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The Federalist Diaries


Is Everyone “LOCO”?, Part 4

"Now that we have exceeded so many of our limits -- personal, emotional, relational, physical, financial -- we have no margin at all.  Yet because we don't even know what margin is, we don't realize it is gone. We know that something is not right, but we can't solve the puzzle beyond that.  Our pain is palpable, but our assailant remains unnamed."
-- Richard A. Swenson, M.D., American physician, author, educator

In part 1 about “LOCO”, “Limits on Constructive Output”, it was said that our lives were too complex for us to make the right decisions all the time.  In part 3, we identified two culprits, population growth and idealism.  We left with the question, “If we did take LOCO into consideration, what would we be doing differently?” 

As for population growth, it would be good if we decreased population density, but we are not going to lower the birth rate quickly or find unpopulated land to settle soon.  Yet, there is another solution:  let communities be more autonomous.  Give them greater latitude to customize solutions to their local needs.  Let them define community boundaries and enforce those boundaries. 

Does it not seem strange that California, with well over thirty million people, has so many inflexible statutes with which communities must comply, especially in light of the diversity of cultures in California?  How many times does Montebello’s city council consult with the city attorney to learn whether an action would be in compliance with state statute? 

Yes, there are possible disadvantages to greater autonomy for communities.  A community might decide to ban a certain ethnic group from ownership in its neighborhoods (however, a news item from “World News Tonight with Charles Gibson”, March 7, 2007:  a subdivision of Lubbock, Texas, will not permit sex offenders to buy homes) or there might be conflict with the state or federal constitution with regard to permissible zoning, pollution controls, business regulations.  An interesting “compromise” would be to give communities more legislative autonomy, in exchange for greater federal judicial oversight.  Also, it should be noted that advocacy for local autonomy is not the domain of  conservatives only.  This writer found it interesting, but not surprising, that one of the “Ten Key Values” of the U.S. Green Party was decentralization: 

...Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens. 

As for the bind in which we put ourselves through our idealism, why do we have “No Child Left Behind”?  Is it to assure every child that he or she have gainful employment upon graduation, or that he or she have the opportunity to own a Mercedes and a house in Beverly Hills?  If the former, then we could take the pressure off of  teachers bound by “No Child Left Behind”, by redirecting funds into gainful employment upon graduation.  How?  Imagine if a billion dollars in greenbacks were used as a reserve for ten billion dollars in local currency.  ("Local currency"?  See the community lesson entitled “Is It Legal to Print Money?  Yes.” at  A local currency could be used to ensure gainful employment.  To get more bang for the buck, we could use a local currency to pay for jobs which would assure a better quality of life in a community, like more coaches for youth sports, more tutors for youth, more crossing guards, more exercise leaders and food gardeners. 

Different matter.  How did LOCO result in this writer being excused from jury duty?  Before a jury was impaneled, voir dire was taking place, that is, jurors were being selected, for a trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, Norwalk, in November, 2006.  One of the attorneys asked a question, and this writer explained that the length and complexity of jury instructions were proof that error could creep into a trial, that we could not assure justice.  (How often have you heard of a mistrial?  Recently, in the case of “Scooter” Libby, who worked for Vice President Cheney, a juror was dismissed for having been exposed to news about the trial.  The jury deliberated for ten days before reaching a verdict.)  This writer said that he did not believe in jury trial; he was excused from jury service.  Another example.  The fallibility of our system of justice was underscored when the potential juror sitting next to this writer said that her English was good enough to bring her to a voir dire but not good enough to understand everything which the judge said. 

What, then, can be done to assure a less fallible system of justice?  That will be explored in part five of this essay.

March 8, 2007






























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