A NOTE ON GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE

In the 16 February post on the Affordable and Accessible Housing Crisis Groveton said:

“I want a smaller national government, a much smaller state government and a much larger local government.”

As EMR noted in a comment on that post:

“Groveton is RIGHT but there are two Vocabulary problems with his statement. We will get to that in a new post coming up…”

The first Vocabulary problem is the use of the term ‘local.’

See discussion of the Core Confusing Words in The Shape of the Future. ‘Local” is perhaps the most confusing of those words.

Groveton’s ‘local’ government has twice as many citizens as EMR’s home ‘state’ – Montana has two Senators and a Representative – and is 183 times as large as EMR’s current municipal government – which has done a great job of keeping our street plowed since the 18th of December.

Another problem is the use of the term ‘larger.’

NO ONE wants what jumps to mind (the neural linguistic image / framework) when they hear the words “large government’ aka ‘Big Government’ – not even the most well meaning Progressive.

What is needed is:

Far more levels of governance Agencies – at and below the Regional scale – one level of Agency for each of the organic components of human settlement, AND

Far more citizens ACTIVELY involved in Agencies and in Agency activities – but as citizens and volunteers, NOT as employees. It starts with the direct democracy at the Cluster scale as EMR has articulated for 20 years.

The fundamental principle of human interaction is the Golden Rule.

The fundamental principle of governance is allocation of responsibility to the correct level (and levels) of Agency:

Level of impact equals level of control.

(Shared impact requires SHARED control – NOT higher level UBER ALLES.)

One other observation:

Groveton makes a good point about the idiocy of continuing to place importance on the boundaries drawn up even before the current governance structure was created.

For this reason the whole idea of ‘state’ is outdated and needs, and EMR repeats time and again, to evolve to a structure of New Urban Regions – the fundamental building block of contemporary Urban civilization – and MegaRegions. Much more in TRILO-G.

From recent communication with colleague on the need for Fundamental Transformation of governance:

One of the basic requirements of achieving a sustainable trajectory for civilization is Fundamental Transformation of governance structure. That means evolving a governance structure that reflects the organic structure of human settlement. The 3.5 level governance structure was outdated in 1770 and has just gotten worse decade by decade.

It is not possible to pretend that the 18th century economic, social and physical reality which the current governance structure was intended to serve still exists. The evolution from clans to tribes to city-states to empires to nation-states did not freeze in 1770. Economic, social and physical relationships and reality have continued to evolve even if governance structure and the Vocabulary used to describe governance and human settlement patterns did not.

The transformation from agrarian society to an Urban society has made the current 3.5 level system and the Vocabulary used to describe it obsolete.

In 1800 about 95 percent of the population derived economic support from agrarian activities.

In 2000 about 95 percent of the population derives economic support from Urban / Non-Agrarian activities.

In 1800 ‘society’ was controlled by a few literate citizens and it took those citizens or their ideas three days to get from Charlottesville to Georgetown.

In 2000 it takes two hours for almost any citizen to get from one of those places to the other.

Most of the travelers are literate.

In addition, their ideas, images and money can move 120 miles or 12,000 miles in nano seconds.

In 1800 most of the occupants of the several states could only dream of acquiring what the few at the top of the Ziggurat had AND most at the bottom did not know what those at the top actually had.

In 2000 with instant communications, advertising and entertainment there are immediate “I want (deserve) that too” demands / expectations.

Just 40 years ago those at the bottom of the Ziggurat could expect to earn a living wage that was perhaps 1 / 100th of those at the top of the Ziggurat.

Now the chance of getting a job is less certain and the Wealth Gap is much wider and growing. See Supercapitalism concerning the magnitude of the Wealth Gap problem and trajectory of the widening gulf.

With dwindling Natural Capital and a widening Wealth Gap there is the potential of widespread unrest. The threat of weapons of mass destruction is real and current.

Clearly it is time to embrace the need for Fundamental Transformation

Also see analysis of Green Metropolis (post of 20 November 2009) which provides an overview of the importance of Vocabulary – especially the use of ‘city” – and the need for a comprehensive Conceptual Framework.

EMR


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22 responses to “A NOTE ON GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    What is needed is:

    Far more levels of governance Agencies – at and below the Regional scale – one level of Agency for each of the organic components of human settlement, AND

    Far more citizens ACTIVELY involved in Agencies and in Agency activities – but as citizens and volunteers, NOT as employees. It starts with the direct democracy at the Cluster scale as EMR has articulated for 20 years.

