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Local Governments with Good Boundaries Build Freedom

We live better when we’re freer to spend more of our own money ourselves. We become freer when people in government defend their boundaries against other government people, limiting our governments. Local governments can hear us uniquely well and can powerfully defend their boundaries, and ours.

James Anthony
January 29, 2021

Lately, SARS-CoV-2 premised tyranny, 2020 election tyranny, and extreme government spending have brought to the forefront our need to understand how to limit governments, increasing freedom.

Freedom is maximized by chartering republican governments, getting offsetting powers used fully, and paring down governments’ powers to the minimum, so customers control the maximum fraction of spending.

Chartering Republican Governments

Republican government has at least three attributes: ultimate control by the citizenry, no monarchy, and adherence to law [1], [2]. Each attribute is present in any government that’s limited.

A government that’s limited needs a limiting charter. Chartering a republican government using the Constitution’s best practices requires enumerated powers [3]; separated legislative [4], executive [5], and judicial [6] powers; and nondelegable legislative powers [7].

Enumerated powers, though, are not provided in the charters of political parties or in state constitutions [8].

Separated legislative, executive, and judicial powers are not provided in the charters of parties [9], and are not necessarily provided in the charters of county governments, city governments, government school districts, and homeowners associations, or in the charters of the many businesses, schools, and nonprofits that extend government powers [10].

Chartering republican governments offers considerable potential for improvement. Enumerating powers, in particular, is a potent way to disallow government monopolies, allowing customer-controlled producers to add much-more value.

Local governments are a great place to start. Rural counties have smaller populations. Neighborhoods in large inner-core cities can form neighborhood cities that have smaller populations [11]. When populations are small and the people have similar interests, changes can be especially fast and extensive [12].

Getting Offsetting Powers Used

A second path for change is already widely in place in existing charters.

Rights clauses are rules. Offsetting-powers clauses provide corresponding sanctions. Officers can protect rights by applying sanctions immediately.

The Constitution is supreme, and by itself is enough to enable rights to be protected immediately. The Constitution’s bedrock rule is that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law [13]. The Constitution’s sanctions include the strong mandates that government officers—national and state; legislative, executive, and judicial—must support [14] or protect [15] the Constitution. This requires that each officer independently evaluate each action [16] and only take actions that he himself believes are constitutional.

Lately, SARS-CoV-2 has been the premise for widespread, damaging [17] exercises of absolute power [18], bypassing republican government’s nondelegation of legislative powers. County and city officials are beginning to oppose this tyranny using the power of their oaths or affirmations of office. All government officials have this power, but—naturally—change for the better is coming first in local governments, especially local governments that are pressed hard by citizens [19].

The SARS-CoV-2 premised tyranny has illuminated that change for the better is blocked most strongly by two kinds of organizations: parties, and businesses, schools, and nonprofits that extend government powers or that extend tyranny of their own.

Parties exercise the strongest government power: parties control governments.

As noted earlier, our parties’ charters don’t limit the parties with enumerated powers or with separated powers. Majorities of both major parties’ elected representatives go on from there to violate the chartered boundaries that are designed to limit our governments.

To have good boundaries requires respecting others’ boundaries and also defending one’s own boundaries.

Merely respecting others’ boundaries is not decisive. If most actors respect others’ boundaries but even a few actors violate others’ boundaries, no one’s rights are secure. The key to having good boundaries, then, is to defend one’s own boundaries against others’ violations.

In governments, the way to defend one’s own boundaries is to use offsetting constitutional powers. These powers can and should be used against others who violate one’s own boundaries, and also against others who violate anyone else’s boundaries.

But the nominal leadership and the elected representatives of both major parties are dominated by Progressives. What defines Progressives is that Progressives don’t use constitutional powers against others in government [9]. Progressives collude to violate the Constitution and to violate every other charter that limits any other government.

Once this fundamental sin is understood, it can be actively opposed, removed, and limited on an ongoing basis going forward.

In primaries and in general elections, voters can select the currently-few incumbent candidates who use their constitutional powers against others in government, or the challengers whose life histories and explanations to voters indicate that they are likely to. use their constitutional powers against others in government

Between elections, voters can evaluate elected representatives solely according to their use of constitutional powers against others in government. Voters can support those who use their powers, and pressure those who don’t [20].

When the governments involved are local and small, it’s easier to vote them out, pressure them, and make this change, as well, fast and extensive.

The extensive change that’s ultimately needed is to build a good party [9] in which the party organization is of republican form.

Many businesses, schools, and nonprofits, acting either as extensions of governments or on their own, also act crucially to deprive persons of liberty or property; and these organizations face no consequences. SARS-CoV-2-premised tyranny has made such actions more extensive and more visible.

These deprivations can’t be avoided by customers if a seller’s product is different enough from other competing products to be decisively preferred by customers. Also, these deprivations can’t be avoided if all readily-available sellers impose practically the same rules [21]. If, in either case, any of these organizations’ rules also deprive persons of liberty or property, that is illegal.

Once this fundamental sin is understood too, it can be removed too, although this requires the application of more organized power.

These organizations often act in response to unconstitutional orders from national or state governments, misinformation from other organizations, or other pressures. These organizations’ officers will not change their actions unless they are subject to overpowering force. Customers pressuring these organizations are unlikely to wield such impactful force.

Local governments, though, have the legal authority through the Constitution to subject these organizations to penalties and accompanying public pressure that are sufficient to overpower the hard control talk (“recommendations”) that national and state governments rely on to pressure these organizations, and to also overpower these organizations’ own Progressive officers.

It is critical to limit infringements of customers’ rights. Once this is accomplished, then businesses, schools, and nonprofits will have no alternative but to compete freely to provide products under the supervisory control of customers.

