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Virtually all disussions of political engagement assume that there is something inadequate about schools, families, the media, or the kids themselves--and I'm sure the Carnegie program will make one or more of these assumptions. It may be, too, that that all of these assumptions are valid. Nevertheless, there is another possibility, one that no one wants to talk about. This is the possibility that _government_ at all levels is structured in such a way as to be needlessly confusing, and that turns people off. Maybe governments should restructure themselves to be more understandable, and then maybe we would get more political engagement. Perhaps a games analogy would be helpful: the games people like to play are neither too simple nor too complex. Tic-tac-toe holds no one's interest after the third grade, and at the other end of the complexity spectrum very few people can get emotionally involved in military boardgames that take literally hours to learn the rules and days to play. People like to play games of middling complexity: Monopoly, Clue, poker, etc. Government, unfortunately, may be reaching a highly alienating level of complexity. This might help to explain why voter turnout was higher in the 1880s than it is now; we had a more understandable government back then. There were fewer agencies and fewer government functions. Of course, there is no going back to the 1880s--and there shouldn't be, in my view. But we could make government more understandable right now. For example, many states might have a Town of Smallville, a County of Smallville, and a City of Smallville, which makes it difficult to keep track of who is talking about what. At the federal level, we have a "Securities and Exchange Commission," as opaque a name as I've ever seen. Imagine yourself as a 14-year-old seeing that term for the first time. If you figure out what the SEC actually does and then you think it through, you might ask, "Why couldn't they have named it the Stock Market Regulation Commission?" It would be a good question. But once one starts thinking like this, people stop listening. Let's see how interested Carnegie will be in any of this. --Mark Koerner