Things were bad enough when all decisions began to bunch up at the state capital. Now they cluster at the tip-top -- the U.S. Department of Education, may it vanish in the night like a carpet stain soaked in detergent. The Obama administration is currently in the process of trying to set national standards for school performance. It already controls the way federal money is spent at the local level -- overmatched experts from colleges of education.
In a much-touted new book ("Life Without Lawyers: Liberating America from Too Much Law"), Philip K. Howard sets forth five goals of extraordinary relevance to our present discontents, each goal centered on the need to increase personal accountability and responsibility. Howard wants, among other things, to "Push responsibility down to local organizations -- give back to Americans the freedom to make a difference -- without unnecessary interference of centralized bureaucracy, especially in schools and other social services."
In other words, he hopes we might become again what we once were: a people dedicated to the proposition that those nearest a problem know the most about it. Shouldn't they?
Let's not celebrate just yet. Remember the time and space needful for nations to turn upon their axes: great battleships in a bathtub. Still, what could be nearer our present purposes than some counsel we once heard from within the Obama administration? Never, so the counsel went, let a crisis go to waste -- this crisis, flowing from forgetfulness as to what happens when government promises the moon ... and falls flat on delivering the atmospheric gases.