Wherever customers have supervisory control, customers add maximum value by using all the information they have at hand to shop to best satisfy their desires, and producers add maximum value by striving to please customers.

Paring Down Governments’ Scopes to the Minimum

Freedom is largest when republican governments supply only what producers can’t quickly supply yet, and customers choose products from freely-competing producers.

Voters can only try to choose representatives. Representatives, though support mixtures of policies. Representatives’ contributions are diluted by the others’ contributions in the large law-enacting group of legislators and executives. And representatives’ law enacting or law enforcement can only prevent losses in value, but can never add value.

Customers, in contrast, can choose exactly what product delivers the most value for them in whatever way they will use it. And customers get to make such choices about every product they use.

Customers, by shopping, are themselves immediately adding value that they will see for as long as they use these products.

Customers also are collectively adding value that we all benefit from constantly [22]. Their shopping decides which producers are adding more value and will get to control more resources, and which producers are adding less value and will have to get by with controlling fewer resources or will have to dissolve and move on to other work where their people will add more value.

For people to gain the most benefits from this system of voluntary cooperation and competition, governments must be limited to do only the tasks that people can get done only if these tasks are controlled by governments.

The limited scopes that, for now, should reside in national governments and state governments are already very small, as listed in the figure.

Free individuals in voluntary cooperation

Figure: James Anthony [23]

For now, the appropriate scope for the national government is peace and war, and free commerce. The appropriate scope for state governments is policing. As of now, the appropriate scope for free action already includes help by family members, medicine, charity, toll roads, education, and almost everything else.

We the people need the national government to be a boundary against tyrannies of other nations’ governments, and against unconstitutional actions of state governments, local governments, and other organizations.

We need state governments to be boundaries against unconstitutional actions of the national government, other state governments, local governments, and other organizations.

We need local governments to be frontline boundaries against unconstitutional actions of the national government, state governments, other local governments, and other organizations.

Government people must defend their own boundaries, and ours.

A government’s got to know its limitations [24].


  1. Natelson, Robert G. “A Republic, Not a Democracy? Initiative, Referendum, and the Constitution’s Guarantee Clause.” Texas Law Review, vol. 80, 2002, pp. 807-57.
  2. Smith, Thomas A. “The Rule of Law and the States: A New Interpretation of the Guarantee Clause.” The Yale Law Journal, vol. 93, 1984, pp. 561-80.
  3. USA Constitution, amend. 10.
  4. USA Constitution, art. I, sec. 1.
  5. USA Constitution, art. II, sec. 1, cl. 1.
  6. USA Constitution, art. III, sec. 1.
  7. Schoenbrod, David. “The Delegation Doctrine: Could the Court Give It Substance?” Michigan Law Review, vol. 83, no. 5, Apr. 1985, pp. 1223-90.
  8. Maddex, Robert L. State Constitutions of the United States. Congressional Quarterly, 1998, p. xvi.
  9. Anthony, James. The Constitution Needs a Good Party: Good Government Comes from Good Boundaries. Neuwoehner Press, 2018.
  10. Rectenwald, Michael. “The Google Election.” Mises Wire, 13 Nov. 2020, mises.org/wire/google-election. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.
  11. Anthony, James. “Neighborhood Cities Increase Freedom.” rConstitution.us, 26 Dec. 2020, rconstitution.us/neighborhood-cities-increase-freedom/. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.
  12. Havrylyshyn, Oleh, et al. “25 Years of Reforms in Ex-Communist Countries: Fast and Extensive Reforms Led to Higher Growth and More Political Freedom.” Policy Analysis, no. 795, 2016.
  13. USA Constitution, amend. 5.
  14. USA Constitution, art. VI, cl. 3.
  15. USA Constitution, art. II, sec. 1, cl. 8.
  16. Lawson, Gary. “Everything I Need to Know About Presidents I Learned from Dr. Seuss.” Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 24, no. 2, Spring 2001, pp. 381-92.
  17. “Cost of Lockdowns: A Preliminary Report.” AIER Daily Economy, 18 Nov. 2020, www.aier.org/article/cost-of-us-lockdowns-a-preliminary-report/. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.
  18. Anthony, James. “On the Reading of Old Constitutions.” rConstitution.us, 9 Oct. 2020, rconstitution.us/on-the-reading-of-old-constitutions/. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.
  19. Horowitz, Daniel. “Ep 782 | How to Defeat COVID Marxism with Local Organization.” Conservative Review with Daniel Horowitz, 21 Dec. 2020, podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ep-782-how-to-defeat-covid-marxism-with-local-organization/id1065050908?i=1000503121059. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.
  20. Anthony, James. “Voting Guide for Constitutionalists.” rConstitution.us, 30 Oct. 2020, rconstitution.us/voting-guide-for-constitutionalists/. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.
  21. Boyack, Andrea, “Common Interest Community Covenants and the Freedom of Contract Myth.” Journal of Law and Public Policy, vol. 22, no. 2, 2014, pp. 767-844.
  22. von Mises, Ludwig. Bureaucracy. Yale University Press, 1941, pp. 20-1.
  23. Anthony, James. rConstitution Papers: Offsetting Powers Secure Our Rights. Neuwoehner Press, 2020, p. 12.6. 
  24. Eastwood, Clint, actor. Magnum Force. The Malpaso Company, 1973.

James Anthony is the author of The Constitution Needs a Good Party and rConstitution Papers, and has written in The Federalist, American Thinker, Foundation for Economic Education, and rConstitution.us. He is an experienced chemical engineer with a master’s in mechanical engineering and a strong background in process design and control.


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