    ================================

    Guaranteed Gridlock. nothing will ever get accomplished.

    RH

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    I think we need a lt fewer levels of governance and a lot more levels of appeal against bad governance.

    RH

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    "In 1800 most of the occupants of the several states could only dream of acquiring what the few at the top of the Ziggurat had AND most at the bottom did not know what those at the top actually had. "

    ——————————

    I don't think that is correct. In 1800 both the farmhand and the farm owner huddled around their respective wood stoves. The top of the Ziggurat is much farther away from the bottom today than then.

    RH

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    "Healthier counties tend to be urban and suburban, while most (84%) of the 50 least-healthy counties are rural, sparsely populated areas where care is poor and the economy is depressed. Rates of premature death are also significantly higher (2.5 times) in low-ranked counties."

    =================================

    Apparently governance structure is not an issue in health outcomes, but money is.

    RH

  5. The prevailing sentiment on this blog is that the residents of Northern Virginia are unhappy, unhealthy, stressed out victims of their own greed living in a cesspool of suburban sprawl. Dr. Risse points to dysfunctional settlement patterns as the issue. RH has qualms with the way property rights are managed. TMT sees the local Boards of Supervisors as the devil incarnate. LarryG blames a lack of affordable housing.

    I, for my part, have been debunking these assertions. Recently, I cited a survey showing that residents of Northern Virginia are far more satisfied with their lives than residents of other parts of the state. I guess the portrait of the average Northern Virginia snarling, stuck in a traffic jam feeling hie or her blood pressure rise is, well, let's say a bit overplayed.

    Prior to debunking the Unhappiness Myth I debunked the Affordable Housing Myth. From Google Earth photographs of trailer park communities in Fairfax County to Weichert.Com listings of affordable housing in northern Fairfax County I have demonstrated that people willing to live modestly can find affordable housing in Northern Virginia. Nobody is commuting to a $600,000 house in Fredricksburg because they can't find a place to live in "core NoVa" for $600,000.

    Today, I will take on the Unhealthy Myth. Presumably, the high stress, sprawl centric, greedy, money grubbing lifestyle of those of us in NoVa would take a real toll on our health. We certainly couldn't be as healthy as those Virginians living in the bucolic splendor of RoVa. If we look at two counties of comparable economic health, one in NoVa and one in RoVa – certainly the RoVa county would be healthier. Right?

    Oh dear … here comes another dose of those pesky facts which infect the anti-NoVa arguments.

    NoVa is, by far, the healthiest part of Virginia.

    http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/News/local/article/HLTHGAT17_20100217-095801/324885/#comments

    Care for a bit more detail?

    http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/virginia

    Economics, anyone?

    Look at Prince William County (10th healthiest) and Henrico County (43rd). Both large, populous suburban counties with almost equal per capita income. Why the disparity?

    I assume that Jim Bacon and EMR will immediately post articles decrying this latest example of people not paying their location variable costs. Obviously, the healthy lifestyles in Northern Virginia relative to the rest of the state cause lower health care costs in Northern Virginia relative to the rest of the state. Since people should ALWAYS pay their own location variable costs, I assume that Jim and EMR will call for health care insurance premiums to be lowered in NoVa and raised elsewhere in the state. Right?

    Leaving the sarcasm aside, it would be interesting to adjust this data for economic conditions and average age of the localities.

  6. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Groveton, I have no doubt that NoVa is healthier than RoVa. That's (1) because NoVa residents have a markedly higher level of education, and the level of education is closely correlated with healthier lifestyles, and (2) NoVa residents make a lot more money, and income is closely correlated with access to the health care system and health.

    To prove or disprove the link between human settlement patterns and health, we would have to carefully control between education, income, access to the health care system, and human settlement pattern typologies.

    Speaking from personal experience, I think that a connection exists. I got a lot more exercise when I worked in downtown Richmond and walked to lunch and/or business appointments. I burned a lot of calories that way! Now, I work at home in the burbs and drive anywhere. The only exercise I get is structured exercise (jogging, treadmill, eliptical, etc.)

    Still, I'll concede that I have not seen any definitive proof linking health and human settlement patterns. Perhaps EMR has seen such a study.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    "Still, I'll concede that I have not seen any definitive proof linking health and human settlement patterns. Perhaps EMR has seen such a study."

    I've seen some, and the results are inconclusive. The agenda driven ones tend to report as Bacon has done: you spend more time in the car and less time exercising. Makes sense to me.

