Go Home, Mae West
Published on: April 21, 2010
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  • Roy

    As a matter of passing interest, Mae West, whose mother was reputed to be Jewish, grew up in Queens.

  • jp

    How would this shift, effect American Foreign Policy? To some of the “States Rights” minded crowd, the cranky Ron Paul side, while they claim to be States Rights anarcho-Libertarians, Paul himself has pretty much stated disarming America and closing all Military bases is his top priority. He went as far as to tell the Left doign this would fund National Health Care, and he was okay with that because one day we’d come to our ‘senses’ on freedom and Return to market based healthcare…(Google: “Ron Paul Make love not War” for article)

    I think Gay Marriage is a Federal Issue, though like abortion is easier to argue as a State Issue. Since Marriage is a contract, and the Constitution says all States must honor contracts issued in other States, all it takes is a [gay] marriage in Vermont, then move to Utah for the Law suit to push this down all states whether they want it or not.

    Interestingly, today I heard Glenn Beck for 10 minutes in car, he has been reading up on George Whitefield the great Anglican/Calvinist preacher of the “Great Awakening”. IMO, he is actually right about where we must turn, and some control does indeed need to go back to the States.

    Right now the country, whether the radical left or the fringe idiots like the Ron Paul/Lew Rockwell anarcho-right sound alot more like the French Revolution than they do the American Revolution.

  • lotuseater

    “But no system is perfect and returning responsibility for more of these issues to the states will promote a healthier and more vital national debate and in time, I believe, will lead to greater public acceptance of minority rights and viewpoints.”

    So “in time” .. eh Mr. Mead ? ” In time ” not today but “in time” . Get It?

  • I agree with the statement ” (and with special attention to race given its special constitutional status) ” but at the same time this position is a cleft stick since, as we see over and over again, one special status gives rise to endless demands for others slipstreaming in on and adapting the special pleading of race.

  • Peter

    “I believe that the time has come when we urgently need to move power and policy from the federal level back to the states and localities.”

    Amen, brother. And it is encouraging to hear such sensibility from an establishment insider like Walter Russell Mead and his use of the word ‘urgently.’

    But whether the Washington elite, the Democratic and even the Republican Party, the mainstream media, etc. agree or not, that’s the way power is going flow — and it will happen faster than most of you realize.

  • Norm

    An interesting analysis, Dr. Mead. As a practical matter, contemporary politicians and legal precedent tend to read the commerce clause so expansively and the 10th Amendment so narrowly that the sort change in direction that you would support would require a startling repudiaton of the current Democratic Party and its policies similar to the shellacking the GOP got from the New Deal so that massively different legislative directions would be enacted and affirmed by the Supreme Court.

    Less politically, this column is a perfect segue into a visit to your work on the “Blue Model” and what would be plausible alternatives and stable, effective substitutes for the services provided by the “Blue Model”.

  • Mr. Mead, I’ve been a long-time reader of your blog and books (“God and Gold” is one of my favorites. Thank you for that), but I’ve never had the compunction to comment. But as an economic development official in a large, sparsely-populated western state, the above blog goes straight to the heart of many issues my colleagues and I struggle with daily. Intellectually and ideologically, you’ll find no greater fan than I of Thoreau’s assertion that “the government that governs least governs best.” And for those of us in the west at least, we would add that the government that governs closest to the people (locally) governs best as well. So I for one agree that the Blue Model needs to evolve or more accurately devolve in a way like you recommend.

    However, what seems to be good for democracy and civic virtue often leaves much to be desired when complex, regional or national problems need to be solved. For example, the west has many land-use, water rights and environmental issues to confront. While we deeply resent the generally arrogant and dismissive proscriptions often advocated by far-off progressive elites on the coasts, the issues they highlight are in fact real and urgent. While I am very sure that the outcome will be better if local governments here find solutions for these problems rather than giant federal agencies or congressional committees whose staffers have never ventured west of the 100th meridian, I am not as sure how that will practically happen. Ground water aquifers, for example, can lie beneath half a dozen states. Much of our public land is legally under the stewardship of the federal government, so the feds do have a legal right to a seat at the table (loathsome as we find that). The externalities of environmental damage in one place (for example, the impact of cyanide leaching in gold mining on fish habitats at the bottom of the mountain) are rarely passed on to the end users in price (the price paid for diamond earrings at Saks 5th Avenue), and so we all end up paying in way (sometimes the fish most of all). We absolutely don’t want the federal government telling us how to fix this stuff. Of course, at the same time I’m forced to admit that besides the federal government, no alternative institution exists with authority and expertise to make binding legal agreements on many of these issues. The default result is often incredibly slow, incremental collaborative arrangements that completely bore the public, provide job security for lawyers and leave nearly every stakeholder frustrated and resentful in some way. And just as predictably, they rarely “solve” the problem, but merely kick the can a little further down the road.

