LOCAL GORT A T O PAK OL A CLAT CAG1 T POST CARBO RAR SRS
Government is an orphan—few people, it seems, sup- port it. Over the past few decades Americans havebecome increasingly cynical and jaded about their gov-ernment. They complain about taxes. They complainabout poor service and government waste. They wantgovernment off their backs and out of their lives.And yet, they still expect government to be there whenit’s a service they want or need. Many responses to peakoil urge individual and community solutions, ignor-ing government. They argue that since governmenthasn’t done anything to address the problem, citizensand businesses must take matters into their own hands.Some even argue that government is part of the prob-lem, particularly federal and state governments.This attitude is shortsighted. While it may be truethat government has been slow to respond to peak oiland climate change, it nevertheless has a vital role to play. There are many things a government can do thatan individual or community cannot do. As AbrahamLincoln said:e legitimate object of government is to do fora community of people whatever they need tohave done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so welldo, for themselves, in their separate and individ-ual capacities.
There will always be a need for the things governmentdoes. Rather than walk away from government, weshould work toward ensuring that it serves our needs.
The Role of Government
In U.S. democracy, authority is divided among severallevels of government. The three main levels are the fed-eral government, fifty state governments, and tens of thousands of local (primarily municipal and county)governments. In addition, there are special districts—such as school districts, housing authorities, portauthorities, transit districts, and water and irrigationdistricts—many of which have elected governing struc-tures and the authority to raise revenues.There are things that can and should be done toaddress peak oil and climate change at all these levelsof government. Moreover, there are things one level of government may be able to do that the other levels can’tdo. The transportation system is a great example of aservice that is, by necessity, implemented at differentlevels. From pedestrian crosswalks to international air- ports, local, state, and federal agencies are all involvedin some aspect of transportation planning, design,funding, construction, and maintenance.There are also many things that can be done at the com-munity level by local grassroots organizations, includ-ing religious organizations, charitable organizations,
There are things that can andshould be done to addresspeak oil and climate change atall levels of government.