Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Surfeit of Jurisdictions by Louis Evan Palmer


When do the layers of organizations become dysfunctional? Is it partly a result of perceptions? Is there an optimal number and mix of jurisdictions?

Discussions of jurisdictions quickly become esoteric. Theories across many disciplines emerge - economic, psychologic, management. Implicit are philosophies and cultures and beliefs.

We have political governance - for many, this occurs at the city or town level, then at a county or regional level, then at a state or province level, then at a national level then at an international or supranational level.

We have various specialized oversight - for medicine, for standards, for food and health, for public hygiene. We have a body that jointly manages an international waterway, the St. Laurence seaway. Bodies that operate and manage airports or ports or bridges.

We have religious and spiritual organizations which themselves operate at different levels - within their denomination, across denominations within the same faith, acoss other faiths, within countries, within political systems.

We have bodies for every kind of sport and cultural activity. We have specific bodies for special events like the Olympics or the the World Cup.

Some of the jurisdictions apply to everyone, while others only to members. Some people are very conscious of these numerous jurisdictions while others are almost completely unaware.

Of course, this does not touch on secret organizations and jurisdictions. They affect their members but they can also affect non-members.

Because we prize organizations and the power they can bestow, we have a built-in drive towards every possible type of organization which will then lay claim to jurisdiction in various areas.

It can be in fashion, in art, in music; or more specifically, in women's fashion, in abstract art, in jazz music.

The voluntary self-organizing organizations are the natural outcome of a democratic society and their jurisdictions can be fleeting and dynamic.

Military jurisdictions loom over and behind all. And, intelligence agencies and special bureaus.

Having a great number of jurisdictions and organizations fighting over them and creating new ones may not be the height of the civil society. Turning it over to private organizations is merely pretending that the need doesn't exist or that it can be better managed out-of-sight.

Where is the in-depth study of how a democracy is best organized? Not the very many pieceworks that we seem to fund and ignore all the time but serious fundamental ongoing research on how best to organize a society.

It's bad enough to have a glut of rules and rule-makers and rule-enforcers but it's worse to not know what we've got, what we need to operate optimally and, perhaps most urgently, why we need to expose and extirpate all hidden agents, levers and forces. No secret groups, courts, jails, laws, regulations, orders.

Adaptability is only useful if it prunes as well as grows. We can't keep adding and not removing. But we don't want hidden agendas being implemented in the guise of efficiencies. So we need maximum openess. Monolithicism is to be avoided but so too is undue multiplicity.

It's time to go back to the basics - definitions, purposes, plans.

Copyright Louis Evan Palmer
A Surfeit of Jurisdictions, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,


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