    This same dilemma exists in dozens of other complex, regional and national problems such as food policy, ag policy, renewable energy development, energy transmission, transportation infrastructure, education, and on and on and on. Americans don’t trust the federal government and why should they. But I’m interested in your opinion of what will fill in the gap without producing paralysis and conflict.

  • RKV

    A Reader: “what will fill the gap?” you ask? In many cases (education for instance and energy to name two specifics), let’s try something the self-appointed elites seem to have forgotten – the market. So much of what policy makers percieve as complexity is complex because of government involvement and politics – but I repeat myself. Unanticipated consequences of government policy are doing at least as much damage as the “tragedy of the commons” – take what the welfare state has done to family life in the black community as one example. Subsidize poverty and you’ll get more of it sure as hades.

  • Anon Y. Mous

    In addition, the federal government has a special historical responsibility to assure African-Americans equal treatment under the law. This responsibility, given to the federal government by the Civil War-era amendments to the Constitution and renewed by the Civil Rights movement, requires the federal government to monitor a range of practices in the private sector and in state and local governments across the land.

    I disagree with just a few words of that, but they are huge in meaning. I would agree, if edited to remove the words “in the private sector and”. The post-war amendments (13, 14 & 15) give the federal government the authority and the duty to regulate the state governments, but not private individuals (with the solitary exception of prohibiting anyone form owning a slave). All the laws that the federal government has enforced against private businesses and individuals regarding discrimination are not a constitutional use of power. The argument that they have the authority to tell a mom and pop diner that they are not allowed have separate seating for different races is made as an interstate commerce argument. That is not what that clause of the constitution is about. Just because a traveler might stop in to get a cup of coffee does not mean that congress gets to regulate every aspect of that business. I personally have no desire to patronize an establishment that has segregated seating or otherwise practices race discrimination, but I would rather let my dollars do the talking to the business community than have the federal government make up powers for itself.

  • Richard40

    One sentence in your article, about residents of a state having the option to leave and move to another state if their state government is too oppressive to them, is one of the major reasons for having as much power as possible reside in the states. The other is that states must eventually balance their budgets.

    Both these things combine to provide a major deterrent to the tax and spend and regulate crowd at the state level. Raise taxes and regulations too much and the businesses and taxpayers move to another state (as is happening to California and New York now). Spend too much and the state goes broke.

    These same restraints are largely missing at the federal level. It is much harder to leave the country, rather than leaving a state (although some oppressed taxpayers are starting to do that, with Obamas huge tax hikes on the upper brackets). And if the federal government spends too much and goes broke, it takes every state down with it, not just the foolish ones like California, but wiser, more frugal states like Texas, that might have opposed the excess spending.

  • Amused Observer

    Race is specifically denied special status under the equal protection under the law provisions of the 14th. Equal protection affirms the rights of a citizen as an individual and forbids the ability to differenciate rights between classes of citizenry.

  • narby

    With power devolved to the States, we can again have competition between them, where people vote with their feet. This competition was surely a powerful reason for the original success of the United States and we need it again.

    Voting with feet isn’t often an option between nations, but the US States had this advantage and it was a good thing.

  • brodie

    I have been thinking with A Reader (above) about the need for interstate affairs/activities (what will fill the gap if we dial-back the fed influence?).

    To fill the gap between an intrusive, heavy-handed federal government hiding behind the commerce clause and completely independent states, why can’t the states enter into agreements (treaties, if you will) between themselves without involving federal control and administration?

    I see this often within states where two or more adjacent local governments bond together to form agreements over various service or policy needs. Perhaps some enabling federal legislation would be required, allowing states to form binding interstate agreements as they see fit. There is no practical reason why many border-crossing issues could not be handled by the parties alone without federal administration, money, control. Federal courts may have to cover the agreements, but Congress and Executive would not be involved except in enabling legislation.

