Why Governments Will Devolve (repost)

smaceach@polar.bowdoin.edu (frank@clark.net)
Sun, 26 Jan 1997 12:43:54 -0500

Volume 1, Number 1
1996 January 1
Frank Forman, editor

Welcome to a new e-zine! This first issue is
made up of an essay by myself. Future issues
will report on the county sovereignty movement
in the American West, where sheriffs have been
telling federal officials to stay out unless
they have permission. Counties have also been
asserting ownership of land controlled by the
federal government.

This issue is being posted to a number of UseNet
groups, e-mail lists, and individuals. All of us
are interested in politics and the future, so I
have hit quite a number of lists to get as wide
a variety of responses as possible. These
include not only overtly political groups, but
those made up of philosophers, futurists,
lawyers, and students of culture.

If you are reading this from one of the UseNet
groups, when you reply, please tell us what
group you are posting from. Should you choose to
trim the list of groups, please leave in
alt.philosophy.objectivism, since that is the
one I read most regularly.

There is nothing in philosophy or political
theory that says governments have to be of any
specific size. They only say what governments
*should* do, not how big they ought to be. And I
am going to refrain from telling the world what
I, personally, want it to be like.

I have been receiving several documents and
newspaper articles relating to these
developments and will be reposting several of
them in future issues. I encourage your e-
mailing them to me. But we do have to take care
not to violate copyrights. I will be writing to
various newspapers and ask for permission to
repost. I think I will get a number of such
permissions, since reposting will help give
publicity and gain subscriptions for small
county-wide papers. And I encourage everyone to
send these papers information you have. Of
course, the news covered in any newspaper
article is not itself copyrightable, but I would
prefer to just repost, since it saves me work
and the way the reporter covered his subject is
itself newsworthy. We should do what we can to
make the locals everywhere know what is going on
in other localities.

In the future, I will compile a list of
resources on this topic. In the meantime, I hope
this first issue provokes rethinking.

by Frank Forman
1996 January 1

I predict a great devolution of political
authority in the United States during the next
few decades. We tend to overestimate change in
the short run--so I won't say much about the
next decade--but we underpredict in the long
run: Herman Kahn, the leading futurologist of
his day got many things right, but he failed to
predict in 1970 for the year 2000 the rise of
the personal computer, the collapse of
communism, the spread of cynicism about
government, or--he weighed more than 300 pounds-
-the fitness revolution.

I don't make my prediction of devolution on the
basis of what I, personally, would like things
to be like. Rather, I base it on the rapidly
declining cost of information. This major change
in technology will result in the devolution of
political authority, no matter who wants it or

Devolution could go down all the way to the
county level. I will discuss the County
Sovereignty ideal at the end of this article.


First, a question: Why don't engineers run
General Motors? They have the greatest knowledge
of cars, not the accountants and lawyers, who
with all the other bureaucrats, add nothing but
congestion and delay. Or so it would seem.
Indeed, the first automobile manufacturers were
engineers, mechanics, tinkerers.

If engineers were to decide what kinds of cars
would be made today, we would have absolutely
first-rate cars, wonderfully designed, but they
would be extremely expensive and would not
appeal to ordinary buyers. General Motors would
go broke. In the early days of cars, this
natural bias of engineers did not matter. Only
the well-to-do bought cars, and the early
tinkerers would make only a few specimens and
probably would know most of the buyers
personally. Their engineering problems were to
get the car moving, not to make fancy
refinements. One early designer discovered that
his car worked just fine out in the country but
that it came to a halt in the city. The reason
was that country roads were very rough and shook
up the gasoline so as to mix it with air, making
for a very primitive carburetor. On smoother
roads in cities, there was too much gasoline in
the mix; so the car stopped. Mechanics did
manage to solve this particular problem, but
without knowing why. The principles of
carburetion were yet to come.

In the car business today, no one down the line
can know more than a piece of the total picture.
Besides engineers, there have to be marketing
specialists (to know whether a design change
will sell), buyers (to scout for the cheapest
sources of supply), accountants (to keep track
of costs and profits, which can be quite a
tricky job), lawyers (as much to counteract
other lawyers as anything else), lobbyists (no
need to explain this), and a good many other
types of specialists as well.

None of these divisions of the automobile
company can get the whole picture. What they do
is forward their own insights to management,
which then decides what to do and issues
directions back down.

