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The History of Government


Our view of the History

How You can Participate


The history of government is synonymous with the history of our specie. We start with the family and expand to the clan with democracy emerging immediately and then giving way to dominance of the strong individual. Our understanding of our early history is clouded by the intensity of our recorded history and we might be wise to invest in understanding better the history of government as it evolved from about 125,000 BP (before present), when it is likely that our specie developed to our current form, to about 12,000 BP when our specie began settling into more or less geographically fixed communities. There are different opinions about the time span of this evolution. For our purposes, the duration doesn't matter so much as the fact that we have gone through stages culminating in what exists today. The earliest stage is represented by the "talking stick" while the current stage is distinguished by redundancy. Everywhere you look there are mayors and governors, councils and legislatures, commissions and task forces with little or no capacity to sort out who is accomplishing what and at what cost. For example, New England may not need six governors or six commissioners of human services. Certainly, Aroostook County Maine does not need 16 superintendents of school but we have few agreed upon measures to help decide what government structures are needed in our communities so we tend to go with the same old same old whether we need it or not. The costs and benefits of this redundancy are poorly understood but we, at the Center, believe there is great potential in thinking differently about how we organize government.

Various forms of representative democracy flourish around the world. Dominant individuals maintain more or less of the power depending on how effective the people are in making their voice heard. Wealth and power tend to go together so the extent to which representatives are able, or even interested in, representing a greater proportion of their constituents depends on the ability of the constituents to hold their representatives accountable in a meaningful way. We would estimate that that accountability is at a level somewhat less than 10% of what one would find in the public sector. We believe, significant potential rests with the people of any community to increase the productivity of their government through holding their leaders accountable more effectively. The Brownfield Maine Taxpayers Association purports to do just that but there are too few agreed upon measurable outcomes in Brownfield and there is no comparable set of outcomes from other similar communities against which to compare the outcomes Brownfield voters do agree on. The Center for Government Functionality is building a database that voters in communities like Brownfield, and in communities like yours, can use to better hold their leaders accountable. Click here to see How you can participate in that project. Click here to see Our View on the history of government.