    Regarding Congress, we simply MUST take our money away from them. It’s the only path toward bending the corruption curve.

  • dave72

    “In a perfect world, the federal government would not need these powers, but with almost 400 years of history behind us on this issue, federal action remains necessary as we struggle to defeat the lingering after-effects of the great national curse of race prejudice.” – W. R. Mead

    LOL! Have you ever lived in another country?? Racism is a world wide fact, not a USA anomaly. Our “great national curse?” Pure baloney. The virulent racism I have observed first hand while living in Europe and Asia makes the US look like a paragon of virtue. And the worst racism of all that I have seen many times in the US, is the racism of light skinned blacks imposed on dark skinned blacks. Never lived in Africa, but I’ll bet you a bundle it is just the same there.

  • Jocon307

    I have to comment to A Reader. While I have no experience with the issues you is discussing I imagine many of them could be resolved through regional agreements. Perhaps there would be some role for the Federal govt in such arrangements, perhaps not.

    Your whole posts reads as this: we hate the Feds, but we must defer to them.

    Yeah, we do, and no we don’t.

    We are supposed to be a self-governing people and for far too long we have left that job to others. To the elites and their stooges the mobs.

    Those days must be at an end now. We need to do the difficult work of self-governance, just like in those old west days.

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  • hang5

    As a frustrated “tenther” tea party citizen this article, it’s suggestions for the tea party movement and the thoughtful questions raised by A Reader are spot on. I would only like to add one observation to the conversation. As the states muddle through the process of finding answers to the problems that beset them, as they try out different solutions that match the needs and will of the local voters they will inevitably try unique solutions to similar problems. A messy process at the time but it not only allows solutions that match the needs of the community but serves as an experimental petri dish for other communities to select from. The “one solution fits all” approach of the federal government becomes supplanted by tested ideas that work.

  • phil g

    Great post Mr. Mead. We need to get back to limiting civil rights to American blacks. If I see one more special recognition for being a successful ‘hispanic’ when said ‘hispanic’ is as ethnic European as I am, my head will surely explode.

  • el polacko

    i don’t get why the feds were right to intervene to protect the rights of black people but equality under the law for gay folks should be left up to the states. we have federal courts for the very purpose of protecting the civil rights of all citizens according to the constitution. that’s not ‘big government’ that’s our american system of government.

  • Dagny

    It is a mistake to think that the Tea Party is only holding gatherings with signs. The people at the rallies are just the tip of the iceberg. Please don’t flatter yourself (“But for social movements to rise past the level of ephemeral protest, they need to do more than talk about what they don’t like) by thinking your “insight” is original. Dig deeper and you will find that the Tea Party has risen past protest and is making changes as I write this.

  • Michael Bender

    As a practical matter, I don’t think that we will be able to stem the tide of growth of the Federal Government without the repeal of the 17th amendment.

  • Luke Lea

    The problem with state and local governments, at least in my experience, is that they are even more opaque than the federal, certainly for ordinary citizens. The collapse of the local newspaper, which provided the little investigative reporting there was, makes the situation worse, as does the collapse of organized labor, which, whatever its faults, at least made its presence felt at the state and local level.

    Until something takes the place of independent local newspapers and organized labor — I have some ideas which I will not bother to bore you with — this situation seems unlikely to change. Making democracy work is a bitch!

  • Luke Lea

    By organized labor, by the way, I meant something besides teachers’ and government employees’ unions, whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of the public. Coming from a labor family, I am only glad my father isn’t here to see it.

  • Chris

    It seems to me that our only hope to devolve power to the states is that the states attempt to make a case and courts decide in their favor.

    The officials and bureaucrats in the central government will never let it happen unless it is forced upon them.

    That’s the problem. I don’t trust them to do anything except to gather in more power and influence under their own control. It is not even necessary to fault them for this. They see themselves as holding the key to “solve” the nation’s problems. Taking the decisions out of their hands, they will construe as an irrational act.

  • All, excellent comments and I appreciate everyone’s insights on this issue. Two ideas mentioned above deserve a good discussion and I would love to keep the conversation going if anyone is interested.

