Success of small, decentralized government (power)

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by eric/, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. eric/ Guest

    eric/

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    #1
    Read a cool article this morning on how Switzerland is doing well in Europe, despite the general recession across the continent. The article discussed some of the features of Switzerland's government, such as an executive council, instead of a prime minister or president, which by law has to represent the top 5 political parties.

    The government in Switzerland also has to respect popular vote, and leads individual canons along, generally, to do as they see fit.

    I think that Switzerland is a prime example of how local governance, and decentralized power lead to a better functioning government.

    Link
     
  2. VulchR macrumors 68020

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    #2
    There is much to admire about the Swiss system. However, it's not always enlightened, for instance women were only given the vote in 1971 :)eek:).
     
  3. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #3
    Yeah, but I think that's more of a fluke then anything.
     
  4. eawmp1 macrumors 601

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    #4
    Probably helps that it is a small, relatively homogeneous country.
     
  5. Happybunny macrumors 68000

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  6. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    Well yeah that's kind of the point. If instead of a broad, overreaching federal government, you allowed homogenous cultures more autonomy in their own decision making, you may have better results.

    And as I see balamw pointed out, having a heterogeneous culture, but utilizing decentralized decision making, allows for flexibility, as well.

    To be more clear, in regard to my first statement, I'm referring to an overall heterogeneous culture, but the homogeneity within certain parts.
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #7
    Anything but. Switzerland is extremely heterogenous, which arises from the very nature of the country. They have four national languages (five if you count Switzerdeutsch as different from High German).

    They need this kind of loose structure precisely because of the large regional differences.

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  8. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #8
    I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at.
     
  9. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #9
    Switzerland is unique.

    You can't expect this system to work anywhere else, it is a byproduct of the way the country was formed (EDIT: relatively recently, 150-200 years ago) as a relatively loose alliance of formerly individual city/states surrounded by larger powers.

    For reference Switzerland has the population of Virginia in an area a bit larger than the size of Maryland. Would such an approach work for California? (5X the population in 10x the area?)

    I lived there for many years, so I am speaking from direct experience.

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  10. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #10
    Well, I'd say that the ideas of decentralization, direct democracy, and better representation could work well anywhere. While I understand that the unique situation of Switzerland has given rise to this type of government, I don't think that means that it can't work elsewhere.

    And for your example of California, well, just break that up even further.
     
  11. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    Sure, why not. Let's have 5 border crossings between LA and San Francisco!

    Don't fool yourself. One of the costs of a Swiss style government is that the government is invasive and can be oppressive. Such as denying women the right to vote until 1971. Such as the police being able to knock on your door at any random time and ask to see your service weapon, or ask for your papers. It's FAR from a libertarian paradise.

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  12. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #12
    Hyperbole.

    Well any government can be invasive and oppressive. Sure, the Swiss didn't let women vote until 1971. That doesn't mean much more than perhaps a mistake was made, or for some reason the Swiss just didn't get it while the rest of the world did.


    Unsure as to what this has to do with anything
     
  13. balamw Moderator

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    #13
    What are you advocating then? You want to break if down further.

    By letting the areas over which laws exist become smaller and smaller you unavoidably need enforcement at those boundaries.

    Simple example. I lived in a college town in a state where the drinking laws were 21+ next to an 18+ state. Guess what happened at the state line?

    The swiss didn't let women vote until much later than many other countries, precisely because it was up to the voters. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_suffrage_in_Switzerland

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  14. mrkramer macrumors 603

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    #14
    Switzerland has a lot of things that only work because it is a very small country, and most of those things would go badly if scaled to a larger country. Based on your previous posts in other threads I'm assuming that eventually you'll advocate that this should be tried in the US. It wouldn't work. For an example of small decentralized government in an area like the US look at the US under the articles of Confederation, it failed within a few years and had to be replaced by a stronger government. Or for a more modern example look at the EU, it's not doing the greatest and I wouldn't be surprised if sometime soon they face the choice between breaking up the EU or moving to closer integration with a stronger Europe wide government.
     
  15. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #15

    You're acting like border crossing can't be made simple or easy, or as if that's such a problem that it shoots a hole through decentralizing power and increasing local level political participation.

    Do you advocate a one world government then, too? After all, there would be less borders.

    Well only if you have a ton of prohibitive laws would you need that level of enforcement.

    Yeah that sucks. Seems to be a fluke. I think it's been brought up 4 times now in this thread, and frankly it's already old.

    ----------

    Which things, and why?

    Don't rely on posts in other threads, or personal bias toward me to influence the discussion. It's a much more productive discussion if we focus on the topic at hand, and posts within.

    But it failed because the states didn't support it. Had they just not made a federal government, well, what would there have been to fail?

    Yeah, I think that highlights a key issue, and lends credibility to why Switzerland is doing a bit better than the EU as a whole.

    ----------

    I'm also a bit surprised at such stern resistance to power decentralization, and advocating increased freedom for people to decide on laws, and elections. :confused:
     
  16. mrkramer macrumors 603

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    You would have had 13 different countries that had nothing to do with each other until the war of 1812 came along when they would have quickly gone back to being British colonies.
     
  17. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #17
    Well that may or may not have been likely. But either way I don't think it matters in the discussion now.
     
  18. decafjava, Apr 10, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013

    decafjava macrumors 68000

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    #18
    Well, balamw took my words out of my mouth regarding eg. the fact Switzerland is anything but homogenous. Since I currently live here (as an expat so with a different perspective) I can while there is a lot to recommend about the Swiss system-especially direct democracy not everything is great.

    For example one has to be very active to keep informed on the issues with all the referenda that take place every year-it can be a nightmare and some of my Swiss friends just vote according to party affiliations - or against parties they dislike. Also sometimes popular sovereignty can clash with notions of inherent rights-the right of women to vote already mentioned but also the fact that some communes (equivalent of municipalities) submit citizenship applications to popular vote. So someone who is not popular because of his/her political views religion might get their application rejected even if they fulfill all the requirements by law.
     
  19. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #19
    Certainly valid criticisms, but obviously not everything is perfect. It seems to me even with these shortcomings that it's a preferable system.
     
  20. TPadden macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    That referendum was quashed locally in 1865 :eek:.
     
  21. mcrain macrumors 68000

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    #21
    How can a "libertarian/republican" advocate for a more direct form of governance, when the people they vote for only get elected because of massive amounts of gerrymandering and voter suppression?

    How about we just let everyone vote regardless of status. How about we let people vote in any way they want. How about we make voting mandetory. How about we make voting districts squares regardless of party or location or power.

    I GUARANTEE you the libertarians and republicans would freak out because that would be the end of their control over our political discourse.
     
  22. TPadden macrumors 6502a

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    No bias there ..... I'm sure you GUARANTEE the Democratic Party would LOVE it :rolleyes:.
     
  23. Eraserhead macrumors G4

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    #23
    Without the US being united it is pretty clear the British would have won the war of 1812. They stormed Washington DC as it was - and that is a fair distance from Canada.
     
  24. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    Eric/'s least favorite thing ... being reminded of what he's said in the past ...

     
  25. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #25
    No the US would have won a decisive battle and Canada would have been divided up among US "countries".

    Neither are provable. It's all conjecture.

    The important thing here is to discuss the future, and methods of government which do and don't work, or work better or worse than others.
     

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