So far, so good, and a generally satisfying
answer to why a hierarchical structure exists in
large organizations. Bureaucracies exist because
information is limited. The *depth* of the
bureaucracy depends on the industry in question,
how mature it is, and what the cost of
information is. Change any factor in the
equation and you change the result.

What Herman Kahn, and practically everybody
else, did not predict was that information was
going to get much, much cheaper. Today,
engineers do not have to make blueprints
(remember those?), send them up the chain of
command, get their message distorted at every
link in the chain, and wait for management to
make a decision they may well think is ill-
advised. Or at least not nearly so much as in
the past. Today, engineers can get the
accountants' spread sheets on their own computer
screens and get other information from the
marketing department, the legal department, and
what not. And the accountants can look at not
just a handful of awkward blueprints but a
complex array of handsome graphics.

Management is still necessary, but there will be
much less of it, as well as much more crosstalk
among the separate departments. This is all
because of the declining cost of information.
Corporations around the world are "delayering"
by thinning out ranks of middle managers. Not
only are payroll costs saved, but often the
total output, even though from a reduced staff,

Of course, those in middle-management positions
do not want their jobs eliminated, and they no
doubt convince themselves that the difference
between their in-boxes and their out-boxes
contributes to the overall profitability of
their companies. But they are increasingly
unsuccessful convincing their superiors of this.
Even if they are successful, businesses that
carry an excess burden of middle managers suffer
losses and shrink in size. Leaner organizations
grow, with the result that more and more
organizations are lean. This process, like many
others, works even if no one consciously
appreciates what is going on. It is an example
of what the great economist, Adam Smith, called
the Invisible Hand in _The Wealth of Nations_ in

This profit-and-loss mechanism does not work
perfectly, and dinosaur companies can linger on
for an awfully long time. But it works faster
than political processes, which are constrained
by elections, not profits, since governments
have the ability to tax. But so long as there is
*some* feedback from the governed to the
governors, there will be some brakes upon the
expansion of middle managers and bureaucrats.
The governed will perceive too many managers and
not enough output and, in a system that allows
for elections, will vote in politicians who will
reduce unnecessary layers of bureaucrats. As
businesses downsize, the perception of too many
bureaucrats will become all the more real.
Voters will demand a reduction of bureaucracy.


The system of governance in the United States is
a federal one, with certain functions assigned
to the top level (called somewhat confusingly
"federal" itself), others to states, counties,
and towns, and still others to school districts
and other bodies that deal with specific issues
such as sewage disposal. All in all, there are
about 3200 counties in the U.S., some
16,000 school districts, and I don't know how
many other local governing bodies. Most of the
world's nations do not have a federal form of
government; rather, they have local
administration of national laws. In other
countries, the ultimate authority resides at the
top level, and local elections are held to
decide who is to administer the law, much more
than to make the law.

The information revolution implies a delayering
of government bureaucracy as well as corporate
bureaucracy (or so I have been arguing), which
is what Vice President Algore has been
attempting, with very little success, with his
program to "Reinvent Government." What can also
be done is to move decisions about what
activities to carry out away from the central
government to the states and localities. This is
what is called devolution. Businesses also can
devolve, which is what franchising is often
about, esp. when a local franchise operation
makes most of the decisions about what to
market, subject only to general standards set by
corporate headquarters. Indeed, franchising has
been a growth industry for some decades, while
the general trend of government in this country
has been to centralize. [I shall prepare tables
showing federal vs. state and local financing of
various forms of government activity, now and in
the past, for later versions of this essay.
Federal spending is 62 percent of total
government spending. I am not sure whether this
figure includes grants from the federal
government to states and localities.]

A crucial difference between government and
business, however, is the ability of governments
to monopolize their products and to tax. These
powers can be viewed as wholly coercive or as
resting on the consent of the governed or as any
mixture in between. Brute force alone is rarely
effective in securing obedience, which is why
governments have always promoted ideologies
(which are, in many respects, updated versions
of religions) that gain them a large measure of
consent. Before the nature of capitalism was
understood, there was no other way known to
organize large-scale public works projects (like
irrigation), and to this day national defense is
almost universally regarded as a necessary
central government activity. We should pause
before condemning our forebears, who may very
well have done the best they could, given their
understanding of how things work. Nevertheless,
governments could and did go beyond providing
protection and public works and became
exploitative. Justificatory ideologies became
all the more important. But there are limits on
the power of ideologies, as well as on that of
brute force, and this means that there is a
feedback from the governed to the governors.
Revolution was one primary means of reform, just
plain disobedience another.

