What do you do when you realize there’s more government than you can possibly get your arms around, and they’re doing things they shouldn’t? I’m not even talking about wrongdoing – just the natural societal progression from a benevolent but minimally-involved intermediary to an egotistic, overbearing headmaster at the worst boarding school ever?
As I wrote in yesterday’s post, government has a tendency to grow, not shrink. There are too many egos and too much power involved, and not enough citizen involvement to keep it in check. Attending all the meetings could be a full-time job, if only it paid.
In New Hampshire and throughout much of New England, a system of government that has been in use since colonial times is undoubtedly key to the state’s streamlined governments. Centered around town meetings and participatory democracy, the typical practice is that residents of a town or school district gather once a year and act as a legislative body. Instead of abandoning the decisions to council members, residents themselves vote on budgets, laws, and other issues affecting operation over the following 12 months. Yep, you heard me right: the people make the decisions directly – for the entire year.
The prospect makes me giddy.
In New Hampshire, county governments are almost nonexistent. Towns are where whatever power structure there is exists, and their New Hampshirite folk tend to be frugal and independent. It doesn’t hurt that everyone who wants a say in matters has to show up for only two days: once to discuss and deliberate, and once to vote. Citizens go through budgets line by line and can approve or defeat items individually.
It surely sobers everyone up when the numbers are right in front of them and they can see the tradeoff between expenditures and their own household budgets, as the primary means of funding anything in New Hampshire is property taxes. Those property taxes seem fairly substantial when compared to those in our county, however we’re seeing all the taxes in one place. Most of us would feel like vomiting if we received one bill that showed all the taxes we pay. I guess if ignorance is bliss then having multiple layers of bureaucracy has some benefit.
I’ll write more on the state legislature at a later date, but from what I’ve learned thus far, even with a Democrat majority in the state house and being surrounded by nanny states, New Hampshire has a better chance of hands-off outcomes than other states in the nation. As liberals flee economic distress in their home states for New Hampshire’s lower cost of living, there are increasing attempts to institute one government scheme or another, so the state could certainly use an injection of freedom-minded residents. A huge upside of living in a state that isn’t so populous is that it takes fewer folks to keep big government in check.
Like most other places in the developed world, there are frequent attempts to grow government control over New Hampshirite’s lives and wallets. The difference is that more people are standing up and fighting. Another difference is: They’re winning.
From the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers…
Wikipedia – Town Meetings in New Hampshire
GOP Members of Joint Health Care Oversight Committee Call Out Governor Hassan on Broken Promises and Lack of Transparency
House Republican Leaders Comment on Passage of Fiscally Irresponsible Budget
Claremont Narrowly Defeats Tax Cap
Windham, Whitefield Defeat New Schools
Epping Rejects New Library
Deerfield Nixes Safety Complex, School Cop
Gilmanton Defeats Library Funding
Litchfield Budget Fails, Recount Demanded
Antrim Votes No on Road Improvements
Alton Votes Down “Cluster Housing”
Town Meeting Wrap-Up for Amherst
MVSD’s IB Program Lacks Transparency
Meredith Elections Letter to the Editor
Regional Planning Meeting Becomes Contentious
Grafton Deliberative Session Cuts Spending
Maggie Hassan’s “House of Cards” Budget
Voter Fraud Uncovered by Former State Rep
The Importance and Legal Mandate for Right to Know