Wednesday, May 26, 2004
For those interested in subsidiarity, I have just posted in the sidebar an article I wrote at the outset of the Bush Administration titled Subsidiarity as a Principle of Governance: Beyond Devolution. The article arose out of my discomfort with the frequent and (in my view) one-dimensional invocation of subsidiarity by purveyors of "compassionate conservatism." I argued that subsidiarity's call for local bodies to take primary responsibilty for social problems presumes that such bodies will be equipped with the necessary resources, financial and otherwise, to carry out their responsibilities effectively, and that higher bodies, especially the federal government, will need to play a significant role not only in the process of empowerment, but will bear ongoing responsibility in those areas where the necessary empowerment is impractical. In several policy areas, I identified a disconnect between subsidiarity's premise and the Bush Administration's reflexively devolutionary stance toward government power. Certainly the landscape of government power, including the power sought and wielded by the Bush Administration, has changed remarkably since 9/11, but the basic thrust of the article remains valid, in my estimation.