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November 26, 2012


Bud Byrd

I understand your argument, but I am skeptical on it working in government. The current European experiment is an example of a governing union wherein each of the individual states has the upper hand in governing its respective state. The dissimilarity of individual states is a liability in this form of governance. Each state is primarily interested and acts on its own behalf. The union is secondary with little actual power in governing the whole. Under the formula that you suggest, I assume that the United States would become the 'distributed' States of America.

Weakening of the Union would compound the problems of the nation. Can you imagine a Mississippi ever agreeing with a state such as New York on the national solution to any problem. I doubt that the two states could agree on the problem much less the fix. Each would follow the path of self-interest.

The distributed model in business has at its base one basic fact that is lacking in a union, similar to current Europe and seemingly, that which you propose for America. There is a single authority at the top of the corporation to whom each of the distributed business entities reports, directly or ultimately. If the distributed business entities fail to measure-up in their judgements and decisions, the supreme entity has the option of disciplining the subordinate. No such pathway exists for a distributed governance model, federal to state. What would keep a renegade state (with positive or negative motives) from wandering off in its own direction at the expense of fellow states and/or the union of states? Pragmatism would need to run very deep and be a positive for the individual states. Unfortunately, selfishness not pragmatism is likely to reign supreme.

As is happening in Europe, the rich states would become richer, the poor would grow poorer. The wealthy states would attract the talented, the monied. The poor states would be the dumping grounds for the down-trodden, the uneducated, the unskilled. Polarization would become more rampant as the outlines of the classes likely would become more aligned to state borders. Can you imagine the richest states, in skills, money, industry, etc., advocating for the welfare of its less fortunate, or more likely, would you see these states at the top of the heap enacting governing policies that would push (what one party now calls) the 'takers' out to other states lower on the success ladder?

Being the “United States” of America requires strong central governance to ensure the welfare of each and all. While I very much agree with the distributed governance model in business and industry, I doubt the viability of this model for a united nation of states such as ours. For the distributed model to work in a country of aligned states, there would need be a supreme leader with the authority to discipline member states that stepped over the line outside the best interests of the union. I don't think that we want to go there.

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Bud, as always I appreciate your very thoughtful comment. I don't view my proposal as advocating for "The Distributed States of America." Rather, I think of it as "The Somewhat More Federated United States of America." That is, lean a bit more toward Jefferson that Hamilton.

I don't see Congress getting any less dysfunctional in the near term, which makes it hard to address the serious problems the country has. I am hoping that we can make more progress by increasing our reliance on partnerships between the Federal, state and local government, as well as a closer partnership between government and business at all levels. This might help counteract the dysfunctional relationship between the executive and legislative branches.

I may be wrong. I am just looking for innovative Plan B's, as I am not very hopeful about our current Plan A.

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