Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues



For July 10: Federal vs. State vs. Local

There’s been a lot of discussion in Maine (and Blue Hill) about “local sovereignty.” The proponents have argued that local residents are better positioned than Washington (or Augusta) legislators and bureaucrats to form sensible judgments about, for example, the safety of locally produced food. (Keeping in mind that there are also Federal and Maine regulations governing the same.)

So, the question for next week’s discussion is: Which activities should be provided by (or regulated by):

  • The Federal government
  • The State governments
  • Local governments

Rather than enumerating the myriad services and activities to be regulated, of course, it may be more fruitful to think more abstractly about what common characteristics might cause a given activity to fall into one of the three (or four, if we want to consider County government as well) buckets.

Among the core issues to consider are:

  • Which entity(ies) should provide/regulate education?
  • Health care?
  • Social programs (for the needy, for the elderly)?
  • National defense?
  • Food safety?
  • Criminal law enforcement?

So, brush up on your Federalist Papers and be ready to go on Monday. If you need help getting started, here’s a link to Wikipedia on Federalism in the United States.

For Monday, July 3: More Local Economy

The library will be open, so we will indeed meet!

As agreed toward the end of last week’s meeting, we’ll continue our discussion about the local economy. If you weren’t there, take a look at some of the links posted by Mike Wolf a few days ago and come prepared to discuss what’s going well, what’s not going so well and how we might improve things without impairing the atmosphere/culture/environment that has attracted lots of folks to the Blue Hill Peninsula.

For Monday: What is the Purpose of High School?

We often revisit the link between education and economic prosperity in our Beyond Labels discussions. This coming week, we will be joined by Tim Seeley, the new Head of School at George Stevens Academy.

We’ll explore the competing demands on high school educators:

  • General Education (i.e., what should every student know before leaving high school, recognizing that the next step might be specialization in college or the workplace)
  • College Preparation (what do colleges expect freshmen to know before they matriculate)
  • Vocational Training (for both college-bound and non-college bound students)

All this against a backdrop of rapid social and physical development of each student.

As usual, I expect we’ll have a wide-ranging and fun conversation.

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