    I don't seem to have that problem here on the farm, but that is a (increasingly) unique situation.

    My father worked on a 40 year long study comparing Harvard Graduates to Boston Longshoremen which reached pretty much the same conclusion that education and healthy lifestyles are closely linked.

    (The going in premise was that Harvard grads would have sedentary jobs and get less exercise than Longshoremen engaging in heavy physical labor. Over the years, shiploading became automated and it was the longshoremen who got less exercise, with predictable results. The initial premise was proven wrong as to group, but correct as to the effect of exercise.)

    As for property rights, I just think that when they are properly described, defined, and protected, then a lot of our other problems go away because it is easy to see what they really boil down to.

    It amuses me to watch environmental advocates grabbing property rights left and right, all the while claiming that there are none or that they don't deserve protection.

    My favorite example is the Burt's Bee's magnate who bought 20,000 acres in Maine, canceled all the hunting, fishing, rafting, and hiking contracts that supported people in the region and reverted the land to a total wildlife preserve. "It's My property, I can do what I want with it." was her comment to all the people she threw out of work.

    She at least bought the property, but there is no point in stealing or buying property without rules to protect it.

    It turns out that deed restrictions or easements are among the most durable property rights around, because they are, as Larry points out, explicitly written and codified. Conservation easement depend on that fact. But it also cuts both ways. A recent case in Florida involved properties, previously platted and recorded decades ago, which were extensively and successivly restricted by new conservation rules, which the judge threw out.

    It was a Pyrrhic victory for the landowners, though. They are still prevented from building by other restrictions for which they are unable to get due process and challenge.

    RH

  8. E M Risse Avatar

    At SYNERGY we call Groveton’s post above: ‘looking through the wrong end of the telescope.”

    Groveton said:

    “The prevailing sentiment on this blog is that the residents of Northern Virginia are unhappy, unhealthy, stressed out victims of their own greed living in a cesspool of suburban sprawl.”

    Speaking for EMR, that is NOT his view:

    His view is that there are a lot more “Happy As Clams” in the Virginia portion of the National Capital SubRegion than in other part of the Commonwealth. (See PROPERTY DYNAMICS – PART ELEVEN – TRILOGY.

    What EMR does say related to Groveton’s assertion is that due to dysfunctional human settlement patterns there will be intense unhappiness in the future but that by then there will not the resources left to pay for the evolution of those settlement patterns.

    These dysfunctional patterns depended on cheap energy and humans will never again see cheap energy. They have burned through billion’s of years of stored Natural Capital.

    (A note on Bill Gates ‘Miracle’ is in draft. Further, as pointed out in PART FOUR – THE PROBLEM WITH CARS, even ‘free’ energy will not solve the dysfunctional human settlement pattern issue – check out the cost and weight of the new all electric cars.)

    Groveton goes on to say:

    “I, for my part, have been debunking these assertions.”

    Not knowing what the assertions are, it is hard to debunk them.

    “Recently, I cited a survey showing that residents of Northern Virginia are far more satisfied with their lives than residents of other parts of the state. I guess the portrait of the average Northern Virginia snarling, stuck in a traffic jam feeling hie or her blood pressure rise is, well, let's say a bit overplayed.”

    They are NOW satisfied because they believe that The Great Recession will pass like the last 9 (+/) post WW II recessions have done. You have heard the one about the fellow who was sure he had avoided having his throat slit only to be told, “don’t shake your head!”

    And then:

    “Prior to debunking the Unhappiness Myth I debunked the Affordable Housing Myth. From Google Earth photographs of trailer park communities in Fairfax County to Weichert.Com listings of affordable housing in northern Fairfax County I have demonstrated that people willing to live modestly can find affordable housing in Northern Virginia. Nobody is commuting to a $600,000 house in Fredericksburg because they can't find a place to live in "Core NoVa" for $600,000.”

    Here Groveton is absolutely right about there being plenty of places inside the Core of the National Capital SubRegion that are available for $600,000.

    What he apparently does not understand is that the Affordable and Accessible Housing Crisis has to do with the 80 percent of the Ziggurat that cannot afford a $600,000 dwelling. Beyond that over 50 percent cannot afford ANY dwelling that is ACCESSIBLE to Jobs / Services / Recreation / Amenity. Those who do not have the ability to obtain Affordable and Accessible Housing are the ones who make possible those at the top of the Ziggurat being Happy as Clams.

