The greater good

The Covington News - - OPINION -

Dear ed­i­tor,

A num­ber of years ago, in a land not so far away, a group of po­lit­i­cal and civic lead­ers met to es­tab­lish or­der in the midst of great po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic tur­moil. The land they lived and worked on had ex­pe­ri­enced un­prece­dented change and though there was gen­eral agree­ment that this change was good, it had lit­tle fo­cus and di­rec­tion. They brought their best ideas and a few “ex­perts” to create rules and pro­ce­dures they des­per­ately needed but few were aware of how great was this need.

In the midst of their de­lib­er­a­tions, there was a shadow that cast its lengthy pres­ence over the as­sem­bled group. The shadow soon be­came a thing of sub­stance that feared a strong govern­ment. They wanted rules that pro­moted the com­mon good but did not con­strict in­di­vid­ual rights.

These rule-mak­ers had mem­bers from the tea party, the more lib­eral left and quite a few peo­ple that con­sid­ered them­selves cen­trists, or mod­er­ates. Very few, if any, wanted a strong govern­ment that did not have the right to tax, make rules re­gard­ing re­la­tions among the mem­bers and the groups they rep­re­sented. The mem­bers from ru­ral ar­eas dis­trusted those from more pop­u­lated ar­eas and the pop­u­lated ar­eas did not un­der­stand what the fuss was about.

Their de­lib­er­a­tions pro­duced a prod­uct that had not much sub­stance and left each small group the power and au­thor­ity to make of­ten con­flict­ing and con­fus­ing rules and pro­nun­ci­a­tions. It was al­most as if these rule-mak­ers wanted their gov­ern­ing body to have no more than su­per­vi­sory au­thor­ity. It did not take but a few years for the lack of struc­ture to cause some of the same mem­bers of the same group to meet yet again.

The next time these folks met, they rep­re­sented the same groups: the tea party, lib­er­als and cen­trists, but they had al­ready had their say in the pre­vi­ous meet­ings and as they came to­gether, they stressed that this time, they were cre­at­ing a body of rules that ad­dressed what some saw as power, or a lack thereof, and came up with ways to check any po­ten­tial abuse. Sev­eral com­plained that they were tired of govern­ment telling them what to do.

These men had strong per­sonal and eco­nomic in­ter­ests that had pre­vi­ously ham­pered their abil­ity to create some­thing for the greater good. They fi­nally put aside per­sonal in­ter­ests and rec­og­nized the prin­ci­ple that fi­nally swayed them. They wanted an in­stru­ment of govern­ment un­der which they would ben­e­fit most. They un­der­stood that in or­der to have eco­nomic and so­cial ad­vance­ment, they had to pro­vide guid­ance from be­low.

To gov­ern from be­low means that the peo­ple must use those who have greater ex­per­tise, de­bate it and shape it to de­velop a set of rules that truly pro­mote the greater good. This is called rep­re­sen­ta­tive govern­ment and the peo­ple de­cide who will rep­re­sent them.

The 2050 Plan meet­ings have been less ran­corous than those who met in 1787 to adopt the Ar­ti­cles of Con­fed­er­a­tion that would bind the thirteen colonies into a gov­ern­men­tal struc­ture to pro­tect them from an­other King Ge­orge III. Ben­jamin Franklin wrote the first draft and Thomas Jef­fer­son pro­moted it. It was fi­nally passed and was, ul­ti­mately, a dis­mal fail­ure.

The Ar­ti­cles pro­vided a weak gov­ern­ing struc­ture that could not make rules that pro­moted the com­mon good. John Han­son, not Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton, be­came the first Pres­i­dent of this new Con­fed­er­a­tion but his only power was as a mem­ber of the Congress that had elected him Pres­i­dent. When a group of Mas­sachusetts farm­ers (Shay’s Re­bel­lion) rose up to protest eco­nomic con­di­tions and the lack of a cen­tral cur­rency, the death knell soon struck the un­or­ga­nized, un­struc­tured govern­ment.

In 1787, the same peo­ple who put to­gether the Ar­ti­cles of Con­fed­er­a­tion came to­gether and they still rep­re­sented the same groups: the tea party, lib­er­als and cen­trists. But this time they re­al­ized they needed a body of rules that ad­dressed what some saw as power, or a lack thereof, and came up with ways to check any po­ten­tial abuse. The Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States was the re­sult of this ef­fort and it stands today as the great­est doc­u­ment con­ceived by the minds of men.

The 2050 Plan is an at­tempt to cor­rect the lack of struc­ture and speci­ficity that has plagued the zon­ing and land use rules that brought us into the 20th Cen­tury and stopped there. The Con­sti­tu­tion has been amended many times and zon­ing and land use rules must con­tinue to be up­dated. This plan is an at­tempt to do this and it is de­signed to pro­mote the greater good. Be re­minded that this is a first draft. It is now time for the cit­i­zens of New­ton County to put aside their per­sonal and eco­nomic in­ter­ests that may clash with the greater good and rec­og­nize the need to be a rea­son­able part of rule­mak­ing that em­anates from the peo­ple.

It is not in the best in­ter­ests of this grow­ing county that we ig­nore growth and hope we shall con­tinue to be like May­berry. We have not been like May­berry for a long time, and as much as I like to dream about coun­try roads and very lit­tle traf­fic, that is no more, and stick­ing our heads in the red clay will doom us to the very things we are now so op­posed to.

J. Vir­gil Cost­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.