Today we hold elections and we Americans have
one of the highest rates of tax compliance in
the world. I would say that our general level of
consent is fairly high, by historical standards,
despite all the complaining. It would seem that
there are *no* conservatives (those who want to
preserve the status quo), *except* our elected
representatives, who want to change things at
most 5-10 percent! This should perhaps not be
surprising, since democratic government is
*supposed* to result in a compromise between
those who want more and those who want less. If
the man in the middle (the "median voter") is
made happy, then the aggregate unhappiness of
all the voters is minimized. But only very few
voters will be close to the exact center,
meaning that only very few will be
conservatives, in the sense of wanting to
conserve the status quo.

All this said, no institution, not even
democracy, works exactly as it is supposed to.
It is not the man in the middle of the whole
electorate that is satisfied but rather the
middle of all the organized pressure groups.
What can be done to alleviate this problem is to
redesign the institution, by way of amending the
constitution or enforcing certain provisions
that have been allowed to elapse. What can also
be done is for inactive members of the
electorate to become active, sometimes by
voting, other times by forming new pressure


Here are my general opinions on how changes in
technology have gotten us into a situation where
the man in the middle is far from the middle of
the pressure groups, and how newer technology is
getting us out. I have, no one has, exact
statistics on these subjects, but hear me out

Our Constitution of 1789 was designed by the
existing state legislatures to both grant the
federal government certain powers and to
prohibit it from having others. (There are a few
things prohibited to the states also.)
Specifically, legislation was made difficult to
enact: majorities of two houses of Congress,
elected by very different principles (by popular
vote in the case of a House with members
apportioned by population, but by the state
legislatures in the case of a Senate with two
members from each state), were required, as well
as the President's signature (the lack of which
could be overridden by two-thirds majorities in
each house). This is *not* simple (direct)
democracy, which would require fifty percent
approval only of one house (the one elected
directly by voters, and no funny business of
having electoral districts of unequal
population). Furthermore, simple democracy would
be unlimited as to the *scope* of government,
unlike the Constitution of 1789, which granted
only eighteen specific powers. And this is just
as well, for simple democracy would allow for
coalition building, with the result that
minorities get what they want out of the
political process by means of logrolling with
one another. Raising the requirement for making
laws *above* fifty percent (or by requiring
simple majorities in two houses of the
legislature) would redress the imbalance and, if
done properly, result in an approximation to a
theoretical democracy *without* the pressure
groups and logrolling. (That there are certain
inalienable rights, meaning ones that cannot be
alienated--handed over--to any government, is
the subject of the *scope* of government.)

Now, looking back, we may very well think that
our Founding Fathers did a remarkably good job
in designing a government that would foster
legislation useful to the populace yet constrain
legislation that rewarded only what they called
"factions" and what we today call pressure
groups or special interest groups. Of course, at
the time, quite a number of men (known as the
Anti-Federalists) thought the proposed
Constitution gave far too many powers to the
central government, and it turns out that only
six signers of the Declaration of Independence
would consent to sign the Constitution. But even
supposing that the Constitution of 1789 was
ideal for its day, the technology of forming
pressure groups has changed, and in the
direction of making it cheaper to form them.
This is because communication of all sorts has
gotten cheaper. The result has been as if only
one-third (just an estimate) of each house in
Congress were required in earlier times to enact

Communication also got monopolized to a fairly
large extent. This has promoted the propagation
of ideology, which, like religions did in
earlier civilizations, increases the sense of
consensus for the political powers that be. In
particular, the number of radio and teevee
stations is sharply limited by the Federal
Communications Commission, and that other
conduit of ideology, education, is mostly in the
hands of government and its legitimizers. This
ideology is sometimes referred to as liberalism,
other times as secular humanism, but may best be
characterized as top-down management, whether in
corporate or federal government bureaucracies.
By contrast, the "right wing" in this country,
made up of low-taxers, isolationists, Christian
fundamentalists, libertarians, inegalitarians,
etc., has little in common except a general
dislike of what _The Managerial Revolution_ (to
cite the title of James Burnham's profound 1941
book) has brought about.

