Independence, Interdependence, and… Infrastructure?

By Frances Akridge
Huntsville City Council Representative
District 2

“Government is always a work in progress” said Mayor Battle, as we left a meat-n-three restaurant following a meeting to discuss the purpose and responsibilities of the Citizens Advisory Council to the Police Department. Since the beginning of time, yes, government is a work in progress. 

As we continue to celebrate precious freedom and independence from the mercantile rule of the crown of England and the awesome courage of the Founding Fathers, another word must also come to mind throughout July: interdependence.

How did interdependence manifest itself in the history of our country? While it’s elementary to recall that the thirteen British colonies of North America traded products that were conducive to their own geography, climate and skills, let us also recall that the interdependent colonies had some practice in self government and representation before 1776. After the birthing, quickly, the structure of the new government needed to be established. It was a feat of determination that during the bloody Revolutionary War, the delegates created these United States through the Articles of Confederation, which were not ratified by the states until 1781!

Eventually, the independent states and freedom loving people devolved into deep debt and absolute chaos. How might they resolve the disagreements and decisions that would affect all the states with so many people involved? If Phil Donohue, TV psychologist was alive then he might have asked the group “How’s that working for you?” Answer: Not so well. So they regrouped. I read that most of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention, who had already risked being hanged as traitors by the British, were certainly worried about their own neighbors’ reactions to their decision to abandon the Articles of Confederation and create an entirely new agreement in a new document: the Constitution. The founders had to find a more perfect balance between liberty and order by way of the Constitution they produced in 1787. It also became a work in progress.  

Today, I remind myself how critical and ingrained interdependence was for our nascent country and now, just 245 years later. Interdependence between neighborhoods allows our municipal government to provide services across 220 square miles. Once in awhile, a citizen asks me, “Why can’t we keep our sales tax and/or property taxes in this area for our own infrastructure?” (And that usually means paving roads). I ask that they recall the long history of interdependence throughout civilization and respectfully suggest that if independence is still critical to them that they do some research, find out if it’s possible to de-annex and create a new city with its own tax base to pay for infrastructure and services while making investments to pay for it. After all, government is always a work in progress. 

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