As the budget and deficit talks between Congress and the White House drag on, I have been reading a lot of articles, especially from progressive sources, about how people need to act to preserve this or that spending program because of how beneficial it is. Almost every one of those programs shares very specific characteristics: they are almost always focused at a local problem and are almost always focused at helping individuals do something.
Here’s my idea: why not abandon the federal programs and try making these things happen ourselves if they’re really worth doing.
“But,” you might say, “where is the money going to come from?”
Isn’t that kind of the whole point? Because the federal government is taking so much money out of the the economy in taxes, there is no money for local people to do local things. If that reality is the case, then it makes sense to let the federal programs expire, let the money reenter the economy, and let local people take over doing local things.
Of course, the problem is a lot more complicated than that. For instance, even if the federal government makes these cuts, it won’t add up to the $1 trillion in deficit spending projected for next year, nor will it really dent the $14 trillion in debt the federal government has already accrued.
No, even if these locally focused federal programs expire, there still may not be money, and that reality must force local people focused on local things to consider an even more aggressive approach. In my view, it’s time for us to rebuild our localities so that they can withstand the disaster our federal–and state, really–governments have inflicted upon us.
This aggressive approach means abandoning the government solution in favor of hard work and sacrifice at the local level. It means accepting that the government, and the people who continue to benefit from government spending, is going to continue to rip us off. It means deciding to work together to find local solutions to local problems even when there is no money. It means caring enough about what happens to us and our neighbors that we’re willing to do what it takes to make things work for us.
These things can happen, but people have to do them. I will give you an example:
This year, the village of Covington, Ohio and several enterprising individuals started a farmer’s market (Facebook) on Friday nights in the parking lot of the government building there. It’s a small market, one I participate in, but it has the distinction of having no government involvement except at the local level.
Now, this market will live and die on two things: will people from the area who are doing things participate, and will people who live in the area frequent it? Frankly, this is a test of whether people believe a local thing can work, and it’s up to the local people to make it work.
Some might say that it’s just a farmer’s market, but I say it’s more than that: it’s local; it’s independent; it’s focused on the community; it’s the way jobs and the future will be created. But, these things will only be true if people actually participate.
So, here’s the test: will people participate locally, or will they keep expecting someone else to solve the problem for them? It’s up to you to decide.