History has a sine-like wave between the extremes of capital intensiveness and commodification. One of the best examples of this is warfare which was capital intensive with the Knights in shining armour before quickly becoming commoditised by gunpowder - which any riff raff could load and aim. The nation-state as an organisational technology proved well suited to the capital and state intensive period of the late 19th and early 20thC. However, now we are in a commoditisation swing and need to re-seek out decentralisation structures.
A great organisational technology is federalism. It strikes an excellent political balance between centralisation and decentralisation. Another benefit is that it places the central authority in permanent tension with the out-lying arms, and hopefully, through a well written constitution, that tension is maintained such that neither centralisation or decentralisation dominate absolutely.
Sadly that didn't happen in Australia and between Canberra, the federal political parties and the High Court - nationalism is now dominating the states such that decentralised autonomy is in sad shape. Other than the benefits of federalism offering an internal free-trade system, which was important to NSW who had tariffs leveraged against them by the protectionist states such as Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland (also Tasmania - in fact NSW was the only free trade state), the national dominance did not bring the capital intensive benefits either.
During the late 19thC and mid 20thC warfare and the state got capital heavy. Blue water projection was first dominated by the Dreadnoughts and then super-carriers. All massive capital works to create and maintain. Only nation-states with their large wealthy populations and efficient (by history standards) tax collecting bureaucracies can afford that kind of thing.
Then we got the welfare state after the depression where governments decided that capital intensive methodology to provide public services. But in Australia most of this was done by the states. For instance education, health etc are the domain of the states. So basically the federal government in Australia centralised the power over policy and money collection but not the actual services.
This is exactly how John Gorton and Gough Whitlam visualised the federalist structure with the policy and receipts dominated by the feds and the administration and disbursement of receipts dominated by the states.
Unfortunately we are in a commoditisation cycle. Mainly because Deming's statistical process control [SPC] made the geographical location of a factory irrelevant, allowing companies to take advantage of decreasing wages without a loss of product quality, and the productivity gains from digitisation. Communications, production, bureaucracy, etc, etc have all been transformed by the microchip.
I was recently at the
looking at the
from a raised platform when I said to myself, "It is so analog!". This is the aircraft which dropped the atomic bomb, yet its cockpit was populated by dial after dial. Not a HUD, CRT or LCD in sight (my car has a HUD). I would not have considered an analog engineering solution like that unusual fifteen years ago - today - I am shocked that people existed with backward technology like that!
I was interested to read
Q: You say that when our founding fathers sculpted our [USA] Constitution, they put the government in the "sweet spot," between centralized and decentralized. Are we still there?
RB: We've [USA] drifted strongly back toward centralization over time as a country, and of course we wobble back and forth a little bit. One of the biggest examples was after 9/11, when we took all the different police forces and intelligence forces and put them all under Homeland Security. That was a major centralization move, and typical: When a fairly centralized player gets attacked by a decentralized force, like al-Qaeda, the first reaction is to centralize further, and that's usually a strategic mistake.
When asked with what the prescription to the increasing centralisation is, Beckstrom replies:
Q: So how do we get back into the sweet spot?
RB: One way is to push responsibility back to the state governments. In some areas you can decentralize by outsourcing services further. One of the ultimate moves in terms of combating terrorism is to have the government use more Special Operations forces, which tend to be more decentralized, working in small teams that in general are given a high level of autonomy. . . . I gave a presentation at Stanford in 2004 to 50 CEOs from around the world. One CEO took it back to a head of state in a Middle Eastern country to the top levels of government. Based on it they decided to start their own local special operations in a selected city, and found it to be much more effective than their traditional, centralized counter-terrorism operation - at a very small fraction of the cost.
The people living in any community have the best sense of what is really going on in that community. They have local intelligence. The best information is at the edge of a network . . . where people are bringing what they want into the network and taking out what they want, without any centralized control.
It is interesting to see Beckstrom mentioning out-sourcing as a decentralised response though he later adds a caveat that checks and balances and monitoring are essential for that kind of decentralisation.
Our current period of commodification has meant that formerly capital intensive weapon systems are now within the reach of wealthy individuals and groups. For instance a satellite goes for under $20 million these days. Cheap enough for many people and organisations on the planet to afford.
A recent development has been super-yachts that have anti-submarine defence systems and air-to-air armaments. Yet recently a pirate ship fired on a Luxury Liner with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) which caused consternation with media attention. Another commodity weapon system is the UAV. Rather than $100 million USD on a JSF, an Australian groups of aerospace engineers flew a cheap home-made UAV across the Atlantic, through rain squalls, and landed it on its target for less than a few kilograms in fuel. This is a very cheap, efficient and accurate warhead delivery system.
The final problem with centralisation and capital intensive endeavour is the structures that are required to support them. These becomes points of weakness or failure which can be attacked.
John Robb calls this system disruption
. A good example of a capital intensive system, operating under political regulation, that is vulnerable in this way
is energy delivery
Australia has under-gone a century of transformation such that modern federalism is not much like the federalism of Samuel Griffiths. There is an argument that the Griffith view of federalism was too restrictive on national autonomy, but over the last century the centralisation has been too great - such that it is a structural weakness in the modern commoditised environment. The states need to decentralise federalism by asserting their own autonomy and diversity.
Canberra likes to talk about the 'national interest'. We are at the point in the commodification cycle that the national interest includes a devolution to state autonomy for the purpose of political strength.
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.