When Less is More

The time has come to get less out of our government. That’s right, less.

Societies operate in an invisible web of social contracts that define our mutual expectations in the pursuit of public goods through collective action.  We endeavor to capture the benefits of specialization and distributed authority in a manner where all of us are better off.  We reject schemes of isolation and independence by granting our proxy to others so that we might all enjoy greater security in our individual pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.  Today, our biggest contract—between the people and their government—is in a perpetual state of breach: all are not better off.  And, we all share culpability.

This social contract, facilitated by taxation and representation, has been compromised by a combination of neglect and over-expansion.  This is arguably a byproduct of prosperity. Fewer of us hold our representatives accountable.  Most of us don’t even vote.  We’ve come to expect too much; our cradle-to-grave concept of social services is unsustainable.  Most of what we argue about in public fora today was never contemplated in the bargain our Founding Fathers struck with the colonies.  It’s time to rollback our expectations and take our future back.

While the Republicans rail about waste, the Democrats cite inequities.  While the Republicans want to privatize public services, the Democrats implore us to expect more out of our government.  Both parties are wrong. The path forward starts by retrieving our resources and reclaiming authority to re-deploy them in new structures and processes.  In the old days, we called these communities.  Today, we can do even better.  Objective-specific networks comprised of individuals, companies, and non-governmental organizations must take advantage of new technologies to solve problems and produce public goods.  I call them “amoeba networks,” fashioned after that single-cell, highly adaptive, cell of an organism.  Imagine layers of amoebic networks that span many issues—open, transparent, and free of ideological hyperbole.  Many of the issues related to healthcare, education, and the development of alternative energy would be better served under networks unencumbered by laws that hinder innovation and entrenched, archaic systems of distribution.

Call your congressperson today.  Ask him or her to promise less.  Tell them we’ll fend for ourselves.  By retrieving our resources and reclaiming authority we can all be better off. Less can be more.  The alternative staring us in the face is simply unacceptable: where more and more becomes less and less.