Cantons as a way to redistribute power

Today, I have the special opportunity to introduce, guest blogger, Dwight Johnson. He is a fascinatingly brilliant blogger and author. He recently wrote a book entitled “If Not Democracy” (Kindle Edition found here for $2.99
) that I would highly recommend you check out on Amazon.

Let me start by thanking Terry for this opportunity to guest post on his fantastic site.

Terry asked me to do a guest post after he found himself at my website,

[amazon_link id=”1466384514″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]If Not Democracy: Essays on the Canton Movement[/amazon_link]I have been a libertarian for many years, and have been working to develop a means to bring real freedom to our world. The specific means I have developed is thru the creation of ideologically-based voluntary organizations I call “cantons”. The inspiration for the name comes from the cantons of Switzerland, but unlike those cantons, the cantons I speak about are non-territorial. In this way they are more like political parties.

The difference between political parties and cantons is that the purpose of political parties is to get people of a certain ideological stripe elected to office. The purpose of cantons, on the other hand, is to decentralize the power of government. It does this by a contract between the canton and its members. That contract, good for one year, gives the canton the right to take possession of the taxes taken by a particular governing body. Here, for example, is what my contract with a federal level paleo-libertarian canton might say: “I, Dwight Johnson, authorize the Paleo-libertarian Canton of America to receive from the Internal Revenue Service all the taxes paid to that agency by me during the tax year of 2011”.

Now, if my canton goes to the IRS with just this one contract, not much will happen. (Do I have a gift for understatement?) But what would happen if some large proportion of the 90 million taxpayers in America signed such a contract with some number of cantons? If we believe the words of the Declaration of Independence about “governments … deriving there just powers from the consent of the governed”, we certainly could take control of our taxes.

What happens then? The canton then spends those taxes according to the principles and values of its members. There would be numerous cantons, each reflecting the myriad of principles and values that so clearly exist in the population. Each canton, receiving the taxes of its members, would spend those taxes accordingly on the services provided by the various departments of government. By this means we would be able to right-size government at every level, by making sure that the people who pay the taxes determine what the taxes pay for. Any canton that fails to act according to the principles and values of its members will find its members fleeing to other cantons. With such an incentive, I expect cantons to be fairly responsive to their members.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) people. It was in thinking about their causes that I was able to better understand the role of cantons. I agree with OWS in this: it is clear that there has been a concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. The wealthy are growing more wealthy in a disproportionate way, the middle class is disappearing, and the poor grow daily in number and desperation. This concentration of wealth coincides with a parallel concentration in power that has also been steadily growing thru the years. Cantons are a way to redistribute power back to the people. It is my firm belief that the redistribution of power will bring with it a redistribution of wealth. Where now the wealthy few, such as the bankers and many global businesses, use their armies of lobbyists to create regulations and laws that work to their advantage (this is called “crony capitalism”), when power is redistributed to the people thru cantons, the lobbyists will lose much of their power, and along with them the bankers and others who have been successful at redirecting the taxes we pay into their own pockets.

There is a lot of talk of big government versus small government, but who is to say what size government is the right size? If those who pay taxes can determine what the taxes pay for thru cantons, only those services that governments propose to supply will find funding if the service is considered necessary by enough cantons. Everything else will be starved to death by a lack of interest and funding. This is what I call “right-sizing” government.

I am a great fan of Ron Paul. I was very excited when he entered the presidential race back in 2007, and have contributed to his campaigns ever since. But we cannot depend on one man, however great, to ensure our freedom. Even if we have the great joy of witnessing the inauguration of President Ron Paul, we still need to find a way to redistribute power in government at every level: federal, state, county, and municipal. If anyone has a better way of doing it other than thru cantons, let me know.

For anyone living in South Jersey, join my meetup group, South Jersey Canton Formation Group, at

If you want to find out more about cantons, please come visit my blog, You can also find my book on Amazon, called “If Not Democracy”.

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