    Jim Bacon is correct on the health issue. The evidence is very clear. In his comment, Jim said:

    “Still, I'll concede that I have not seen any definitive proof linking health and human settlement patterns. Perhaps EMR has seen such a study.”

    EMR has seen a lot of them but does not have the time right now to look them up.

    A good place to start would be to look at the last five Planetizen newsletters. EMR recalls seeing one there recently. While there check out Node 42839 from Fast Company concerning the decline of areas with dysfunctional human settlement patterns.

    The bigger issue is you have to have a comprehensive Conceptual Framework and a robust Vocabulary to understand what you are seeing in the data and in the studies.

    That is what Happy as Clams and 12.5 Percenters – and especially Happy as Clams who are 12.5 Percenters are unwilling to acknowledge.

    EMR

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    They have burned through billion’s of years of stored Natural Capital.

    ================================

    Yes, but what's a few billion out of hundreds of billions? It is not like we are running out, not even counting renewables.

    We may poison ourselves before we get through, but we will not run out of energy. There will be plenty to build whatever we diecide will work.

    RH

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    RH, you need to stick to hay.

    "Yes, but what's a few billion out of hundreds of billions?"

    The current concensus is Universe 13.5 B years, Solar System 4.6 B years. Not hundreds of billions of years.

    "It is not like we are running out, not even counting renewables."

    I have never heard Dr. Risse, or any other well informed person, suggest we were "running out." The issue is COST. Humans are running out of CHEAP energy.

    "We may poison ourselves before we get through,…"

    That may also be true.

    "There will be plenty to build whatever we diecide will work."

    For 6.5 Billion humans?

    Not likely.

    AZA

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    The current concensus is Universe 13.5 B years, Solar System 4.6 B years. Not hundreds of billions of years.

    You are right, I stand corrected, but we have not burned billions of years of fossile fuel yet. We are both guilty of hyperbole.

    Cheap is relative. copared to walking and lugging stuff, almost any other form of energy is cheap.

    RH

  12. "Beyond that over 50 percent cannot afford ANY dwelling that is ACCESSIBLE to Jobs / Services / Recreation / Amenity.".

    So, is this 1/2 of the population homeless or unemployed?

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    "So, is this 1/2 of the population homeless or unemployed?"

    Come on Groveton, wake up and smell the roses and stop being sarcastic. This is serious.

    20 percent of the 50 percent ARE unemployed and a growing (but small number are homeless / camping out in someones loaned space) Most of the other 80 are forced to live in unAccessible places, pay too much for Accessibility (transport) and / or are underemployed. As The Great Recession drags on, the situation get worse.

    The first step is to admit the problem, no try to paper it over with sarcam. Tomorrow IS Sunday.

    AZA

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    "You are right, I stand corrected, but we have not burned billions of years of fossile fuel yet."

    Thank you.

    "Cheap is relative. copared to walking and lugging stuff, almost any other form of energy is cheap."

    If you just understood the impact of human settlement patterns…

    In a class back in 1975 Professor Risse said there would always be energy for effecient shared vehicles serving rational patterns and densities of land use.

    Walking is tough when you have to carry a big load — unless there is something interesting to see and do along the way — been hiking latley?

    Walking is very healthy AND when the Urban (or NonUrban) environment is attractive and interesting it is very popular.

    With effecient settlement patterns and shared vehicle systems no one needs to walk (or roll themselves) very far — unless they want to.

    AZA

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    If you just understood the impact of human settlement patterns…

    ==============================

    Have you looked at what happened in the river delta region of China lately?

    It was one of the most "effcient" living and working arrangements anywhere – live and work right on the factory grounds – by the tens of millions of people.

    They have returned to the countryside in droves. China has more unemployed than we have people.

    Tens of thousands of containers sit empty in Hong Kong.

    Meanwhile back home, Metro is shut down for a week, suffers another crash, and turns up yet another $400 million dollars in the hole. It isn't efficient if it isn't sustainable, and metro is rapidly becoming unsustainable. Look for fares to rise and service to decline.

    Risse pontificates on a lot of things, but understands very little. He needs to learn to observe what it is that he sees.

    RH

  16. Anonymous Avatar

    RH pontificates on a lot of things, but understands almost nothing. He needs to learn to observe what it is that he sees.

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Just to document what Anon 12:25 says:

    RH: “Have you looked at what happened in the river delta region of China lately?”

    Has RH?

    Where is “the river delta region”? Pearl? Yangtzei? Yellow?

    “It was one of the most "effcient" living and working arrangements anywhere – live and work right on the factory grounds – by the tens of millions of people.”

