Decentralizing Power

I recently wrote a piece about decentralization. It was intended to introduce the topic and present the idea of decentralization being the hope of the future, because it offers the greatest chance for people to live free. I believe this more than ever and it’s the very thing that keeps me optimistic about the future.

I must confess that I have long been a pessimistic person. I haven’t always been a pessimist. I can remember in my youth being an idealistic person, but age and experience sadly caused me to become more cynical. I don’t like that and I’ve tried to change it but there’s some part of me that sees the glass as half empty.

I have talked to a lot of people, since the lockdowns were first instituted in March of 2020. Many of my friends, and people who I hold similar beliefs with found themselves for the first time, cynical, and in despair over the state of people’s willingness to put their freedoms aside, and willingly have others dictate how they live or not live. I would be lying if I said, I didn’t feel similar feelings. I still remember walking downtown in my community and feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness but thankfully for me, it didn’t last long.

That whole experience stirred something inside of me and gave me a sense of purpose for something more.

March 23, 2020 was the day I came alive. That was the day my state lockdown was put into place and more important it was day that I had a vision for something more. I launched my new business that day, and I started to study with intense fervor this idea of decentralization.

The idea of decentralization is essentially to have multiple authorities instead of one singular control. The idea of decentralization is so important to me, because if we want freedom to exist, we must allow the concept of control to be transformed. We must have greater transparency by sharing responsibilities and break this idea of control as a singular concept. We must have multiple strains or layers of systems or as I like to call transparent checkpoints to ensure that we are allowing people to experience freedom.

I think there are three basic tenets that we must be fighting for in the area of decentralization within our current cultural context. They are to decentralize power, decentralize money, and decentralize education.

I think if we can begin to decentralize these three areas, we will see more freedom. If we really want freedom, we must decentralize. I hope to write two other pieces, on the ideas of decentralizing money and decentralizing education, but I think if you can break down those power structures, we may have a greater opportunity to decentralize more.

The concept of power is nothing new. I’ve spent the last seven years serving in local government. I have a love-hate relationship with the whole idea of even being involved in government. If you had told me as a child that I’d be in a government role, I would’ve laughed at you.

My desire to get involved started with a frustration in the power structure that I saw in my county government. I saw a lot of things that I did not like. This caused me to want to fight against it. I really got into county government with a passion to be on a crusade and fight against those things that I did not like.

What I learned quickly was that there is definitely a power structure in place. It became apparent to me that power is often centralized with the hopes and intention of controlling the agenda. If you can control the agenda, you have greater control. In my county this is why people want to be elected or appointed as a committee chair.

Power is a very strange thing. I would like to share a story about why I say this. When I first got involved in my County Board there was a group of people that obviously had great influence. They definitely influenced the narrative and in many ways they controlled the agenda of where the County would go.

This group was made up of people who had been on the Board for a long time. They also had different roles of influence from roles as committees chairs, etc. What this group really did well was concentrate their power by working together. They formed a centralized coalition. It worked for them.

Shortly after I got on the board, I began to see cracks in their power when more and more people became frustrated with that regime. I would often work with both groups depending on the issue, but I too, was becoming disenchanted with the power structure. Two years into my time on County Board, we had an election, and a group of people worked together to elect a new County Board Chair. This was an interesting time because I saw firsthand the transfer of power take place. I wasn’t in favor of the change, but it happened nonetheless and I saw new faces take leadership roles, myself included, but people were still prone to try and concentrate power. This was my rude awakening.

What I learned from this experience was, you can change the people, but if you do not decentralize the structure, it can be meaningless. I look back now and I realize that the mistake that was made was people hoping that by putting new people in positions of power that would be the answer. What happened instead was the age old statement that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It takes a unique individual not to become corrupted without them even knowing it.

I think this is what we are seeing maybe happen before our very own eyes. I think we’re seeing people become disenchanted with the power structures across the USA. My fear is we will make a similar mistake and simply try to change the regime. That’s not the answer. We must decentralize the very power structures.

This is why decentralizing power is so important.

You cannot simply change the people. Elections in and of themselves are not the answer. It is the very system or structure behind the people that in many ways can be the problem.

I remember talking with someone that I knew in a state legislature who said it best. He said “I may be the problem, but the bigger problem is the people you can’t see and can’t fire. They are the very system that is untouchable.” I think this state legislator was right!

It’s the system that can be the problem. When you have a centralized concentration of power, it does not matter who you put in the role. The very system can be corrupted. This is why I believe it’s fitting to decentralize power.

How do we decentralize power? I think there’s many different ways to do this, but for the sake of not writing a book, let me focus on the obvious. We must work to limit the control of elected bureaucrats. This is something that must happen in my opinion.

Think about COVID. We must have more layers of transparent checkpoints, where unelected individuals cannot seize concentrated power, which can cause them to be untouchable. I think another example would be cronyism. What I mean by this is the concentrated collaboration between corporations and the state. Whether you call it corporate welfare or cronyism, it is the same thing. Corporations have immense power by being able to control government. We must find ways to breakdown the very systems and decentralize them.

This is why over the last 12 months, I have been working with a group of like-minded people to form a decentralized coalition. The goal of this coalition to fight against a very centralized power that I’m talking about. It’s my opinion that we must push back on the centralized systems. We must begin to find ways to decentralize the power structures for the hope of all of our futures.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Adam Fischer

Adam Fischer is the Founder of Explore Financial Freedom, which is a financial education company. Adam also serves on his local County Board. He has a passion for free market economics and libertarian political advocacy.

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