However, as the costs of communication have
dropped even further, this dominant ideology of
liberal managerialism no longer has the hegemony
it once did. The breakdown began with teevee
evangelists, mass mailings of "right-wing"
political candidates, and Citizens' Band radio
and continued with talk radio, which has a
right-left ratio of about three to one. The most
recent innovation, the UseNet discussion groups,
is about ten to one. The dangers of free
discussion have gotten to the point where the
new neo-conservative magazine, _The Weekly
Standard_, had its cover story on its fourth
issue, "SMASH THE INTERNET!" (The cover story a
few issues later was a slam at devolution and
picked Alexandria, VA, as a supposedly typical
city government, as though a government located
in the heart of the Washington, D.C., area could
possibly be typical. Neo-conservatives differ
from liberals, not in desiring less central
control, but in the purposes to which they want
to put it, namely more in the direction of the
warfare state than the welfare state. They
differ also in the sorts of virtues they would
like to impose from the top.)


What talk radio and the Internet have done is
haul up the ideology of central management for
critical questioning and thereby reduce its
legitimacy. They have also publicized the
failures of the managed society. It is a
recurrent theme in history that what begins as
what Carroll Quigley (in _The Evolution of
Civilizations_ (1961)) calls an "instrument" for
expansion that benefits everyone often turns
into an "institution" that leaves the original
purpose behind. Quigley cites football as an
excellent example: what started out as a way to
get undergraduates to exercise has wound up with
those in least need of exercise out on the
field, and those in greatest need sitting in the

At its worst, overextension of an institution
serves only an elite group of exploiters. This
can happen even when the underlying technology
remains the same. Indeed, it is the thesis of
Joseph A. Tainter's _The Collapse of Complex
Societies_ (1988) that further and further
extension of a polity into more and more
marginal areas eventually leads to a collapse of
its authority. What we have today is 1)
overextension of the top-down managerial ethic,
2) publicity about the failures of that
overextension through ever cheaper ways of
communicating that failure, 3) an underlying
change in technology that implies that, even
without overextension, the optimal amount of
centralization of both businesses and
governments is far less than what would have
been optimal in the past, and 4) a general
delegitimizing of some aspects of the ideology
that has gone to justify the central state. This
last factor requires some amplification.

There were actually two, somewhat conflicting,
pre-managerial capitalist ethics in this
country. One was the ethics of frugality as
espoused by Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard. It
advocated steady, patient application of effort
and prudent saving. This ethic was indeed
functional at a time when farming was the
predominant occupation. Later in the heyday of
the "robber barons," a far more risk-taking,
entrepreneurial ethic replaced it. Both ethics,
however, emphasized such virtues as honesty and
hard work.

The ethic that came with managerial capitalism
reversed the trend toward risk-taking. The motto
in a bureaucracy is follow the rules, cover your
ass, don't take risks, don't be too independent.
Indeed, this ethic (if not exaggerated) is
functional for success in large organizations.
(Tomorrow's ethic will revert to emphasizing
risk taking, since creativity in flattened
organizations will be in demand and jobs will
not be nearly so secure.)

What went along with the managed society, esp.
in government, was the general feeling that
everything could ultimately be brought under
management. This gave rise to central planning,
if not in its full-blown form of socialism, at
least in the idea of Keynesian macro-economic
management of the business cycle and the
reduction of unemployment under the general
rubric of "fine tuning" the economy. But what
also came along was the whole environmentalist
ideology that differences in people's fortunes
were due to differences in their upbringing,
which differences could be solved through better
schools and home environments, all of which
would need to be planned.

Those who resisted such planning were branded as
authoritarian and even antisemitic, esp. in the
famous study by Theodore Adorno, et alia, _The
Authoritarian Personality_ (1950). Those
resisting suffered from psychological disorders,
which could be cured by what has come to be
known as the "therapeutic state."

[There is one aspect of the whole managerial
mindset that I have never been able to fit into
any general picture. This is why the current and
doomed elite emphasizes short-term gratification
and hedonism as opposed to the traditional ethic
of hard work. Certainly, businessmen would like
to sell their products and might indeed want to
foster short-run consumerism, but they also need
diligent employees. Politicians also should be
favoring cultivation of the virtues that make
for economic expansion. As far as I can tell,
what happened was that the rising managerial
elite simply wanted to undermine and weaken
*everything* in the old order of entrepreneurial
capitalism and wound up attacking too much.]

Education, another thing that could be managed,
was seen, even before mass psychiatry, as a key
part of the managerial society. That mental
problems have chemical or biological roots was
heretical until miracle drugs forced the issue.
And today the notion that some individual school
children are just dumb for genetic reasons is
still nearly taboo, while the notion that some
groups might have differences in average
potential is completely taboo. As for bad
students being themselves to blame for not
applying themselves to their lessons, this is
only partly recognized in elite discourse, the
partial recognition coming from the prospect of
having credentialed psychiatric social workers
take over from families and manipulate the
poorly performing children according to their
expert lights, with accompanying employment
offers to planners of all sorts. For some
decades now, only half of the staff in the
public schools are actually classroom teachers,
while in colleges and universities, professors
make up only one-third of the staff.