    Market Solutions: this is, of course, an option for almost every social, political and economic problem. I’ve read Adam Smith, vos Mises, Hayek and Friedman too and I always prefer market solutions to most others. RVK mentions education as a public good that needs a healthy injection of market dynamics to improve. I completely agree. But there are other issues that the market has a hard time really addressing. Take the example I use of cyanide leaching in gold mining. For a free market to solve this problem, i.e. to use supply and demand vis-à-vis a price signal back to the miners, it would be necessary that the consumers of the gold do several things. First they would have to know that incredibly toxic chemicals are left out in the open in leach pits scattered high above free running rivers full of fish. All it would take is for a pit or storage tank or tanker truck to leak and cyanide flows into the river, into the fish and into our water supply. Second they would have to care. Third, even if they knew and cared, they would have to consciously choose not to buy gold jewelry because of the danger to fish habitats and humans living out in those dusty western states. I don’t know about you, but the likelihood of all that happening on a large enough scale to force the miners to not use cyanide leaching seems remote. On the other hand, you could rely on the civic virtue of the miners to not want to ruin the fish habitats and poison themselves through their own water supply (because they live in the town where the water goes). Or if they lack a humane concern for themselves and the planet, at least they should not want to get the snot sued out of them if things went wrong. It should be pure self-interest. Or so it would seem. Unfortunately, from personal experience and a decently broad reading of history and human nature, we humans seem uniquely capable of convincing ourselves of anything. I’ve listened many times to the safety engineers from the Colorado School of Mines tell me over and over with a zeal worthy of a missionary among heathen that the leach pits will never, EVER leak. They’re always sincere these safety engineers. The operations managers (at ~90K a year) and investor relations VP (~probably 120K a year) standing calmly next them are just as convinced. Then I look at the huge pit of toxic goo lined with some kind of plastic. And I look at the little river down below. Then back at goo. I guess they know what they’re talking about, right? (and for the record, I’m a Republican supply-side Reaganite who eats meat and owns firearms before anybody gets any ideas)

    State-to-state treaties: I love that idea. There’s a lot of people trying to work toward regional solutions. This reminded me of Philip Bobbit’s “The Shield of Achilles” in which he argues that the nation-state is evolving into market states that are more like the EU and ASEAN than the sovereign entities we’ve seen running the global system since Westphalia. Maybe a similar devolution to regional intra-state institutions will be developed within North America. Sounds promising. And states can pretty much reach agreements already through MOUs and such that are like treaties in a lot of ways. The problem is enforcement. These agreements are kind of like UN resolutions. You still need somebody with legal authority (and sometimes a gun) to settle disputes in the end. There’s only two kinds of courts: state and federal. When states having a falling out, neither is going to allow the other’s courts get the case and compel the other to yield. That leaves the federal courts as the final arbiter. The operative word here is “federal.” So here comes the big Blue Model back with a vengeance and a court order.

    I really appreciate everyone’s willingness to share their ideas. This is a great blog.

  • John Barker

    Where I live, schools are being bribed by the fed to implement drastic restructuring programs based on models that have no proven efficacy. 3.5 billion is on its way nationwide to fund a project whose failure is more likely than success. I imagine that we will see some “creative” assessment devices or the teachers will be blamed for sabotaging the visions of the anointed.

  • john

    You must really enjoy leaving little land mines buried in your articles.

    “Providing for the national defense, managing the country’s international engagements and commitments, supporting economic development through the provision of a sound national currency and the prudent (but not innovation-suppressing) regulation of financial markets, and the regulation of interstate commerce are all big assignments and they cannot be fulfilled without a strong national state.”

    Everything was going along smoothly until we get to the “commerce clause.” This clause and other favorite of Big Government statists everywhere, the “general welfare” clause, are the two cornerstones of the REAL giant vampire squid (apologies to Goldman Sachs for the use of their moniker) that is the Imperial Federal Government.

    The commerce clause was intended by the signers and the ratifiers of the U.S. Constitution to ensure that no quotas or tariffs or other instruments were put in place by the States that would impede the free flow of commerce between the peoples of all the States in the union. It has been used instead to justify an oppressive regime of regulations and taxes which accomplishes exactly the opposite. Commerce clause abuse must be tamed before a “strong” but constitutional, federal government can be re-established.

    But you knew that. Right?

  • practical

    Repeal the 17th Amendment

  • Almost Supporter

    I could have supported a lot of what you said, but the fact that you want to limit equal protection to race, and give states the opportunity to enact different policies on gay rights shows simple bigotry, and renders your article unworthy of being given consideration.

