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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

April 10, 2009
How Countries Die

This is an article I encourage everyone to read and think about. Not because it's dramatic or of earth-shattering consequence or anything, unless people make it of consequence.

No, it's because there seem to be a lot of people in this country any more who don't understand what, or why, government is. And a lot of them seem to be in government.

The people in Kauai have taken the first step. A group of people needed something and they pooled their resources to get it. Everyone contributed what they could or what was needed. "Government" was irrelevant, because it made itself irrelevant.

Some day, these people will realize they need several things and they'll appoint someone in the community to 'oversee' the projects, gathering the necessary resources from each community member and making sure things get done. People who don't have a shovel when the time comes to dig a ditch might chip in ten bucks to help pay for gas in the truck to drive dirt and debris to a landfill.

Because work begets work, the Overseer will soon need an assistant and probably a clerk to do the filing. Projects will come up that benefit some community members but not others and they'll have a community vote on whether or not to put community resources into those projects. Most of the people in the community get distracted with their own lives and their own personal projects and forget to keep a sharp eye on what the new Overseer is doing.

Before you know it, you have a government.

And it grows and it grows and it grows.

And, sadly, some day it grows so large that it will forget that it started with a bridge. It will start to believe that government is an end in itself.

The government will have created such an avalanche of paperwork and regulations and cross-department requirements that it will have become self-sustaining.

Its "business" becomes "interdepartmental support." It exists to create work for itself. It continues even if it never builds another bridge. And the government begins to believe that the community exists for the sake of supporting the government.

Some day, the people will need a new bridge. Their "government" will take over and a week-long project that could be completed with community resources will turn into a two-year nightmare with resources shipped in from all over the world, at great cost to the planet and the community.

Or, you know, the community might bypass their government, leaving it to wither on the evolutionary dead end of the vine.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:55 AM | Comments (6)