Abstract: There are three common ideas about how to organize the city-state-federal relationship. All three, I think, are misguided. The first seeks to consolidate power in a centralized government-sometimes at the national level, but more often at the state or regional level. The second is the opposite idea: it seeks to empower city governments by giving them autonomy to make their own decisions about the policies that shape their future. The third seeks a middle course, dividing the functions of government into different categories, with each level of government having jurisdiction over some, but not all, of the categories. After sketching what is wrong with these three ideas, I will offer a different approach.