They have to be able to interact with the people. I think that is fostered by access in the sense that we talked about already. It brings the scale of analysis down to a level that people are more likely to understand. People often feel very confident expressing opinions about their city, township, or county government because the dollar amounts and the number of people involved and the supposed benefits can actually be seen or are related to things that they can visualize. I think that gives you a greater sense of control. That will, over time, increase people's sense of trust.

GT: By bringing the scale down, do you think they would be more likely to participate not just in elections, but in civic life between elections?

Baker: Yes I do. It's hard to square in our society the history we have with low participation, especially in state and local elections, and the way we are emulated around the world in terms of our system of democracy. That's why if the stakes are increased, if people feel like state and localities matter, then that will increase the participation level.

Government stands on the threshold because technology is able to do many things that traditionally it couldn't do, even when it wanted to. Now they can.

It can also become more responsive. For example, you have a tax collecting system that is not effective and the people who are paying the taxes can rightfully complain that they are paying more because the system isn't working to catch the people who aren't paying taxes. If you can talk about how to get a more responsive and efficient government that will bring everybody to pay their fair share of taxes, then maybe everyone's share will go down a little bit, but everybody will be participating.

Moreover, in terms of the confidence question, people think that their government is trying to upgrade itself to try to be comparable to the private sector and to do things of a business-like quality that government traditionally hasn't done. That will be a confidence factor also.

*

none  |