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Richard Dey
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I'm sure the District would be piqued, but we states and commonwealths do have the right to relocate our national capital if and when we think it's becoming

too establishmentarian,
too inbred,
too expensive,
too dangerous and too much of a target,
too big and unwieldly,
too clogged with red tape,
too populated with lobbyists,
too disorganized to function ... et al.;

I'm sure you can think of other disadvantages offered by its present location as a terrorist bomb-testing range; for one thing, it's too hot and humid in the summer.

Are there any real reasons why the three branches have to meet in Washington anymore? Or is it really about the 4th branch of government: the bureaucracy? or the 5th branch of government: the special interests and lobbyists? or the 6th branch of government: that all-seeing eye or that invisible hand?

What would be wrong with having the President live in a rented ranch house in western Kansas somewhere, Congress meet in the nearest high-school after classes are out, and the supremes meet in the local court house -- down in the cellar where they won't interfere with the real business upstairs?

If we thought it ought to be moved, when, where, and why -- and who ought to be left behind as unnecessary?

Opine.

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RickyB
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Populist prattle [Big Grin]
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hobsen
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Well, it was selected to be in the middle of the United States. Move it to Kansas, and hope for a tornado.
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Richard Dey
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[Big Grin] [Big Grin]

Well, so far, we give the capital short shrift!

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Dave at Work
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I'm not arguing for or against the idea of moving the Capitol, but a few practicalities came to mind that I thought I would toss out before I return to lurking.

Assuming the Capitol were to be moved elsewhere which state would get or get saddled with Washington D.C., or would it become the 51's state?

What State would be willing to part with the land for the new Capitol?

If we go with finding a spot near the middle of the country, do we go for the geographical center of the entire United States, or just the "lower 48"?

Will the Federal Government compensate the state or states the land is taken from in the marketplace by buying the land like any normal organization, or will they apply emminent domain and just give them an arbitrary amount?

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Adam Masterman
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This is the most interesting political idea I've heard in years. Kudos for coming up with something new under the sun.

Off the cuff, I would say that security concerns would prevent the informal gatherings you envision. We sort of do need nuke proof bunkers handy for our leaders. But making a deliberate move to a new locale is, I think, a very attractive idea. Boulder? Worked in "The Stand".

Adam

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hobsen
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A very good suggestion, Adam. The Stand was a thought-provoking book, and this is indeed a novel and intriguing idea.
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Funean
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Until I was about eight, I simply assumed the capital was in the center of the country somewhere.

It's never made sense to me that we've kept it in what was, perhaps, a central location 150 years ago, but is now in arguably the worst spot possible, for all the reasons Richard mentioned and more.

While I'd rather not eat up our farmlands or, god forbid, our forests, with the urban infrastructure that would of necessity surround a new capital site, a more central location would do two things 1) be more, well, central and 2) give us an opportunity to build the kind of cityscape that best meets the communication, security, datatransport and just plain space needs of a megapower capital.

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LoverOfJoy
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In time they say that most of the population will speak spanish. Why don't we get prepared and move the capital to Puerto Rico? [Big Grin]

As a bonus, if someone decides to nuke the capital the mainland will remain safe. [Wink]

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scifibum
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How about no capital? Reps and officers and cabineteers can telecommute. I'm quite sure the budget for the technology would be less than the cost of replicating the current physical infrastructure. It might also force some of our lawmakers to understand the Internet. [Smile]

edited to fix typo: telecommunute. I like it as an accidental word invention though.

[ October 18, 2006, 11:46 PM: Message edited by: scifibum ]

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Jon Camp
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"Actual" geographic center is in North Dakota. "Center of the lower 48" is in Kansas somewhere.

I think either state would be falling all over itself to provide land for a new capital city, if only for the prestige and the hope of increased tourism revenues. Assuming that the idea of moving the capital ever actually was seriously discussed.

And it could happen. Look at Brazil, after all. . . .

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0Megabyte
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How about Four Corners? That might be a fun place.
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javelin
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You mean, near Deer Lake? [Big Grin]
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Loki
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Four Corners is not as fun as it seems, trust me.
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Clark
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I don't see why moving the capital to North Dakota, or Kansas would stop the bureaucracy or the special interests and lobbyists. I would fully expect that the lobbyists would be there setting up shop before the government managed to get a single office set up in Hiawatha, KS. (A lovely little town, by the way.)

While we're throwing out ideas, wouldn't it make more sence to move the capital to the center of the population, not the geographical center? After all, we are trying to govern people, not dirt. I seem to recall that the population center of the country is somewhere near St. Louis, and then it doesn't matter much if we include AK and HI.

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Colin JM0397
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Four corners not fun? Are you kidding?

Look at me! I'm in four states at once, whee! (few seconds pass)
Okay, I'm bored, lets go get some fry bread.

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kenmeer livermaile
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4 Corners? I dunno. Sounds kinda square to me...
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cperry
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Is there anything to be said for the history of DC, the architecture of the place, the monuments that have been established in DC? I don't suppose the move to Kansas would include relocating the Vietnam Wall or the Washington Monument?

Of course, as I'm definitely in the fallout area, I'd prefer the capital and capitol to be moved, but I think a lot would be left behind.

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DonaldD
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quote:
"Actual" geographic center is in North Dakota. "Center of the lower 48" is in Kansas somewhere.
Hmmm... I calculated/estimated the geographic center including Hawaii and Alaska to be 42° N 93° W - around Ames, Iowa.

The population center would be around 37° N 91° W - near Rolla, Missouri.

Not sure if you want the capital moving around the country as the population shifts, though...