    N.B. The text of the 14th Amendment does not only protect racial minorities, but all citizens (should states be permitted to act on their own to forbid women from working or holding public office?)

  • Drew

    State’s rights is something everyone agrees with… until guns from Mississipi wind up in Massachussets and gays from Massachussets wind up in Mississipi. Then, suddenly, people on the other side of the ocean are concerned about the health of Terry Schiavo or the abortion clauses in New York City.

    But, other than that, I agree strongly with the general spirit of the article.

    And, for what its worth, Obama’s stimulus was largely a huge transfer of borrowed federal money to the states. I think he deserves credit for that, whatever the debatable merits of the stimulus may be.

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  • thibaud

    @Drew – “Obama’s stimulus was largely a huge transfer of borrowed federal money to the states. I think he deserves credit for that, whatever the debatable merits of the stimulus may be”

    I too supported that aspect of the stimulus– until I actually looked into one portion of it in an area of concern to me and my kids’ school, and found out that the state-level administration of the stimulus was and is a complete fiasco.

    Short version: the federalist argument fails when you consider that most state governments are even more incompetent, opaque, self-dealing, clownish and corrupt than the worst federal agency.

    Long version: Last year I researched various sources of Recovery Act funding for after-school science programs for my children’s northern California public school district, which has been hit with a 14% reduction in its operating budget and which is laying off teachers. I found that $6.6B has been “made available” to the California Department of Education for a variety of education-related projects, of which $4.7B has been “paid out”: roughly $3.2B for “stabilization” ie filling the holes in the state’s operating budget, and a little over $1B for special ed and programs for disadvantaged schoolkids.

    That left about $400m paid out– where?– and another $1.9B made available but not paid out– where’s that?

    Here’s where the fun starts. To locate the missing billions, I began calling and emailing local elected officials as well as CDE officials.

    My congressman’s staff didn’t have any idea where the money was but guessed that the money resided with the state, and referred me to the state legislature. My state assemblyman had no clue, so I reached out to a neighboring South Bay assemblyman whose staff supposedly had some expertise on education, Ira Ruskin of Palo Alto. His staff tried valiantly but failed to make sense of the missing $1.9B or the mysterious $400m actually paid out. Finally I was routed to the assemblyman’s budget expert, who realized that I knew much more than he about the matter and cheerfully signed off with “Let me know what you find out, huh?”

    So I tried to navigate Sacramento. The CDE staff had no idea, and referred me to local officials. The school district CFOs I called couldn’t help.

    The City of San Jose’s economic development team was stymied and referred me back to Sacramento, to the governor’s office, where, after discussions with three senior officials of the governor’s economic development and executive staffs, I realized that no one had any idea regarding how much money was allocated, for what purpose and with what restrictions, and how much was spent and how much remaining.

    Finally, after three weeks of calls and emails and online sleuthing, I chanced on the only person in this entire process who had a competent explanation, a staffer at Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Recovery Act Task Force, who briskly noted that the Governor had recently redirected the $1.9B in education-related stimulus money to CA correctional facilities!

    Aside from her, no one I talked to at any level of government, either in the CDE, the local school districts, or any legislative office at the state or federal level, was aware that billions had been diverted from education funding in this manner.

    As to the $400m, I’m pretty sure that was allocated to the “School Impovement Program”, which specifically allocates money for facilities improvements such as those we seek to undertake. But no one in my child’s district, or the other local school districts, could even locate these funds, let alone apply for them, and the only CDE official who bothered to return my calls said they were not available.

    If you thought this sounds like Katrina, you’re right. The implementation of ARRA has been a fiasco characterized by fed-state-local incompetence, farcical cluelessness, zero accountability and bait-and-switching.

    Ultimately, the act has served to create a grab-bag for state and local pols to backfill their budget gaps and fund wishlist programs that would not stand the light of public scrutiny– in other words, a vehicle for evading the desperately needed reforms and government employment cutbacks that, in the Emanuel formulation, this crisis would have and should have enabled.

    In sum, a federalist approach, ie turning billions over to the state government, has yielded:

    * multi-level governmental ignorance: none of the above actors except the governor’s Task Force staffer showed any responsibility for even trying to understand what was happening with the money

    * zero accountability: note how everyone passed the buck, an how not one actor stepped up and took any ownership of the process

    * undisclosed shell games: restrictions (like those on use of School Improvement Program funds) apply to thee, not to me, the state official who grabs $2B from education and diverts it to gain cover for a massively failing criminal justice approach

    * god-forbid-we-should-let-the-private-sector-help: never mind that the cronies and public employee unions receiving the funds– or merely blocking them from being spent at all– aren’t creating any jobs.

