If only we knew … how to balance local control of government with societal equality

By Jonathan Taplin, Director, Annenberg Innovation Lab
University Of Southern California; Author, Outlaw Blues

In the corporate sector, the notion of pushing power to the edges of an organization is fairly settled practice. As Lew Gerstner said when he came into IBM, “we need to lower the center of gravity in this organization.” By which he meant that power had to be pushed down from the Armonk HQ to regional managers.

The problem with this concept of “subsidiarity” (the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level) in a government function is that it gets tangled up with freighted concepts like “States Rights.” How do we push decentralization while still preserving some basic common standards that apply across the country? Now some libertarians will say that if schools in Texas insist on teaching creationism, people will vote with their feet and move to more enlightened regions. But I’m not sure that is a reasonable answer.

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