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Dave at Work
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I like that population center idea Clark. It puts the Capitol closer to me giving me incentive to move back to one of the coasts again. I don't want to be anywhere near these politicians and lobbyists. Going with this idea, we could choose to recalculate the population center on a regular basis, say every half century, and move the Capitol as necessary, keeping lobyists, politicians, and ambassadors on their toes lesst they get too comfortable in one location.

We could also try something different. Choose a population level, say a quarter of a million people. Put all U.S. cities of at least that size on a list and every so often, say every two presidential election cycles, a random city from that list is chosen and the Capitol moves there. Whenever a Census is taken the city list gets updated. No permanent government buildings for Congress, the Senate, or the Administration. They have to rent existing space in the new Capitol. Do we move the Supreme Court as well or simply have it choose a permanent location somewhere? Do we make foreign embassies relocate along with the Capitol as well, or do we simply have them set up in a permanent location somewhere?

Edited to add:

You would probably have to choose the city a few years ahead of the move so that if there is not sufficient space available it can be built. Presumably such purpose built offcies would be designed so that they could be put to other uses later, and the builders would probably wish to charge a high enough rent to recoup their investment in the time that the government would be renting the space.

[ October 19, 2006, 11:59 AM: Message edited by: Dave at Work ]

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javelin
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Are we allowed to comment on whether we think it should move?

If so, here's my comments. If not, please ignore.

1. A lot of governmental money has gone into developing Washington, D.C. as the nation's capital. Spending more tax payer money to move it somewhere else seems wasteful, unless there is an excellent set of reasons.

2. Lobbyists have lots of money - that's what we complain about, right? So, do you honestly think that they won't find a way to be "part of the plan" when the new capital is planned out? That they won't find ways to be even more entrenched into the new capital? Hell, they'll probably build it for us, if we don't mind the fact that the President has to share his office with the lobbyist of the week, and that the front of the capital building has a big advertisement on it for Colgate.

3. A lot of things that were built to service our diplomacy efforts, including the U.N., were placed where they were, in part, because of where Washington, D.C. is. This could make for some problems.

4. As previously mentioned, we've got a lot of monuments in Washington, D.C. Also, the area around D.C. has huge historical significance in relation to both this nation's founding, and in the Civil War - two rather defining moments it's useful to keep track of. I LIKE the fact that Washington, D.C. is in the middle of that. I like people being reminded of these things when visiting our nation's capital. I don't particularly think wheat fields are as useful to this end

[ October 19, 2006, 12:05 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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Colin JM0397
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Speaking of fallout area... An east coast capital is the best in that regard due to the prevailing west-to-east wind patterns.

As long as one of them nor'easters doesn't kick up and suck it all back my way - we have enough toxicity in NJ already!

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flydye45
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jm 0397, where do you live in NJ?

Second, a physical movement means nothing. Shaking up the bureaucracy is another matter. The question is how do you shake out the wheat from the chaff.

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javelin
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quote:
The question is how do you shake out the wheat from the chaff.
Burn it all and let God sort it out? [Wink]
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Jesse
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We could leave all the monuments right where they are, as well as the Structures of Government as a warning about our nations Decadent past government.

Then, we construct Public Servant Barracks on the White Sands testing range, without air conditioning, using only the labor of our Representatives. They can sleep in tents until they get the work done.

They bang together a couple of Meeting Halls, the President constructs his office out of Filing Cabinets, and we ban both motor vehicles and the construction of any other buildings within 15 miles of the Political Sanitarium.

Once a week, we can Air-Lift them 21 MREs each. They will be permited to communicate with the outside by Carrier Pigeon, and may launch Signal Flares in the event of civil unrest inside the Sanitarium so that we can get news helicopters overhead and watch.

Each patient...I mean, politician...will be allowed out for purposes of campaigning for three days prior to an election in which they try to retain their seat.

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Dave at Work
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I like that one Jesse.

I think that we should do one more thing though. Have the candidates for each office compete in a deathmatch of some sort where all the candidates for an office go into an arena filled with weapons, traps, obsatcles and so forth and whoever comes out gets the office. If more than one come out they get sent back in, and if no one comes out the office remains empty until the next term. The matches can be televised and the proceeds used to pay for salaries and upkeep.

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Richard Dey
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There's certainly precedence for a peripetetic capital. I think the US has had ... 4? New York, Philadelphia, York, maybe more.

The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations actually benefited from having 4. It waited so long that it managed to get McKim Mead & White to do its capital (1895-1904) -- arguably the most beautiful in the country. It was begun 5 years before Providence became the sole capital. Newport had been the joint capital (1854-1900). For a long time Warwick was also a capital, and I think Portsmouth.

Is a 'government' really obliged to meet in the same old 'capital' all the time? No way! Isn't the idea that a government has a capital obsolete? I rather like the idea of telecommuniting.

As far as all that pseudo-romo monumentality is concerned, well, once WDC is decommissioned and turns into the slum that it really is, the city could sell off its monuments to stay afloat.

Think of the money that the government could earn for paying off the national debt just selling the contents of its museums, the furnishings of its offices, the chandeliers, the brass rails, its potted plants!

I do like the idea of keeping lobbyists and staff and embassies at leg's length ... and certainly giving early retirement to all those faithful servants would be welcomed.

I do think that leaving the Library of Congress behind would be a waste -- but the building itself might make a good mausoleum for somebody.

What an excellent extension for Arlington National Cemetery the District would make -- just when it was running out of plots!
_________________

For nonbelievers, McK, M, & W really did create a masterpiece. It's elegant. It is said that it's slightly larger than the state of which is capital.

http://www.buddenbooks.com/jb/cp995/pics/DSCN0034crop.jpg
http://cache.eb.com/eb/image?id=38273
http://www.cra.org/Activities/craw/dmp/awards/2002/hurtgen/nightscape.jpg

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kenmeer livermaile
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What's that spell!!!
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