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The Historical Framework for Local Government in the United States

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Title: The Historical Framework for Local Government in the United States


1
The Historical Framework for Local Government in
the United States
  • A Presentation of David Miller

2
Life a Thousand Years Ago
  • Cities and rural fiefdoms not Nation-States
  • City is sanctuary from lawlessness of countryside
  • A freedom from not a freedom to
  • Cities are becoming the nodes of a
    proto-mercantile economy
  • How do you safely get your goods from A to B?

3
Citi-States or Nation-States?
  • Because cities existed before the nation-state,
    how would the emerging nation-state deal with
    cities? Can both share power? Must one be
    superior over the other? The nation-state -
    master or agent?

4
Association v. Corporation Cities lose Round
One
  • As association free from the the state or the
    sense that individual was part of the state
  • As corporation would be created by law under
    revocable, amendable charters
  • Cities were primarily merchants, agreeing to
    charter status in exchange for protection of
    goods was easy tradeoff
  • Verdict Corporation

5
Nation-State Consolidates Power
  • Charters create legal corporation status
  • Subject(s) to /of the state
  • At first - little interference
  • Slowly expand the conditions of the charter
  • Cities are not democracies - oligarchies
  • Not instrumental in popular, democratic
    government institution building

6
Political Theory I
  • The real elements of society - the sovereign
    and the individual
  • The state of nature - Locke, Hobbes, Bodin
  • Society is a contract between those real aspects
    of society
  • Other societal institutions are ltchurch, guilds,
    citiesgt are intermediary bodies
  • All are extensions of one or the other

7
Extension of Sovereign or Individual?
Cities lose Round Two
  • Europes answer is an extension of the Sovereign
  • Americas answer is confusion

8
Life on the Frontier
  • America - self-constituted religious or
    mercantile associations
  • Little sense of central authority
  • From legal standpoint - adopt the European
    tradition of corporation
  • A corporation is a corporation is a corporation

9
Public v. Private Corporation Cities Lose
Round Three
  • Whaddaya mean? Different types of corporations
  • Early towns owned railroads, minted money, fought
    a revolution, had armies
  • And anyway, how you gonna distinguish types of
    corporations?

10
Political Theory II
  • The State of Nature - Individual enters society
    to
  • Hobbes escape the cruelness of nature
  • Locke preserve property
  • America adopts John Locke
  • The contract and society are means by which the
    individual preserves his property

11
Putting Theory I and II Together
  • Theory I Individual and Sovereignn are real
  • Theory II Society is a contract involving
    property
  • Individual is free to accumulate property, state
    is to help protect individuals property
  • Role of intermediary institutions - the church,
    the cities, the guilds?

12
There are Two Types of Corporation
  • One is an extension of the individual
  • Artificial
  • Contributes property
  • Pursues property
  • Preserves property
  • Protected from State
  • Private
  • One is an extension of the sovereign ltstategt
  • Artificial
  • No individual property
  • Threat to property
  • Function to aid
  • Controlled by State
  • Public

13
Local Government Public or Private?
  • Well, er, ah.......they are both
  • With property owned by the body politic, they are
    private corporations
  • When performing state functions, they are
    public corporations
  • Expand the public
  • Contract the private

14
Local Government in the Early 19th Century
  • A public side
  • Police/militia
  • Roads and bridges
  • Communicable disease
  • Poor
  • Strangers
  • Church relations
  • Governmental Issues
  • A private side
  • Ownership of property
  • Taverns
  • Railroads
  • Shipping
  • Proprietary Issues

15
Exit the Private Corporation Cities Lose Round
Four
  • Add Dillions rule here

16
The Context of Dillions Rule
  • Image of objective, rational government staffed
    by the nations elite
  • Comingling of public and private interests could
    not yield good government
  • Concern that private interests would dominate
    public interests
  • Perceived need to protect private economy from
    government intervention

17
The Real ReasonA National Rail System or Local
Self-Government? Practical Economics Beats
Political Theory Nine Times out of Ten!
18
The Rules of the Game I
  • Local Government is a subdivision of the State
  • The relationship between the state and local
    government is hierarchial with the ultimate
    responsibility for the delivery of public goods
    and services resting with the State
  • Local government is a territorial abstraction,
    temporarily constructed to serve a well defined
    purpose

19
The Rules of the Game II
  • What local government does and is and how well it
    performs its task is empirically testable based
    on standards of efficiency and any element may be
    manipulated to improve efficiency
  • Functional interests are more important in
    organizing and conducting public affairs than
    territorial interests

20
Transition to Alternative View
21
Government How Viewed?
  • Moralistic - A commomwealth, means to achieve
    good community through positive action
  • Individualistic - A marketplace, means to respond
    efficiently to demands
  • Traditionalistc - A means to maintain the
    existing order

22
Government Appropriate Sphere of Activity?
  • Moralistic - Any area that enhances the community
  • Individualistic - Largely economic or related to
    supporting capital enterprise
  • Traditionalistc - Those that maintain traditional
    patterns of relationships

23
Government New Programs?
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