Thursday, January 28, 2016

#28 / No Baths? No Local Governments?

Late last year (on Sunday, December 20, 2015, to be exact), the San Francisco Chronicle published a story in its "Insight" section with the following headline: "5 Ordinary things Californians can kiss goodbye in next 20 years."

Author Matt Weiser, who writes a blog called "Water Deeply," put taking baths and mowing lawns at the top of his list. 

He may have a point, there.

Weiser's list went on to say that "we won't need utilities," and "we won't need local government," placing these "ordinary things" as numbers two and three on the list of things we can "kiss goodbye."

I don't think that's going to happen. In fact, I hope not. 

Weiser thinks that "local government" is mainly about maintaining the utilities that deliver municipal services, like water and wastewater treatment, and since Weiser opines that "our homes will become autonomous, collecting the water we need during storms, then treating it to be used over and over in on-site wastewater recycling systems," utilities will disappear, and local governments will simply "wither away." Who would need them?

Well, even if you buy the "end to utilities" prediction, which I don't, our "governments," at every level, are not essentially organizations whose main purpose is to "provide services."

Government is the forum in which we debate and decide, collectively, what we want to do (together). Let's not give up on that idea, just yet!

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  1. What about zoning? Local governments are widely seen as the biggest stumbling block to higher density in urban and inner-suburban areas. What do you see happening to local government discretion to say "no" to housing projects that the state sees as advancing its objectives on housing, climate change, transportation, economic development, etc. - but that the community sees as a threat to its quality of life? It seems to me that local governments may find themselves stripped of much of their power over this issue. I don't know about you, but I have deeply mixed feelings about that.

    1. Traditionally, local governments have been given the power to make local land use decisions; however, the basic unit of government is state government, and the state government can decide exactly how much discretion to allow local governments. I tend to think that local governments are going to maintain the ability to make those decisions about zoning and density on into the future, but the global warming crisis is real, and if and when the state government decides to require certain kinds of land use decisions, to meet that crisis, the state government will certainly have the power to do that. At any rate, I don't think local government is going to wither away, as suggested in the Chronicle article.

  2. Rather than loss of local governments, we are facing the loss of our federal government to a global corporate oligarchy.

    Local governments are still strong, the only place where the average citizen has a meaningful influence in the conduct of our representatives. We can still work with local politicians, as my wife and I do regularly, meet them face to face and provide assistance and direction in their deliberations, decisions and actions.

    The United Stated federal government is beyond our control and influence. While we may have the illusion of "one person, one vote," the corporate oligarchy has the reality of "one dollar, one vote," and they have billions to trillions of dollars to influence the national electoral process, our citizens only entré into the national political process

    It's no surprise that voter participation in national elections is so small, and unfortunately, this disillusionment with politics and voting carries over into state, regional and local voting, disenfranchising citizens from participation in the affairs of local government as well.

    The United States military elite are planning for a new invasion of Libya, ostensibly as part of the War on Terror, but what we really know is the Corporate War for Oil. There's nothing we can do to put a stop to US imperialism and economic subjugation, short of mass rebellion and non-cooperation.

    Not bloody likely.

    1. In terms of functionality and the hope for any kind of genuine democracy, the closer to local the better, where government is concerned! At least, I think there's a good argument for that!


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