Local Government and Governance

Randy Simmons,

Release Date
February 17, 2011


Role of Government

From the IHS Vault: Political science professor Randy Simmons gives a personal perspective on the topic of local government, sharing his past experiences both as a city councilman and as mayor in a small town.
Contrary to what some people may think, Simmons explains how local governments can be every bit as abusive of their power as state and federal governments. Using insights from political economy and public choice theory, he explains how people serving in local governments are incentivized to act. Even when they have the best of intentions, people in local government still face knowledge problems, and their actions often have unintended consequences.
But if local government can bring out the worst in people, it doesn’t mean that amazing things don’t happen at the local level. Prof. Simmons also shares inspiring stories of people helping their neighbors and improving their community, without needing the government to act.
This lecture was filmed at the IHS summer seminar, “Liberty and Society” at Wake Forest University in 2010.