The Path to Public Service at SEAS
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G. Mennen Williams, governor of Michigan, yesterday called upon the various state governments to take the lead in organizing "an imaginative retooling" of American local government.
Speaking under the auspices of the Graduate School of Public Administration, Williams said that the "complex of problems generated by the increasing urbanization of America" is "a new responsibility of state governments, a responsibility which cannot be evaded or transferred to Washington."
Unless state politicians produce "bold imaginative party leadership," Williams foresaw "a picture of frustrated scatteration of local governmental jurisdiction, clogged highways, polluted water and air, and crazy-quilt development."
Williams outlined a number of other "areas of public service" which, he said, should remain "the primary concern of the states." Among these were education, public health and mental health.
In general, he suggested that the federal government deal only with problems that could not be handled by the states individually.
Williams said that "as a governor, I have found the powers of the state impressive. The anaemia from which the states have been suffering is not an anaemia of power but of leadership. Lacking leadership, the power may be lost."
Scores Public Apathy
Ht attributed "public apathy towards the government in the states" to inept and timid party leadership on the state level. The result of this situation, he said, might well be "eventual federal centralization."
Williams began his lecture with "a brief political history of the United States" in which he examined the shifting powers of the state and federal governments. He attempted "to indicate how divided we are in our thinking about the proper role of the state."
He pointed out that on many occasions people who wish "to gain a particular objective" use the states rights issue merely to advance their private purpose.
Thus "while there is a very real legal, governmental, and philosophical question about the balance between state and federal powers, more often than not the real question at issue is some other matter masquerading as an issue of state and federal rights."
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