on a piece worth your time titled Fighting Back Against Globalism Requires An Honest Movement To Decentralize. Globalism isn’t the only threat to liberty, but it is a major one, affecting people the world over and not just US citizens.

…Liberty activists have to lead by example, first by educating the public on the concept of the non-aggression principle — the principle that force is not an acceptable method of compelling a group of people to organize in the way you wish. Force is not incentive, it is criminal. Force is only an acceptable reaction when someone else is trying to harm or enslave you and those around you. This concept is paramount to the long-term survival of any society. It should be codified and taught to each new generation.

Next, liberty activists need to organize locally into voluntary groups based on mutual aid. Modern civilization has been directed over many decades to assume that participation in the system is mandatory and that the survival of the system is paramount over the rights or prosperity of the individual. But a system that is hostile to individual liberty does not deserve to exist. It should not be allowed to survive.

People have to walk away and build something else.

Voluntarism is the key to changing decades if not centuries of misallocated human labor and time. Imagine a world in which every person is a “free agent,” and they join groups (or partnerships) based on shared goals or shared beliefs rather than being born into servitude — fuel to keep a global machine that does not care about them running. They join these groups based on their interests, abilities, merit and how they might help a particular project progress. Then they are free to leave the group whenever they wish or when the project is done.

In other words, voluntarism is a kind of return to a tribal system, but one in which some tribes exist temporarily based on what they plan to achieve. The GOAL becomes the focus, instead of the endless perpetuation of a group that has outlived its usefulness. The more legitimate achievements for the betterment of humanity a tribe attains successfully, the longer it would stay relevant.

The incentive to better one’s self would be considerable in a voluntary society, for you are competing against every other individual that is also improving their own skill sets and knowledge for a spot in each project or tribe. Individual excellence would become the core virtue of such a civilization.

Voluntarism is perhaps a lofty vision, but one that can be pursued in steps. One of the first steps is self-sufficiency and production…

Click here to read the entire article.

Keep Gov’t Local – Excerpt from “Human Scale Revisted”

On the ability of local communities to better respond to issues than state or federal government, from the book Human Scale Revisited by Kirkpatrick Sale:

To find the government as the root cause of such problems, of course, should not surprise us by now: it is in the nature of the state, we have repeatedly seen, to create the problems that it then steps in to correct and uses to justify its existence. But there is a further point to the process that is pertinent here; in the words of British philosopher Michael Taylor:

The state…in order to expand domestic markets, facilitate common defence, and so on, encourages the weakening of local communities in favour of the national community. In doing so, it relieves individuals of the necessity to cooperate voluntarily amongst themselves on a local basis, making them more dependent upon the state. Teh result is that altruism and cooperative behavior gradually decay. The state is thereby strengthened and made more effective in its work of weakening the local community.

This is important: it is exactly this that accounts for the inability of the Lake Michigan communities to regulate their pollution problems in the first place. Communities that were in control of their own affairs, whose citizens had an effective voice in the matters that touched their lives, would almost certainly choose not to pollute their own waters or to permit local industries to do so, out of sheer self-interest if not out of good sense — particularly if they were small, ecology-minded, economically stable, and democratically governed. (And if by some chance a community or two did go on polluting, resistant to all appeals, their toxic effects would likely not overstrain the lake’s ability to absorb them.) It is this process, moreover, that accounts for the failure of the concerned majority to have cleaned up the pollution once it existed. Individuals and communities conditioned to cooperative and federative behavior, particularly those whose interests are greatest (in this case fishing villages, towns with bathing beaches, beach clubs, marinas, lakefront hotels, boardwalk businesses), would almost certainly work out, and pay for, a way to restore the lake — especially if there were no federal or state governments to siphon off the locally generated money through taxation.

As with pollution, so with the other public services of the state. There is a not a one of them, not one, that has not in the past been the province of the community or some agency within the community (family, church, guild) and that has been taken on the state only because it first destroyed that province. There is not a one of them that could not be re-absorbed by a community in control of its own destiny and able to see what its natural humanitarian obligations, its humanitarian opportunities, would be. Invariably hen the state has taken over the job of supplying blood for hospitals, there is a shortage, even when it offers money; the United States now gets much of its blood from overseas. Invariably when a community is asked to do it voluntarily, and when the community perceives that the blood is to be used for its own needs, there is a surplus. This is not magic altruism, the by-product of utopia; this is perceived self-interest, community-interest, made possible (capable of being perceived by the individual) only at the human scale.

Indeed there is not one public service, not one, that could not be better supplied at the local level, where the problem is understood best and quickest, the solutions are most accessible, the refinements and adjustments are easiest to make, the monitoring is most convenient. If it be said that there is not sufficient expertise in a small community to tackle some of the complicated problems that come along, the answer is surely not a standing pool of federal talent but an appeal throughout neighboring communities and regions for a person or group who can come in to do the job. (This is in fact what the federal government itself most often does today, hence the great reliance on contract firms and $650-a-day consultants.) If it be said that some problems are too big for a small community to hand along (an epidemic, a forest fire, or some widespread disaster), the anser is clearly not the intervention of some outside force but the ready cooperation of the communities and regions involved, whose own self-interest, even survival, is after all at stake. And if it be said that there is not enough money in a small community to handle such problems — well, where do you suppose the government got its money in the first place, and how much more might there be in local pockets if $500 billion of it weren’t spent by Washington, $200 billion by state capitals, every year?

I cannot imagine a world without problems and crises, without social and economic dislocations demanding some public response. I see no difficulty, however, in imagining a world where those are responded to at the immediate human level by those who perceive the immediate human effects and control their own immediate human destinies.