I am not a Political Scientist. I expect to be corrected by the experts. But that’s OK. That would help clarify the situation, I believe. What sparks this post is the fact that the concept of different levels of government appears to be a novel idea, even to seasoned politicians. So here goes…

The concept of government is based on the premise that it is necessary to organize the decision-making and functional requirements of any large group of people to produce actions and conditions beneficial to the group. In a democracy, the purpose is to make the actions and conditions beneficial to the majority, while in the case of a dictatorship, it is for an individual or select group. In any case, as the group grows to exceed numbers assembled in a single place, there is a need to create representative decision-making, where the members of the community who are not able to be in that place are represented by those who are. This a the most basic concept of government, and may be effective for a single town or city, but cannot work for the benefit of any group that has grown large enough to include identifiable sub-groups, or communities within the overall community.

The reason this single level of government is ineffective where there are communities within the community is simple; each of those sub-communities also needs to make decisions and create conditions to benefit themselves, and no central government can represent both the main group and the sub-groups effectively at the same time. Let me try an example. The king makes decisions for a country, but his generals represent the various armed forces when he makes decisions about war. The generals, on the other hand, must get opinions and advice from the officers who represent the men in the trenches. No level is more important than the other, but the king dare not try to make the decision without the independent advice from each of the various levels of the armed forces.

For this reason, governments create “levels of government”, each representing a need for decision-making for ”local” needs. In the US, this translates into a Federal government, a State government, a County government and a Municipal government.

For these “levels of government” to be effective, there are just two rules: independent local decisions and fiscal autonomy. This, of course, is the hurdle governments must get over to finally create effective governance. They are reluctant to even consider the suggestion of reduced power. But, as any manager knows, delegation is the vitamin that creates healthy growth in an organization, and delegating the power to make local decisions and create local conditions frees up the central government to focus on the important strategic development of the country.

The Bahamas is the most gifted country in the world (by my standards), but it cannot truly express that fact without the empowerment of all of its people. True local government is not a government decision, it is a primary requirement of good governance.

March 13, 2016