As the federal government shutdown enters its fourth week, the Key Institutions of Community and Business are stepping up to provide services usually offered by “non-essential” federal employees. Our parent organization, Americans For Prosperity Foundation, emphasizes four key institutions in society – Community, Business, Education, and Government– and teaches that when these institutions are all functioning properly, people’s ability to live a successful, fulfilling life becomes far greater.
These key institutions in society frequently interact and overlap in our daily lives. For instance, we may send our children to public schools (Government & Education institutions), while also sending them to an after-school tutoring program like Sylvan Learning Center (Business & Education). Our professional employment may require a state license or certification (Government), but we may also belong to a private, professional association (Business & Community).
Sometimes these institutions operate outside of their beneficial role, or they fail in their responsibilities entirely. When that happens, the other institutions step up to fill in the gaps.
One such gap is the suspension of the National Park Service during federal government shutdowns. The closure of national parks during these shutdowns is one of the most public examples of the Key Institution of Government failing during these budget crises.
Rather than allowing parks to remain closed or trash to pile up, community organizations and businesses have assumed many of the responsibilities needed to manage the parks.
Over the weekend of January 5, community groups organized to pick up trash in places like the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
According to a Facebook event, more than 50 libertarian activists descended on the National Mall to pick up trash, bringing trash bags and other supplies. They broke up into small groups and spread across the Mall, one of the most visited and recognizable national park locations in the country.
Elsewhere, a national network of Muslim youth organized and picked up garbage at several national park locations, including Everglades National Park in Florida and Independence Mall in Philadelphia.
At Yellowstone National Park – the nation’s oldest park – businesses that profit from private, guided snowmobile tours in the winter saw the prospect of losing thousands of dollars in seasonal business. As a result, they organized to collect trash and clean bathrooms for their customers.
Community organizations and businesses frequently step up when government fails to execute its responsibilities. This might prompt one to ask, “What if government didn’t do it at all?”
Certainly, government has expanded its responsibilities in recent decades, often operating outside of its beneficial role by encroaching into the legitimate responsibilities of the other Key Institutions. And like any muscle that weakens when it goes unused, the institutions of Community, Business, and Education forget how to exercise their authority over these responsibilities.
Let me challenge you to spend a few minutes considering the following: What responsibilities does Government assume that the key institutions of Community, Business, or Education could address better or more efficiently? Is there an organization or business in your community that rose up to address a problem government has failed to address? And lastly, what can you do in your community to advance a free society?
Th Grassroots Leadership Academy challenges you to rise to the occasion and become a leader in your community. Who knows, you may even inspire others to do the same.
To read more about Key Institutions and how they interact, click here.