Government: Minnesota Model

On a clear day, viewers atop New York's Empire State Building can see an area that is governed by 1,400 political units—states, cities, counties and townships, plus scores of special-purpose districts that control everything from airports to garbage. The U.S. has 80,000 such "governments," many of them created to focus efficiently on narrow problems. In pursuing their own interests, these bodies often worsen environmental problems, such as smog and dirty rivers, that cut across political boundaries, Responsibility is fragmented in a maze of separate, unequal and overlapping jurisdictions.

Many political scientists...

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