Monday, 1 October 2018

On regional government - how size and shape can generate wealth or poverty


Constitutional lawyers sideline regional government as a secondary issue, concentrating instead on National or Provincial/State systems.

Federal systems, out of balance

In most Federal jurisdictions, financial power was intended to remain decentralized as a bulwark against opportunism. Contrary to Constitutional safeguards and the decisions of Constitutional Courts, we are presently witnessing a spectacular increase in the centralization of fiscal power. In a climate of opportunistic decision making, we now see the emergence of Conservative/Progressive political divides that challenge the concord of civil society. As these problems seem to arise at National or Provincial/State level, Regional Government is not commonly identified as an important element in dealing with these problems.
There is no demonstrable benefit for the concentration of financial power at a National level in federal systems (save to those who practice opportunistic politics). The root of current day problems lies in the short-term objective, cyclical terms, and opportunistic policies. 

Because of the concentration of fiscal power in centrist jurisdictions, Conservatives only have to be in control for a couple of days every 5-10 years to achieve most of their financial objectives. If they can organize, Progressives can achieve most policy objectives in a couple of months. 

Centralization is often promoted by those seeking equality of outcome between different elements in a Federal Union. Equalization of fiscal, social benefit does not flow from consolidation as, increasingly, opportunism redistributes the wealth of nations in a highly selective manner. Instead, mechanisms developed in the late 18th century provide a solid basis for general equalization. 

Despite all Federal systems providing mechanisms for further decentralization, little decentralization has occurred. 

 This lecture examines the inherent strengths in a substantial decentralization of fiscal power when coupled with equalization mechanisms. It draws on the historical exemplars of devolution and the problems of centralization, specifically Dublin and the free cities in pre-Great War Europe. It examines examples of recent examples of the creation of regional government forms. It identifies problems in existing academic analysis of regional government. It identifies failure associated with naive casts of power and demonstrates how this can lead to poverty. It examines the strengths related to specific casts of power (addressing the issues of size and shape of a polity), and how those casts can generate wealth. 

 Note: This lecture was delivered in late 2018 as part of a course on legal theory. The full lecture will be published a part of series of lectures on the civil law.

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