    Was or is? Efficient by what standard?

    Some Pearl River Delta MegaRegion settlement patterns are quite efficient but not by the standards that Dr. Risse advocates and discusses in “Read It Now.” Also see Stewart Brand’s recent article in the British magazine “Prospect.”

    Brand presents interesting material including his quotes from Peter Calthorpe and David Owen, the author of “Green Metropolis” profiled in “Read It Now.”

    “They have returned to the countryside in droves.”

    By “they” does RH mean migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta MegaRegion?

    “China has more unemployed than we have people.”

    If by “we” RH means the US, this statement is off by a factor of somewhere between 7 and 15 depending on which numbers (about the level of unemployment in China) one believes.

    What ever the number “they” did not leave because of efficient or inefficient’ settlement patterns.

    They left because they lost their jobs. Those jobs were lost because of US and others stopped buying stuff due to the Great Recession.

    “Tens of thousands of containers sit empty in Hong Kong.”

    More Great Recession impact, not the impact of the settlement patterns in the Pearl River Delta MegaRegion.

    “Meanwhile back home, Metro is shut down for a week, suffers another crash, and turns up yet another $400 million dollars in the hole. It isn't efficient if it isn't sustainable, and metro is rapidly becoming unsustainable. Look for fares to rise and service to decline.”

    An how does this relate to the above?

    Get a grip!

    AZA

  18. Anonymous Avatar

    Was or is? Efficient by what standard?

    Was,it is all closed down now. Efficient by EMR standards, the people mostly lived close to where they worked and walked to work.

    I'll admit to some hyperbole onthe unemployed but we will never really know.

    The point is that when the urban region failed, where did those people go?

    Back to the countryside.

    RH

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    "What ever the number “they” did not leave because of efficient or inefficient’ settlement patterns."

    ================================

    So you concede that settlement pattern makes no difference. There is no settlement pattern there, since the people have left.

    And where did they go back to? Someplace that was more sustainable. A place that offers themm not very much, but more than nothing.

    RH

  20. Anonymous Avatar

    "So you concede that settlement pattern makes no difference. There is no settlement pattern there, since the people have left."

    Is RH insane? Why would anyone make such a statement if they were not insane?

    The last time I was there there were about 50 million people in the Pearl River Delta urban agglomeration.

    Not all of China's 20 +/- industrial unemployed came from the Pearl River Delta.

    Even if they did, that leaves 30 million people.

    Settlement pattern makes a difference, it is just not the reason those out of work left there as RH stated earlier.

    New China Hand

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    There is no settlement pattern where the people have left. there aqre literally miles and miles of vacant factory dorms where no one lives and no one works.

    Most of the people who used to work there have gone back to the countryside, just as many from Port au Prince and New Orlens have done.

    The infraqstructure for "efficient settlemnt pattern" is still in the delta district but millions have simply picked up and left. Others have not, as you point out.

    Therefore it is logically shown that settlement pattern makes no difference. Which is exactly whaqt the quote "What ever the number “they” did not leave because of efficient or inefficient’ settlement patterns." implies. if they didn't leave because of efficient or inefficient settlement patterns then settlemnt patterns didn't make a difference.

    I am only noting that the author of that statement apparently agrees with me. I'm glad someone finally agrees with me,even if it took a Freudian slip to reaveal the truth.

    I don't see anything insane in that. What is insane is insisting that a thing is true, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

    "Settlement pattern makes a difference, it is just not the reason those out of work left…"Here is an EMR style classic empty sentence. Translated this reads settlement pattern makes a difference, just not to the nillions that left. That way the owner of the sentence gets to delude himself with his previous conviction because he is still righht – even if it doesn't make any difference to those that left or to the thousands of blocks of vacant factories.

    THAT kind of cognizant dissonance is wht is insane.

    We have had a thirty year experiment with Metro and it has failed to ive up to the hypothesis presented when it was built. Today it is broke and crumbling. Those are simple facts. If we had it to do from scratch today, we would do it differently, or maybe even not do it.

    It is going to take billions to resurrect the wreck of what we have left. I suggest that maybe it is time to re-think. Instead, we will go full bore ahead with all of our previous misguided preconceptions about the benefits of mass transit still intact.

    That is insane.

    Some people have a problem with my ideas, but since they cannot logically atack the ideas, they just claim that I am ignorant, insane or avaricious.

    This is amusing, since most of the ideas aren't even mine. But the ideas still stand, whatever the Shades say about me.

    RH

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