Billy Beck:

Ed Rasimus minutes:

“But, my point…(drum roll, please)…’devolution.’

I don’t equate it as Smith does with societal reversion or decline. The classic definition in political science of devolution is one of a reversal of the 20th century dismantling of the Constitutional federal system. It is a rediscovery of the 9th and 10th amendments and the basic principle of delegated and reserved power. It is emphasis on enumerated and aversion to implied powers for the feds.

In short, it is relinquishing of federal power and intervention and return of discretional authority over a wide range of local issues to the local governments for local solutions, approved and funded by locals. In short, not a bad thing.

And, therein lies my problem with Smith. Exactly the opposite of classic devolution is what is occurring. The ‘State’ is becoming the monolithic, Hannah Arendt totalitarian system and the state/local governments reduced to mere functionaries and enforcers. And, the states, obedient to their citizens are begging for the privilege.

Hence, my different but equal pessimism.”

Ed hits on a crucial political point, which is that Smith’s devolution, while accounting for reduced government “services” (we should call ’em that), is not doing justice to facts of consolidation and enlargement of power. Remember that victims of the great twentieth century tyrannies suffered terrible material conditions (definitely: “reduced services”) under ruthlessly centralized regimes. (These regimes had finally resolved their raison d’etre: it’s never about “services”. It’s always about power.) Whether the trash gets picked up on time is impertinent to the facts of government integration going on now in every dimension at unprecedented rates. If the former represents “devolution”, the latter most certainly does not.

If I’m reading you correctly, I gotta agree, here. I know you’re not going to like this, Billy, but when the founders came along with the concepts of our form of government, they thought the receprocity thing (mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation) to be an advancement… an evolution in government. An improvement.  As our government has become increasingly centralized in Washington, I’ve considered it moving away from those ideas and ideals… a devolution.

I ‘get’ that it’s not the degree of freedom you would seek,(they still had some evolving to do) but I think we’re in agreement it’s a lot closer than what we see out of the federal government these days.