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State protection for citizen rights should temper ‘local control’

State protection for citizen rights should temper ‘local control’

by Rob Natelson

“Local control” is something politicians promote or ignore at their convenience. The U.S. House of Representatives, led by a Republican majority supposedly dedicated to returning power to the states, just voted to override state design and safety rules for self-driving cars. In Colorado, opponents of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) began touting “local control” over fracking only when they lost a bid for a statewide ban. And their so-called “local control” proposal would have allowed cities and counties only to tighten anti-fracking rules, not to loosen them.

Political hypocrisy aside, keeping government close to the people is generally a good idea. Most of the famous bursts in human intellectual and technological progress have occurred in places featuring considerable — sometimes extreme — political decentralization. They have included the city states of ancient Greece and of Renaissance Italy, 17th and 18th century Britain, and 19th century America, among others.

So when is local control good in reality rather than merely as a slogan?

Read the whole article originally published in The Hill on August 28, 2017.

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Rob Natelson
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