I seem to have gotten into the complaining mode,
while I started out just arguing the general
case that the rapidly declining cost of
information warrants devolution of government.
This would be the case, even if there were
nothing to complain about in the way of
overextension of the scope of government and
runaway bureaucracy. It is just that, where
there is such overextension, if the information
costs of raising a ruckus are low enough, the
ruckus will be raised. This is exactly what we
are seeing.

Back to the beginning, which was about
predicting the future regards devolution of
government. As I said, we overestimate short-run
change and underestimate long-run change. So we
should not expect a *sudden* devolution of
government. But pressures can build up so that a
major change long in the making does happen
suddenly. The collapse of communism is the
handiest example. A sudden new technology can
work sudden results, also. The prospect of
cyber-cash, where transactions can be made
outside the all-seeing eye of the tax collector,
could well mean the end of the federal
government. I noted earlier that tax collection
is comparatively high in the United States, but
I am not sure how much this is a matter of the
taxpayers feeling that the federal government is
worthy of their support and how much it is due
to the efficiency of the Internal Revenue
Service. Economists have tried a number of ways
to estimate the size of the underground economy,
and their methods converge to about ten percent
of GDP (lower than in many other countries).
Payments for personal services can be paid in
cash, and so can payments for goods at small
businesses (including those for drugs), though
there are certain risks of IRS spying. But
larger transactions generally either go through
banks or else you *want* the transaction to go
through a bank (or otherwise be recorded), so
you can write them off your taxes.

If banks go underground, as has been the case
with the Tong gangs in Chinatown in New York
City, then the IRS is in big trouble. But *you*
are in trouble if the bank absconds with your
money! (The Tong gangs have their ways of
dealing with such things.) How things will work
out in the balance, and whether the Feds will
set up draconian regulations and even a police
state to get their money, cannot be predicted.
This did not stop the cyber guru John Perry
Barlow from saying that paying taxes would be
involuntary within six months. (He made this
statement about five months ago.) But there is a
distinct possibility of a quite sudden collapse,
not the collapses that took place over one to
five *hundred* years in the civilizations whose
collapse Joseph Tainter described.

There *was* the possibility of the new
Republican majorities in both houses of Congress
starting a revolution during the First Hundred
Days that would steamroller on and on. This did
not happen, and we shall have to wait for the
Congressional elections in the Fall to see
whether the newest batch of freshmen is more
radical than the current one. Then the
steamroller might resume.

All this depends on the assumption that elite
opinion is wildly out of synch with popular
opinion. This was certainly the case in the ex-
communist countries, and this allowed for a
sudden catching up to take place. No such
presumption of a gap of this magnitude can be
made for this country, however much it may
appear to be the case among the most vocal
complainers. The reason is that almost everybody
has bought into the egalitarian ideology that
legitimizes the managerial society. True enough,
top-down management is no longer seen by a
majority as a solution to problems, but most of
the current programs at the federal, and even
the state, level will continue as long as they
ostensibly support egalitarian and
redistributivist ideals that almost everyone
accepts in some degree or another. In fact, as
Gordon Tullock argued in _The Economics of
Income Redistribution_ (1983), only about five
percent of government spending in fact goes to
take money from the rich and give it to the
poor, the *same* percentage as a hundred years
ago. There is more total redistribution, but
only because government is larger. Most of the
redistribution, such as Social Security, goes to
groups whose merit is an ability to get
organized, not to groups whose merit is being

More importantly, no one is eager to go first
when it comes to reforming government, and many
of those on the receiving end fear that the
states would not give them as much as they are
getting from the federal government. The reason
for this fear is that taxpayers would move from
high to low taxing states, while taxeaters would
move from low-paying to high-paying states. This
process used to be somewhat dampened, for states
could impose a residency requirement on welfare
recipients until the Supreme Court made it
illegal about twenty years ago. Actually, net
transfer from the federal governments to the
states is extremely slight. That elite opinion
can talk about a "race to the bottom" as states
would scramble to lower transfers to the poor
shows how entrenched managerial/egalitarian
ideology is. The implication is that the amount
of transferring done by the state that does the
most transferring is doing the *correct* amount,
not the state that does the least.

