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Should the government scatter its operations?

middleagedgamer

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Every major operation of the federal government is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Back when the United States first became a country, this was necessary in order to facilitate communication amongst the government officers, since neither Internet, nor even telephone, or even telegraph, existed at that time. Postal mail was the only method of long distance communication, and it was slow.

However, in this day and age, I am no further away, in terms of communication and the facilitation of information, than if you are standing right next to me. You can read this thread as quickly and easily as if we are kids passing notes in class.

I suggest that the United States federal government scatter its operations. All 535 Congressmen can operate out of their home or their own office. The nation is then divided into 16 districts of roughly equal land area. The President and Vice President set up office in one of those districts, and the 15 executive departments set up office in each of the remaining districts. The headquarters of a Department will not necessarily be in the same district as the headquarters of a subdivision within the department (e.g. the IRS will be headquartered in a different district that the Department of the Treasury).

Operations that are public record (such as Congress' meetings) can be done over the Internet, using webcams and Skype software. In the event that an operation needs to be secret, they can schedule meetings over the Internet, or using cell phones, and attend these meetings using taxpayer-provided private jets (which the President already gets, as part of the whole "secret service" thing).

I can see several benefits to this concept.

1. The Congressmen will now work in their constituents' own proverbial backyard. They will become more responsive, and, by proxy, less emotionally detached from the people. The people will also have a better, working knowledge of how their Congressmen are behaving in Congress, since they can now keep a much closer eye on them, without having to go too far out of their way.

2. This will happen for a lot of the executive branch, as well. With all fifteen departments scattered around the nation, the executive departments can bear witness to the fruits of their labor, first hand.

3. America has a lot of enemies. Osama bin Laden, Amadidijad, and (potentially) Hu Jintao, just to name a few (yes, even Hu Jintao. Obama may trust him, but I don't). Everyone remember Pearl Harbor? We had tons of military weapons in that one base; an attack on that caused a lot of damage. Granted, we struck back like never before, but, if said damage was done to the capital city, it really would be devastating. A nation with as many enemies as the United States cannot afford to have a political nerve center, like that. You can blow up the Twin Towers, and we'll strike back. You can blow up the Pentagon, or bomb a major military base, and we'll fight back with all our strength. But, if you destroy Washington, D.C. in its current state, you destroy the United States. Simple as that. That's like removing the brain (literally, why else do you think it's called the "nerve center?"). Scattering the operations would make accomplishing that a lot harder.
 

Tashah

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But, if you destroy Washington, D.C. in its current state, you destroy the United States. Simple as that. That's like removing the brain (literally, why else do you think it's called the "nerve center?"). Scattering the operations would make accomplishing that a lot harder.
How are contemporary threats more dangerous than the decades long Cold War when we knew for certain that probably dozens of Soviet nuclear-tipped ICBMs targeted DC? IIRC, there exists a Continuity of Government schematic which addresses a catastrophic scenario.

To my knowledge, no modern nation has ever dismantled its capital city due to possible external threats.
 

middleagedgamer

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How are contemporary threats more dangerous than the decades long Cold War when we knew for certain that probably dozens of Soviet nuclear-tipped ICBMs targeted DC? IIRC, there exists a Continuity of Government schematic which addresses a catastrophic scenario.

To my knowledge, no modern nation has ever dismantled its capital city due to possible external threats.
That doesn't mean it isn't a good idea.

EDIT: Also, the Internet was not near as prominent back then as it is, now, so being physically close to each other was still quite important in order to facilitate communication.
 

middleagedgamer

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It does have certain upsides. It also sounds expensive.
It's only a one-time charge, for the cost of relocation.

After that, the costs of maintaining it (due to long-distance communication) will be minimal, compared to past generations, due to the Internet.
 

Tashah

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After that, the costs of maintaining it (due to long-distance communication) will be minimal, compared to past generations, due to the Internet.
The Internet also has vulnerabilities. Look at the huge problems Iran is having with Stuxnet.
 

spud_meister

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It's only a one-time charge, for the cost of relocation.

After that, the costs of maintaining it (due to long-distance communication) will be minimal, compared to past generations, due to the Internet.
Of course, then you could knock out the entire legislative procedure with an EMP.
 

middleagedgamer

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The Internet also has vulnerabilities. Look at the huge problems Iran is having with Stuxnet.
Actually, I'm oblivious. Enlighten me.

Of course, then you could knock out the entire legislative procedure with an EMP.
It would be better than wiping out the entire government.

The computers might be temporarily disabled, but at least the Congressmen will be alive. They can simply resume their duties immediately after the EMP subsides.
 

CriticalThought

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I don't know if we are necessarily anymore secure relying on our communication networks for government than having them all in the same physical area. Given how sophisticated cyber attacks are probably going to become in the coming decades, I don't think I would want to risk having our government grind to a halt because of a powerful piece of malware.
 

CriticalThought

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The computers might be temporarily disabled, but at least the Congressmen will be alive. They can simply resume their duties immediately after the EMP subsides.
Um...any piece of electrical equipment that isn't triple copper plated is fried by an EMP. It really isn't all that different than being hit by a power surge. It all has to be completely replaced.
 

middleagedgamer

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Um...any piece of electrical equipment that isn't triple copper plated is fried by an EMP. It really isn't all that different than being hit by a power surge. It all has to be completely replaced.
Fine.

Go to Best Buy and get another damned computer! Just remember to save all your files to external flash drives.

I don't know if we are necessarily anymore secure relying on our communication networks for government than having them all in the same physical area. Given how sophisticated cyber attacks are probably going to become in the coming decades, I don't think I would want to risk having our government grind to a halt because of a powerful piece of malware.
You seem to think that the federal government does not already use computers extensively for their everyday activities.

After all that computer spending during the Space Race and the Cold War, there was no turning back. Now, the federal government uses computers almost as extensively as we do.

A cyber attack would be no more devastating under this concept than it already is.
 
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Tashah

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CriticalThought

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Just remember to save all your files to external flash drives.
Um...those too would be fried by an EMP.

You seem to think that the federal government does not already use computers extensively for their everyday activities.

After all that computer spending during the Space Race and the Cold War, there was no turning back. Now, the federal government uses computers almost as extensively as we do.

A cyber attack would be no more devastating under this concept than it already is.
If they are in the same physical area, they can still govern. They can still make laws. A cyber attack would be awful either now or later, but it would be considerably worse if our government officials couldn't even contact one anothher to pass any needed legistlation.
 

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I agree that congress should legislate over the internet and representatives should work from a local office. There should be one representative for every 250,000 person. The House should organize into 12 primary caucuses and each caucus should elect a leader. The leaders and members of the intelligence committee should go directly to Washington.
 

American

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I agree that congress should legislate over the internet and representatives should work from a local office. There should be one representative for every 250,000 person. The House should organize into 12 primary caucuses and each caucus should elect a leader. The leaders and members of the intelligence committee should go directly to Washington.
No .
 
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