The Mike Church Show World HQ
The Mike Church Show World HQ

Hume: How Scale Applies to New York

Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – In his essay “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth”, David Hume had a lot to say about the scale of government. According to his math, no one should represent a district larger than 1000 people. Which would mean that one of Mike’s listener’s, a county legislator in Orange County, NY which has a population of 300,000 and he represents 17,000 of those people, is doing the job of 17 people according to Hume. It would also make one modern county one of the largest republics of the ancient world.  Check out today’s transcript for more…


Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike:  This was sent to me by a listener, AG.  I was talking earlier about the [r]epublican or about how a group of republics get together and form a federation like ours.  A union, of sorts, does not a republic make, just like no more than a bunch of country clubs getting together to do a couple things in unison together makes that one group that does the unison stuff, it doesn’t make that a country club.  It’s not; it is a representative of country clubs.
I was asking the question about scale again.  A listener, Albert Buckby, writes, “You bring up a very good question.  How big is too big?  I am a county legislator in Orange County, New York.  Our population is around 300,000 people.”  By the way, Mr. Buckby, that would make you one of the largest republics of the ancient world, sir, if not the largest republic of the ancient world.  160,000, 200,000 citizens would make you one of the largest, so 300,000 would make you a big, bad republic.

“We have 21 county legislators.  I represent about 17,000 people.  Is our county small enough to give proper representation to our constituents or should we declare their independence?”  That’s an interesting question.  Can you being represented by one representative per 17,000, can that get the job done?  If you ask me, in a perfect world, I would say no.

I would also say that you should read David Hume’s brilliant essay from 1768 called “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth.”  Look at the math presented by Hume, as Hume divides 10,000 into 1,000, and then divides the 1,000 into 100.  You have as small a polity as 100 people.  The largest polity that is represented is 10,000, but there are ten districts inside the 10,000.

Of course, the purpose of this is that there aren’t going to be very many things, especially if those small polities are very unique in the way they organize and run their daily lives, or their concerns, or what they think is important to them, or what they think is important to conserve or get rid of.  You’re not going to get agreement to force feed those kinds of things on the entire population.

I think that’s the goal of good government, is to allow for very, very diverse, unique solutions to whatever the problem may be, as close to the source of the problem as you can get it.  Then only in very rare, very limited circumstances would you congregate together for the alleged or purported benefit of all, when there isn’t really an awful lot of things that materially can benefit all.

End Mike Church Show Transcript

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