Why Chuck Should Start a (Local) Tea Party

This video – via Radley Balko’s digs – is a good illustration of the many job-destroying, prosperity-hampering, mind-boggling regulations that various local governments have in place which make it harder for you and me to start and run a successful small business:

Now, one response Chuck could have to all this is to start a political group, maybe a non-profit devoted to channeling election money from anonymous donor. I think you can run these fairly easily out of your basement, and there’s not too many hurdles to getting into the business.

Or, Chuck could become a political activist and join the Tea Party. He could even start his own Tea Party.

And actually, I think that would be a very good idea – but I have one qualifier.

Chuck should not fall into the trap that so many other Tea Partiers have fallen into: national politics. This isn’t to say that Chuck shouldn’t be at all interested in national politics – plenty of the decisions made in Washington will effect his ability to start and grow a business. However, as this video illustrates, many of the real day-to-day problems facing Americans stem from local political shenanigans and from local regulations put in place by local special interest groups. Miami’s ludicrous business-licensing is a homegrown problem. You can’t blame Barack Obama or George W. Bush for the labyrinthine process of getting a business off the ground.  It’s time that the Tea Parties began to focus on that instead of always looking to Washington to place their blame – or their hope.

Would a highly localized, locally-focused Tea Party movement generate as much news or garner as much attention as the current Tea Party movement? Not a chance. But unlike the movement today, it might also stand a real chance of doing some good by exposing and extinguishing regulatory burdens across the country. One way to limit the power of the federal government is to focus more on improving – and limiting – government closer to home. A localized Tea Party movement would be closer to the issues that matter most to voters.

But it would also be a lot of work with not a lot of glory. So if Chuck decides to go that route, he’ll have to live with the fact that he won’t get much love from Glenn Beck – and probably not much love from FOX News in general. He won’t have a chance to wildly distort election results in states several hundred miles away. Sarah Palin probably won’t come to his town to give a speech at $100 a head (plus expenses). And he’ll probably have to do a lot of very hard work against some seriously entrenched special interest groups before the fruits of his labor have any chance to grow.

Which is why I recommend starting a non-profit electioneering outfit instead. Much easier, less stress, better hours.

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13 thoughts on “Why Chuck Should Start a (Local) Tea Party

  1. And people wonder why I find localism to be evil.

    Everywhere I look the local politicians do so much more harm than the national because people look at the national politicians.

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    • @ThatPirateGuy, Might this not be a good argument for localism, though? In other words, a devolution of power from the federal to the local would give people reason to focus more on their local officials than on national officials, and thereby hold local officials more accountable.

      To be sure, I remain a strong skeptic of localism, but I think there’s something to be said for a system that deemphasizes national elections in favor of local ones.

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      • @Mark Thompson, ‘

        I don’t think that people have that capacity. When am I supposed to find out about these local candidates? Local elections are so invisible that I often don’t even know what party the candidate is for. I don’t think I could find 1 person that could name a councilman or board-member of any sort in my social circle. But I can find so many that have quite intense views about national ones.

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        • @ThatPirateGuy, Yes Pirate, but here’s the question. Are local politicians invisible because of something inherent to local politicians and thus are able to pass all these choking regulations by benefit of that invisibility?
          Or
          Are local politicians invisible because all the high profile stuff is in state and national politics and thus no one pays attention to the locals and this lets them get away with all of this kind of crap?

          If it’s the former, then of course putting power more into local hands (localism) would be a bad thing. If it’s the latter then localism would actually improve things by drawing scrutiny to local politics.

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        • @ThatPirateGuy,

          Still, that seems to be almost a matter of personal choice. I may be living in a dream world, but I have a sense that if I were to push hard enough with a better solution, I could help initiate change in my neighborhood, city and even county. But on a federal level, there’s no way I could even be given a change to talk to the guy who knows a guy who’s ever worked for a guy that actually has a seat at The Table – and even if I could, I couldn’t counteract the millions of dollars from status quo interests I’d be fighting to overcome.

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        • @ThatPirateGuy, You know, Pirate, it’s not like it’s especially hard to pick up a friggin newspaper. If your circle are ignorant of local politics, it’s because they’re not paying attention. Now, I’m on the record as believing a certain amount of corruption is endemic to all politics, so I definitely would not argue that decentralization would reduce the total amount by that much. But it’d help somewhat, I’m sure.

          (Of course, in saying this I’m totally self-interested, as I’ve worked a lot in local politics).

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  2. I think the core problem with local issues is largely that most of us elect way too many local and state officials. Whatever bucket of attention people are willing to devote to politics is going to largely be devoted to national issues, then after that to their major state elections. What little is left has to be divided among a cavalcade of local and state officials. The unintended side effect of all this electing is that no reasonable body of citizens can keep track of how all these officials are doing. It’s easy for rent-seekers to influence the elections and the office holders when so little attention is paid to their elections and actions in office.

    This is why I’ve always abhorred the the concept of Federalism as a cure-all for our national ills. Shifting more decision-making power to the state level just spreads responsibility across even more elected state officials and bureaucrats that necessarily receive less scrutiny than national ones and therefore must be even more susceptible to corruption.

    In my dreams we eviscerate state governments to the minimum in favor of more powerful local governments with the ability to do some regional cooperation as needed, narrow the scope of local elected officials and let the national bodies handle whatever is needed beyond that.

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  3. Here we have a great example of “all politics is local.” So many people talk about how they hate govt and/or hate having to interact with govt, but almost never realize that the govt that’s there biggest problem is their local one. Folks rail againt the fed gov for all sorts of things the the fed gov doesn’t control. Tea Partiers march on Washington when they should be marching on their City Hall.

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  4. I realize that the suggestion of starting a nonprofit was tongue-in-cheek. But I’d like to point out that starting a nonprofit is a regulatory nightmare. It requires a pile of paperwork three feet high, very tricky disclosures and mission statement (get it wrong and you are cooked; there’s no way to fix it later), and a whole lot more. This is not a do-it-yourself project, and it’s generally necessary to hire a lawyer. The process often takes about a year.

    If somebody finds the process of starting a for-profit business burdensome, starting a nonprofit is absolutely not a reasonable option.

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  5. Um, just going with the first example, Milwaukie — would you want your next-door neighbor in a residential neighborhood to be taking and making commercial deliveries from his garage? Zoning exists for a reason.

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