Category Archives: Reader Contributions

Guest Post: The Social Aspect of Localism

By Chris Felt

small is beautifulIn their post Why Localism?, Archer and Fegley argue that the size of the United States government has grown to such an extent that it has now become too large. The government is too large because it cannot adequately represent and serve the 300 million citizens that reside within its jurisdiction. Archer and Fegley suggest that the government inadequacies are readily apparent in two key areas: education and environmental conservation. In education, the federal government attempts to satisfy the unique educational needs of localities by enacting a general education policy that produces only frustration and inefficiencies. The EPA also seeks to solve the local environmental issues which would be better handled by local departments such as the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Local departments have greater insight into what is necessary for environmental protection for their local areas. Archer and Fegley claim that centralization of power in the federal government is not only ineffective but also potentially dangerous. Archer and Fegley state that atrocities such as those that occurred during the regimes of Nazism, Fascism, and Communism are logical outcomes of the centralization of power.

The views expressed by Archer and Fegley are those that are easily accepted by the other well known localism movement which is built upon the works of E.F. Schumacher. However, Archer and Fegley have only expressed agreement with the political aspect of this movement. This movement also emphasizes a social aspect. The social aspect includes many ideas but the basic ones are buying local, human scale technology, and simple living. Archer asserted in the June 19 podcast that in order for personal relationships and a sense of community to flourish, the proper size for a political unit needs to be the city. I argue that not only is a city-size political unit important for personal relationships and community, the acceptance of the social aspect is also necessary. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Economy, Food Production, Localism, Reader Contributions

Guest Post: Common Core vs Local Education

We have come a long way in this country from a time when parents, committees, and in some cases clergyman in communities came together, interviewed, hired a teacher and adopted curriculum they felt best represented their values and beliefs. This is localism in education at its best. This is local communities being represented at its highest level. A lot has changed over the years in America concerning education. Some of the changes have come from the federal government and some from the individual states. Other changes have come from parents and the level of involvement they have in the education process. Perhaps parents feel they no longer have the voice they once had, and in some cases this may seem true now that Idaho has adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS).

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There has been a movement in this country for many years to nationalize education and have one set of common standards for every state. According to corestandards.org, 45 states have adopted the CCS that were written by an organization called Achieve, the National Governors Association, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation pledged $60 million dollars in campaign money to help fund the goals of Achieve, NGA, and CCSSO. Some school districts, teachers, and parents applaud this move while others are very unhappy. Idaho adopted the CCS on January 24, 2011. Continue reading

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Filed under Common Core, Education, Idaho, Local Politics, Reader Contributions

Guest Post: Comparative Analysis of Decision Making Entities

by Floyd Noel

Much debate and research has been conducted on the topic of how and why political production should take place. Topics ranging from how political decisions are reached to what should be produced politically to who should pay and everything in between have been argued and studied for millennia. Many different political institutions have been theorized and put into practice, with varying results. The purpose of political production is usually given as solving market failures. From providing public goods which the market would under-provide to coping with externalities which the market would ignore, market failures seem to abound which necessitate a government. To judge and plan governmental action, models are used which account for the market failure and what political actions can be taken to resolve the failure. Comparative institutional analysis has been used to take into account the realities of how political decisions work in the real world, in order to make modeling market failures and political action more accurate.

Government is the institution used for collective, coercive decision making. This is due to its comparative advantage in coercion. Political production can be facilitated by a political entrepreneur or by different groups of individuals. The entrepreneur acts alone, for his benefit, while political production done by groups can benefit either their own interests or the interests of others (potentially including society as a whole). The general model of government intervention in the market is that government only intervenes when it is necessary, and that the government does a good job of correcting market failures. Other assumptions included production taking place via a benevolent dictator and decision making by self-interested individuals who become benevolent humanitarians when making political decisions. James Buchanan introduced the idea of government failure, destroying the notions of perfect decision-makers and perfect policy application. Continue reading

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