Representative Government and Environmental Management

By Edwin T. Haefele | Go to book overview

Foreword

This book is one Resources for the Future is particularly proud to present. It takes us into new dimensions of problems we have long been dealing with along other lines. Mr. Haefele is a thoroughly modern eighteenth-century man in that he brings to bear new techniques of political analysis with an undisguised preference for making the government of the American Republic as contemplated by the founding fathers really work for the benefit of the people. If the era of executive ascendancy is now drawing to a close, whether because of internal structural disabilities or because of misbehavior on the part of some leading players, then this is indeed a timely book.

Edwin T. Haefele begins by reminding us that the founders of the American Republic were in full possession of the political experience of seventeenth-century England. The government framed in Independence Hall rested firmly on the great truth forged in that earlier political struggle --that representative legislatures provide the surest way to order the deep divisions among men into viable social choices. The founders built well, and left behind them the tools to keep the structure in good repair.

Through the years, he argues, we have forgotten our political roots-- first in our nineteenth-century enthusiasm for popular democracy, then in our twentieth-century enchantment with business efficiency. The states, their powers crippled, no longer work as independent political units. Our political boundaries, valid a hundred years ago, make little sense today. In the cause of efficiency, more and more power has passed to executive officials and agencies. The legislatures themselves have ceased to be genu-

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