Saturday, February 21, 2009

Restoring Government of, by and for the People

At first, this might sound like an impossible idea, but I think that over a sufficiently lengthy implementation period, perhaps five years, it could be made to happen successfully. Please read this with a long term mind set...

It occurs to me that one way to move our government forward, to make it more in touch with the people again, to make it more responsive to the needs that each of the departments of the government serve, and to increase it's ability to function in a time of national crisis, would be to disperse it.

I propose that each department of the US government be moved out of Washington DC to a new location more aligned with its function.

For example:

Transportation: Detroit, MI (perhaps waning as the best choice?)
Agriculture: Des Moines, IA (heartland of farming)
Interior: Casper, WY (home of Yellowstone National Park)
Energy: Anchorage, AK (our largest energy exporting state?)
Homeland: New Orleans, LA (justice served?)
HHS: Minneapolis, MN (home of the Mayo Clinic)
State: NY, NY (along with the UN)
Education: Louisville, KY (or some place where public education needs help)

I can't even name all of the departments, and I'm sure lots of good thought beyond my thinking ability (and probably graft beyond my comprehension) could be put into the best locations for each department. These are just some examples off the top of my head. Defense should be in the geographic center of the continental US, not sitting on the coast. Why not Minot, ND?

I'm suggesting that the entire headquarters of each of the departments be moved out of DC and to these new locations. There should be a limit of one department per state (or territory). The current employees of each department should be invited to move to the new HQ, or for staff that don't want to relocate, positions would be opened and replacements hired into the new locations. And by HQ, I don't just mean the office of the Secretary of each department, but the entire staff currently working in and around the DC area.

Perhaps their are closed military bases that could be used a centers for the relocation points? The government already owns the land, and there are probably structures that could be used rather than having to start all new construction?

Essentially, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President should remain in DC. The cabinet secretaries would have offices at the new HQ's of their departments, and they would need to telecommute to DC for cabinet meetings. An occasional trip to testify to Congress or something would be as routine as an occasional trip today out to do the Department's business.

Frankly, I'd hope there would be a lot of turn-over in staff. But I don't suggest that it should be done harshly since everyone would be offered a job in the new location. Relocation benefits might not be offered because of the extreme cost of moving all those people.

I expect that there would be no shortage of states offering to serve as host for a department. It would have an economic impact on each receiver, to be sure. Certainly there would be a negative economic impact on the Washington DC area. But it's been living high off of the largess of the federal government for well over 200 years now.

In addition to the movement of the department workers, there would also be a large movement of the beltway bandits associated with each of those departments. This would strictly be by their choice, and not part of any federal action. But business tends to go where the opportunity is.

The survival through dispersion benefit is more of a "knock off" rather than an important part of the plan. But imagine the impact on our country if DC were to be devastated by attack or natural forces. Sure the government has contingency planning to deal with an emergency, but how crippling would it be if it had to be used?

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