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December 20, 2011

Problem? Here’s the solution(s)….

Farrell Keough

As noted in the many writings of Thomas Jefferson, these United States are composed of “little republics” – those communities which create the backbone and strength of the nation as a whole.


As our nation has grown, so, in turn, have our communities. We now have virtual contact world-wide and in real time, but the concept of “little republics” remains. It is at the community level that necessary infrastructure (power-plants, transportation access, industries, business sectors) exists which become the forces driving this nation to be the leading influence throughout the world. The government does not create businesses, nor does it build the infrastructure which allow our needs to exist from coast to coast.* It is at the community level that these necessary advances occur.


Localities which participate in this “Grand Experiment” are considered “resilient communities, “which is one which embraces conscientious development, necessary infrastructure, and programs and policies which promote economic security. These strategies and foundational attributes promote both current and future dynamism. It is this concept which formed the amazing notion of an integrated nation described by Thomas Jefferson as “little republics.”


As noted by Mr. Jefferson, each ward or township should be like “a small republic within itself, and every man in the state would thus become an acting member of the common government... The wit of man cannot devise a more solid basis for a free, durable and well-administered republic.”** But the concept is larger. With each resilient community working toward those opportunities which benefit their unique characteristics, whether by intention or serendipity, they inevitably profit the entire nation.***


For instance, it makes no sense to have a large power plant in each individual locality as a small provider is generally not a wise business endeavor due to low return on investment. To facilitate this, we now have various areas developing necessary infrastructures which assist not only their own citizenry, but the larger region and thereby the nation as a whole. While these decisions have a local benefit, they also benefit the nation as a whole, providing not only necessary food, but more importantly, choice of product.


A resilient community recognizes and accepts these concepts to ensure not only their own livelihood, but that of the larger region and nation. For instance, needed transmission lines, (including petroleum piping, natural gas, and electricity) may not yield a direct benefit to a community in terms of local jobs or even additional local energy. But, the gain in tax revenue is well established.


Equally important is recognizing the national need coupled with the low risk of real danger positions not only the local citizenry, but the larger nation to be prepared when our economic situation turns around – we will either be ready to grow our economy or we will be relegated to rationing.


Understanding the facts of such ventures, logically deciding upon the course of action, and accepting the overall benefit, is a hallmark of a resilient community. Many in our nation have taken the stance that we need these various infrastructures to remain a vibrant nation, but the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) perspective has become all too common. A truly resilient community weighs the facts of risk, (often being de minimis) against those emotional arguments that generally have little basis in reality.


Building resilient communities will assuage the ability for larger or more prominent bodies of government or accords to subsume them. As has been the case throughout our nation’s history, the force of “might is right” has often won the day. By creating communities that embrace sustainable and maintainable progress, the ability to remain autonomous and course their future is greatly enhanced and established.


So, what constitutes a resilient community? One of the most important aspects is the common desire to ensure the community is dynamic enough to sustain future generations. This includes recognizing when government has overstepped its boundaries and rectifying these unnecessary rules/regulations. But, more importantly, it involves the citizenry recognition that business growth can benefit all – both locally and for the wider region.


Government is a necessary evil because people can necessarily be evil; but never forget that government is composed of people. It is in the nature of government to grow and acquire more power and authority. Impeding that process is what a resilient community will pursue. As government cannot make jobs (other than those in government), it can only hamper the pursuit thereof. Regulating to ensure health, safety, and equality is a legitimate function of government. Unfortunately, our government has gone leaps and bounds beyond that to choose winners and losers and this harms the greater public and future by obstructing the simple elegance of competition and the private markets.


Resilient communities ensure that future generations have the same opportunities for dynamic growth that allowed our communities to become the “little republics” that grew this nation.


The aspiration for a community that has the dynamism to continue with fresh growth and perspectives for each succeeding generation has become a requirement, not simply a wish. Those communities where this vitality fails to exist become sclerotic and unable to promote multi-generational progression. Resilient communities promote both educational excellence and generational options.


Retaining an integrated relationship among the various communities, businesses, and leadership roles through this area – community-to-community, state-to-state, and throughout this region – is necessary to find feasible solutions for our future welfare and our community resiliency. Working toward viable, workable, wise, and beneficial solutions is necessary to move into a 21st Century that will profit all. Erecting roadblocks harms the overall communities and regions – participation by all concerned citizens to find solutions is of vital importance.



Farrell Keough, Chairman Engaged Citizen


* Interstate commerce laws have necessitated government interaction amongst States to allow energy transmission – but it is through private companies that this necessary energy is dispersed.


** Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824. ME 16:46.


*** Jefferson to John Tyler, 1810. ME 12:394.

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