Back to predictions: I predict that, well within
the next fifty years, egalitarian and managerial
ideologies will have largely crumbled. But,
given that taxeaters have the vote, I do not
predict that the transfer functions of the
federal government will have disappeared, but
simply greatly reduced in scope. What I can say-
-no one I have discussed this with disagrees
with me--is that if Washington, D.C., were nuked
and did not get up and going within six months,
people would have gotten so used to doing things
without central permission that the federal
government would not get reconstituted. But
barring this, or a cyber-cash revolution, a good
deal of federal activity will continue. Not all
of this is bad by any means, and my test is
whether the activity would have arisen again
from the bottom under a system of county
sovereignty. I do not predict that county
sovereignty will become a fact, but I would not
be surprised to see it espoused as an ideal, now
shared by only a small minority that employs a
construction of the Articles of Confederation,
which they regard as the true binding and
operative document in our country. I close with
a statement of the county sovereignty ideal.


Counties, often described as no larger than a
horse-and-buggy's day drive from the county
seat, will be the basic unit of sovereign
government. Counties can pass pretty much any
laws they choose, with respect to the
establishment of religion or public education,
the level of taxes, the activities regarded as
crimes, the regulations governing occupations,
pollution, and marriages, the sorts of public
libraries and parks to be provided by the
taxpayers, immigration policies, etc. The
counties can, and often should, pass their
authority down to still lower levels of
jurisdiction (towns, school districts, etc.),
but these lower units will not be sovereign.

Counties can certainly cooperate with one
another, and of course they will, from such
elementary things as making sure roads connect
at county boundaries and on up to coordinating
contract and tort law. The counties may, and
will, empower governments at the state level to
do these various jobs of coordination, but the
states will not be granted the power to tax. At
the next higher level, states can cooperate with
each other and empower a federal government, but
it, too will have no power to tax. And nations
can cooperate with one another, too, as they do
through several dozen international bodies, the
United Nations among them. The U.N., contrary to
what many right-wingers assume, does useful
things, such as coordinating air traffic
throughout the world. (Did you know that air
traffic controllers all speak English?) But the
U.N. has no power to tax (neither did the
central government under the Articles of
Confederation) and can only do what the member
nations allow it to do.

I predict that levels of government above that
of the county will continue to do useful things,
even if we were to start all over again:

*Patents and copyrights (here at the national
and even the international level).

*Settling boundary disputes and disputes among
inhabitants of different jurisdictions.

*General collection of statistics and scientific
information (weather maps, even if they might as
well be privatized). I have never seen a study
showing government incompetence in such matters
to be anywhere nearly so great as in other

*Promulgation of standards of such things as
weights and measures.

*Subsidy of research that benefits people across
jurisdictions and even nations.

*Agreements on how to deal with problems that
extend over large geographic areas, such as
*some* forms of pollution and the depletion of
ocean reserves. But, as Gordon Tullock has
argued in _The New Federalist_ (1994), very few
of what are called "externalities" extend beyond
a county or a neighboring county. No economist,
as far as I know, has ever made a thorough study
of the matter.

*But probably NOT regulating money, which may be
made obsolete even on a John Perry Barlow time
scale by brokerage houses that offer to store
money in a fluctuating mix of national
currencies. (Just because something is obsolete,
I hasten to add, does not mean it will go away.)
I would not be surprised if the banking world
converged on a single, global currency and
suspect the reason why national currencies exist
is so that governments can raise revenues
through that disguised form of taxation known as

*But probably NOT much in the way of the
military. It is world trade that brings world
peace, esp. when capitalists of all countries
own property in all other countries. They do not
want their properties seized and will use their
clout to prevent wars. Besides, if the county
were the sovereign entity and some other nation
decided to invade this country (for the first
time since 1812), WHO would he go after? And in
a country where the citizens are already armed
to the teeth, how could it possibly defeat the
militias? Indeed, we could do worse that to give
Russian capitalists pieces of our national parks
instead of feeding the defense contractors.

What *will* happen is that governments at the
county level will furiously compete with one
another and become far more efficient at
providing services. They will also give the
locals far closer to what *they* want than can
be done at higher levels. As to the question of
whether cyber-cash will do in government at even
the county level, the answer is no: property is
still there to be taxed and cannot be whisked
off to cyberspace.

However far devolution goes, county sovereignty
should become an ideal or benchmark against
which to compare reality.