Thursday, November 14, 2013

89,000 governments: What is a government

In the United States, there is no one, universally accepted definition of what is a government. You would think that there would be. There isn't.

If a government is considered a sovereign or subsidiary agent of a sovereign state organized separately from other governments, the numbers of governments out there can get quite large and even include organizations that are sometimes private and sometimes, when they are acting for other governments, put on the mantle of a government temporarily. I first ran across this on a random google search where it was pointed out that in some jurisdictions humane societies sometimes receive sovereign immunity from prosecution for their acts. The law isn't entirely settled. So do humane societies get included in the citizen intelligence database? They will be. I'm less sure whether to include them in my government directory books. If they do go in, such organizations will go under their own heading.

In the state of Indiana, governments are prohibited by the state constitution from taking on an excessive amount of debt defined as 2% of the property value of the property within its jurisdiction. For library construction, this is a hard limit to live under. While ordinary operations allow library districts to stay well below this level of debt, it would take a great deal of time to accumulate the money necessary to build a modern library without running over the 2% debt limit.

To build out a proper toolkit to manage all of these organizations requires adopting the broadest, not the narrowest definitions of government that apply. Citizen Intelligence as a project will be researching and using the definition in each state and monitor governments that qualify either under a state definition or under the federal definition used by the Census Bureau or both.

State Definitions

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming