Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Swine Flu & Limited Government

It is surprising that a conservative approach to handling the recent swine flue would show up in the New York Times but it did. David Brooks has written a piece in the NYT's op-ed called Globalism Goes Viral in which he argues that decentralized institutions are better than centralized institutions in handling threats.

David Brooks' arguments can be be applied to the debate over whether or not the size of our government be big or small. The Founding Fathers knew that decentralization always works best and that's what they had when they set up a Republican form of government.

A decentralized institution, regardless if is to handle a health crisis or manage the affairs of a nation, is the best way to go. Here's what David Brooks said about why decentralized institutions are better at handling problems:
It is a fact of human nature that in times of crisis, people like to feel protected by one of their own. They will only trust people who share their historical experience, who understand their cultural assumptions about disease and the threat of outsiders and who have the legitimacy to make brutal choices. If some authority is going to restrict freedom, it should be somebody elected by the people, not a stranger.

Finally, the decentralized approach has coped reasonably well with uncertainty. It is clear from the response, so far, that there is an informal network of scientists who have met over the years and come to certain shared understandings about things like quarantining and rates of infection. It is also clear that there is a ton they don’t understand.

A single global response would produce a uniform approach. A decentralized response fosters experimentation.

In a few short paragraphs, David Brooks has successfully made the case for why a smaller, limited, decentralized government is better than a larger, expansive, centralized government.

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