In my hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the local school district finds itself factionalized as breakaway communities seek to form a new district.
Parents and political leaders in the uprising communities in southeast Baton Rouge rightly see huge benefits in the exercise: Gaining control over how and where their local tax dollars are spent; gaining control over how their children are educated; and gaining control over local planning issues that rarely rise to the same level of importance when they’re lost inside the wants and needs of a larger bureaucracy with a more diverse group of constituents to appease.
Their effort comes on the heels of successful secessions by three other school districts in nearby towns – Baker, Zachary and Central – that all cleaved away from Baton Rouge over the last decade.
It’s the story of what I call the New Small.
Small is in, politically speaking. It hasn’t registered on the federal or state level – yet – but at the community level, small is very big, indeed. Towns, villages, school districts and other municipalities in recent years have been voting to separate themselves from bigger bodies in order to gain a greater say in their own local affairs.
It’s the locally grown solution to one of America’s most debilitating problems: Obese government. At this stage, there’s no diet that will return us to a healthier size. The only honest option is to begin separating from one another and to return to a more-pure form of democracy, where government is smaller and responsive to local needs, and where voters know their voices are heard. [adcode]
The Desire For More Responsive Government
Large has always been the demon of government.
History abounds with examples of empires that reach a size that’s ultimately unsustainable because of the high costs required to do so. Those costs result from government’s incessant need to grow ever larger and usurp ever-more power and lucre for itself. It’s government’s innate desire for self-preservation, and it is every government’s undoing.
Size undermined Rome. It weakened Spain, France and Portugal as their disparate colonies revolted. It killed the British Empire. It destroyed China’s Qing Dynasty and the Mongol Empire … it collapsed the former Soviet Union upon itself, and remains the unmovable burr still causing friction in various parts of Russia.
In short, no large government has ever survived intact.
And with obvious reason: People in the hinterlands feel increasingly disassociated with the main political body. They feel disenfranchised. They feel subjugated and abused and come to see that their only real purpose is to supply treasure (i.e., taxes) to the bandits running the central government.
So, they do what all oppressed people do – they either revolt, or, through a sense of ennui, they allow the state to crumble or fall victim to invaders.
That’s the path we’re on in America.
Accept it or don’t … but as my wife’s grandfather always told me: “Facts is facts, and them’s the facts.”
It’s not news to remind you that America now has some $16 trillion in debt that the country can never repay without debasing the currency. It’s not news that the size of the state and federal workforce has grown dramatically for the last 60 years, at the cost of governmental bloat that unnecessarily taxes your wallet and mine. In the last decade alone, government employees at all levels – federal, state and local – expanded by roughly 10%, even as the overall U.S. workforce has tumbled to 30-year lows.
And it’s not news that many states and local communities face budgetary misery, in part, because of their own overgrown governmental infrastructure and fattened workforces.
Of the two options we face – revolt or ennui – we, as Americans, are keen on revolt first.
Which is why the tony Southern California village of La Jolla is seriously contemplating separating from San Diego, with which it has always been aligned. It’s why the parents of Alabaster, Alabama broke away from the Shelby County school system this year to form their own. It’s why the community of Ballantyne is aiming to do what has never been done before in North Carolina – break away from an existing city, in this case Charlotte, to form a new one.
All around the country, the New Small is rising up. It’s just that few people see the bigger trend at play. No one links decisions in Ballantyne, North Carolina with those in La Jolla, though both movements are clearly born of the same sentiment – a desire to return to a more responsive form of localized government.
America: Bad at the Best, Good at the Worst
The same sentiment percolates at the state and federal levels.
Are you at all surprised that a Pew Research Center poll last year found that 86% of Americans – basically nine of every 10 people you know – are frustrated or angry with federal government?
Such pandemic frustration points to a gnawing sense across our land that the U.S. government has grown much too large to be effective on any level beyond bombing other nations.
Our educational scores – 23rd in math; 31st in science – place us among the world’s also-rans. Infant mortality in the U.S. ranks in the mid-30s, behind Cuba and Croatia – and this in a country that prides itself on what many Americans mistakenly like to think is the best healthcare system in the world.
The quality of our overall infrastructure – the physical plant we need to build the economy – ranks 23rd, well behind Barbados, but, thankfully, just ahead of Namibia.
We’re 50th in life expectancy, 18th in diabetes. Our overall healthcare system clocks in at a disrespectable 37th. Elementary-school enrollment puts us way down the list at 79th in the world, and we’re no longer even in the top 10 among advanced nations when it comes to the number of college graduates.
We are number one, however, in obesity. We lead the world in guns, which explains why we lead the world in crime and rank among the worst offenders for murder … which means we also house the world’s largest population of prisoners.
Oh, and, well, we do lead the world in debt, too.
The Only Future We Have
Government – regardless of the party in power – likes to assert that the solution to every ill is more money and more government. With enough bureaucracy and a czar for every war, we can, the government likes to bleat, improve education and give more people access to better healthcare and more jobs.
That’s the perennial lie of government and the misguided redistributionists. Government will always claim it needs more money because government is covetous by its very nature.
The real solution, of course, is less government … the New Small.
I am not saying “no government.” I’m a Libertarian, not an anarchist. But I see great value in wiping out numerous governmental agencies and functions and allowing free markets to step in and fill the void – where needed.
If you listen, you can already hear the rumblings of discontent at the local level in Ballantyne, La Jolla, Alabaster, Baton Rouge and elsewhere. Those rumblings will grow louder over time and begin to ripple through higher levels of government.
Like it or not, America will go back to small.
It’s the only way to preserve the American way, and it is our future.
Until next time, stay Sovereign …
P.S. Faced with a system that isn’t looking out for their best interests, small towns like Ballantyne are taking steps to put their futures back into their own hands. It’s that kind of thinking that we all should be following when it comes to our personal and financial futures, as well. My colleague, Bob Bauman, has spent years following the biggest threats to your privacy and your wealth, and the steps you can take to start fighting back. To find out how you can get started, click here for his special report.
The $54 Trillion Skeleton in Obama’s Closet
Nine months ago, this ex-Wall Street Journal veteran spotted an unusual pattern in a regularly published, though patently ignored government document. What he’s flushed-out is quite possibly one of the best-disguised paper trails in accounting history. Until now it’s been the State’s deepest, darkest secret. Click to find out why this maverick financial reporter believes this scandal is set to explode this month with strikingly devastating consequences for America…