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The Federalist Diaries


Walks outside the Box, Part 5

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish literary critic, playwright and essayist,
1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1856-1950

“Walks outside the Box” is about finding solutions when others shrug their shoulders, despair or offer palliatives.  In part 4, we looked at the incident involving the May 1, 2007, demonstrators and the Los Angeles Police Department.  In this part we look at the “community watchdog”. 

Remember the food scares of the last few years?  Tainted meat.  Spinach.  What else?  We depend on the federal Food and Drug Administration to protect our health. 

The potentially devastating problem of identity theft?  We have local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to protect us.  What about erroneous billings by AT&T?  The Federal Communications Commission.  The lottery schemes which defraud people of money?  The federal Postal Inspector and others.  The tragic killings at schools and universities?  Campus security.       

And on and on.  What is common in these?  Somebody else is supposed to protect us.  The operative word is “supposed”.  Am I implying that they do not do their job?  No.  But would you agree that no protection would be perfect, that depending on somebody else for the preservation of life and limb could be fatal, literally? 

A solution to better protect us is to increase the budgets of Federal, state, and local agencies which protect us.  But government has too much debt and all we would be doing is hiring people who do not know us—and we would not know them—to protect us.  Is there a better solution, a sustainable solution? 

Consider empowering people in our neighborhoods to become community watchdogs, trained and empowered to watch after our welfare.  Not as good as our doing it ourselves, but better than having an unidentified person in a far-away agency punching the clock.  A big difference would be that a community watchdog would be paid only by way of reward for uncovering a grave or widespread problem.  (If watchdogs pounced upon every peccadillo, the community might fall apart.)  Our community would budget for a reward fund, but not for salary for community watchdogs.

May 17, 2007































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