Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Is Consolidation Samller Government?

Lucky you, Fort Wayne! You have your elected officials pondering the consolidation of Fort Wayne and Allen County into something to resemble Indy's Uni-Gov.

Consolidation is very much a political trend of late, with Indy's further consolidation in the merger of the police and Sheriff's departments, and with Governor Daniels recommending the elimination of most of the Township level of government.

Libertarians have been expected to get right on board with these mergers. Libertarians talk about smaller, more efficient government, and consolidation is supposed to be the way.

Caveat Emptor, my friends.

Sure, merger at least theoretically eliminates a layer of management. In practice, it hasn't quite panned out that way. There is still an Indy Police Chief and a Marion County Sheriff, for instance. But, if you want to make sure government is more distant and less responsive, consolidate it and eliminate the Township offices.

Because politics is about power, the larger the governmental body, the less significant any one common person becomes. If you live in Marion County's Perry Township, you have your township officials who are elected by the relatively small population within that Township. If Township government vanishes, you now have your county officials, who in Marion County are elected by the people of yours and eight other more populous townships. They have to be responsive to you, why? In Allen County, plug in Eel River Township.

Also, political power tends to center in the most populous township. With consolidation, all other townships in Marion County are subservient to Center Township. In Allen County, 19 townships ought to get ready to be subservient to Allen Township.

There are all sorts of unintended consequences. Leo Morris blogged these with regards to the merging of laws.

Worth pondering.
-Mike Kole


Robert Enders said...

Unigov means a defacto annexation of all unincorporated areas within a county by one big city. I don't think neighborhoods should be annexed without the consent of the residents.

Abdul said...

Indiana has more friggin government that states 20 million times its size. Consolidate them all! One world government, baby!


Mike Kole said...

Robert- Right on the money. The right to self-determination must be paramount, and nieghborhoods should never be forcibly annexed. Voluntary annexation is perfectly admirable.

Abdul- Is having more smaller governments worse than fewer larger governments?

Again, I will concede that you will do away with some measure of management and possibly some buildings. However, 100 small governments that do relatively little are far less intrusive and expensive while being more responsive than 1 large government that is rather like the Chinese Imperial Palace (aka the Forbidden City) where decisions are made by an elite few and imposed from a great distance.

When is the last time anyone reading this spoke directly with the President of the United States? Try speaking to your Township Assessor. You can pick up the phone or walk in and have a chat. If President seems too remote to be a credible example, just try to reach the Mayor of Indianapolis or Fort Wayne.

Abdul said...

I come from the Borg school of political science, they will all be assimilated! But we'll do it with a smile. :-)

Jeff Pruitt said...

A question about the mind of a libertarian (Mike or Robert)

What do you see as the future of the party? Do you just see yourself as raging against the machine or do you feel that the libertarian party will someday become a viable 3rd party?

Being a Democrat in Indiana (or Kansas) is extremely frustrating but I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be libertarian in this 2-party system.

Does the party just try to focus on specific issues in hopes of gaining support from one or both parties? Or do you foresee a future for the party in some kind of 3-party environment?

Just curious...

Robert Enders said...

Libertarians win when voters are fed up with the other candidates. In a three way race, it's possible to win with just over a third of the vote.
I happen to be running for the 80th District State Representative seat. In the last off year election, only 7100 people showed up to vote in that race. Part of my strategy is to try to get people who don't normally vote in off-year elections to go out and vote.

The strategy of most competent politicians is to emphasis his or her positions on issues when the public happens to agree with those positions. Sometimes a politician may decide to not talk about issues at all and instead talk about character, exprerience, and what a dirtbag the other guy is.

The challenge that third parties face is that people are usually so upset with one major party that they flock to the other major party. A lot of people voted for John Kerry not because they liked the guy but because they hated Bush. And its starting to be a vicious cycle. When the GOP infringes on civil rights, people vote Democrat. When the Democrats overtax us and infringe on civil liberties to boot, they flock back to the Republican Party. America is starting to act like a battered woman who can't decide which abusive boyfriend to live with. It's time to start showing your independence, sister!

Jeff Pruitt said...


As an outsider to your party I think the issue is that voters don't see any coherent strategy (long or short term) from the libertarians. Does the party have a long term strategy to become a viable option? If so, why aren't the American people hearing it?

I personally believe blaming the two dominant parties is just a copout for the libertarians own ineffectiveness. I, along with many other voters, would like to see more parties on the ballots and so I would like to hear your (or other libertarians) rationale for why this isn't happening.

And good luck in your campaign...

Mike Kole said...


I'll develop a post on this, but here are some quick answers.

1. Co-opting. Whenever a 3rd party or candidate gets traction on an issue, one or both of the other parties co-opts the issue to take steam away from them. I view that as a victory, as the two objectives of a political party are to move policy and to get elected. If the other guys carry your issue, it's a good thing. On the downside, it can be the difference between winning and losing the election.

2. The "Wasted Vote Syndrome". Democrats often loathe the Greens because of the Ralph Nader Effect. Republican believe Libertarians take votes from them (a fallacy) and warn their people against creating their own Nader Effect.

3. Third Parties viewed as kooks. The reputation of third parties in general is tarnished in the US. Civics teachers all say "the two-party system" although our government was never intended to be that. The Communist Party was the strongest third party in the US for years, and you know how both Ds & Rs demonized Communists. It has unfortunately stuck to all third parties, that they are all somehow suspect.

I think that the Libertarian Party will show significant gains this year in Indiana. The bigger the gains, the more the other two parties will look at what we are doing and try to recapture the voters who are turning away from them.

For my part, it is my objective to take the Wasted Vote Syndrome head on.

To Republicans I say, if you voted Republican expecting smaller, government and lower taxes, you wasted your vote.

To Democrats I say, if you voted Democrat expecting wider civil liberties and less intrusive government, you wasted your vote.

We tend to run straight on our philosophy, but we are less philosophical and more practical, identifying issues that directly affect citizens and showing how their beliefs coincide with ours, and how the Ds & Rs are letting them down. So, we really have focused on property rights. Eminent domain abuse and forced annexations are two places where people really get us, and get that the other parties are screwing them.

I have a whole lot mroe to say on this, so I'll put it together in a post.

Andrew Kaduk said...


A lot of the problem with a seemingly "incoherent" strategy is really the lack of attention paid Libertarians by the MSM. It's very difficult do develop a political juggernaut if you cannot get some equal air-time or ink from the complacent national media. Libertarians have not yet resorted to Donkey-like publicity stunts or Elephant-like strong-arming to draw the spotlight their way. Libertarians usually use an easily definable set of platform components to attempt to sway voters. However, it seems such a common-sense approach to politics doesn't make for very good TV ratings or increased newspaper circulation, which ironically seems to dictate "what gets discussed and what gets flushed."

Robert Enders said...

You said that blaming the other two parties is a cop out. But a big part of the reason why we are not winning elections is because they are big and we are small. They have been around for a lot longer, so they have more supporters and more money. I don't blame the GOP and Dems for being big parties, we are trying to become a big party ourselves. We simply have not gotten there yet and it will take time.

You asked about why there aren't more parties on the ballot. This is why it is the case in Indiana.
Libertarians already have ballot access in Indiana. My name will be on the ballot on November 7th; there will be no need to write it in.
Greens mostly consist of college students, people tend to become more fiscally conservative as they get older and have to pay their own way in life. So they have trouble holding on to members in the long run and staying organized.
I am not aware of any other minor party movements within this state.

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