    State and local governments are failing to an even greater extent than Washington is. Federalism’s no answer to our mess.

  • Athanasius

    From an empirical political perspective, there is an ironic twist to this ‘story’. The states that would suffer most from decentralization would be those with the weakest state institutions. From Putnam (2000) and Elazar (1966), we know that means primarily the South. Yet, they are likely to be the states most in favor of such a change. In contrast, populations in states most likely to benefit from decentralization, those high in social capital and good governance are most likely to oppose your suggestion. Normatively, I’m with you on this one. From a liberal theoretical perspective, what you describe is a growing ‘democratic deficit’ problem, and the argument for increasing democratization of institutional power in the present environment is a strong one.

  • LillithMc

    The idea of regional groups joining to solve problems makes sense to me. Going back to “state’s rights” just stirs up the civil rights nuts who never got over losing the Civil War. Look at Europe and how difficult it is for them to get along. Arizona is beginning a wave of rebellion that could get ugly very fast, Or Colorado Springs who eliminated government and let the crooks know about it. The Supreme Court ignored the rights of the citizens of Florida in order to select George W. But they could turn on a dime if they think they are on the “right” side. This is the next major issue for the US and the question is can we remain the United States or if you select the right state group with 52 different sets of laws and values we might be able to respond to what were national problems if we could have a conversation.

  • Kyle 513

    A populist movement that was started by the former majority leader of the House of Representatives? That drew, according to its own organizers, at most 1000 to its big annual tax day protest? Rallies supporting tax INCREASES to save school funding in Illinois and Ohio each drew far larger crowds, and was not covered by the American Conservative Media.

    Hey, lets have a tea party rally to protest big government on the Washington Mall, a public park run by the government; get there the cheapest by taking the metro there, run by the government; collect our SSDI checks, run by the government.

    When asked, 80% of the people do not trust ‘big government’ but ask them if they like the services the gov’t provides- schools, roads, police, firemen, libraries, social security, public transportation- certainly most respondents like those programs. Now if you want to talk efficient govt, reigning in contracts based on capitalistic cronyism or bloated pensions, thats a different topic for discussion, and not the message of the tea party.

  • Kyle 513

    Interesting how the Conservative State of Arizona is about to pass a law that will require MORE big government-the “Papers Please” Law. Law enforcement officials will be faced with a huge decision, each choice will lead to more government spending. If they racially profile and only ask Latinos for their papers, they risk expensive racial profiling lawsuits. If they ask everyone, they certainly do not have the staffing levels to enforce this proposed law and protect the citizens of the state.

    Lets be honest here, Conservatives love big government and love government involvement in our lives. They just want the government to do what THEY want it to do, intimidate and scare.

  • David Wright

    Have you been paying attention to the nutwings in Arizona and Florida legislatures? What we need is less not more of this trash.

  • Pat

    Mr. Mead you are the best!

    Keep up the great thinking and writing and our country will be the better for it.


  • Peter

    American public schools are disgraces.

    Yes education is essential to the country but becasue 1) of the way our public education system is structured, 2) the inordinate amount of influence we allow to narrow self-interest groups like the teachers unions to have, and 3) the screwball education fads we permit to be inflicted on our children, the return on investment in public education is terrible.

  • Mr. Lynch

    Mr Mead:

    Fine sentiments, worthily expressed. If only your fellow “progressives” realized, as you apparently do, how much they depend on coercion to make universal the kind of “progress” they crave. It is not enough for them to carve out a place where they can live their values unmolested, but — with religion-like zeal — they demand that no place on earth be without the particular liberality they enjoy, no matter how many people they might be offending by doing so.
    No wonder the progressives no longer call themselves “liberal” (from the latin for “free”). Freedom is the last thing they are for.

  • Gern

    States having greater rights makes sense from many points of view. The current advocacy of centralizing power leads to situations like we have with education. Innovation is stifled because we have to get two political parties and everyone in the country to agree an idea has merit before we can even experiment. If states made the lions share of educational decisions then we’d have 50 different playgrounds in which to try new ideas and the ones that actually work would bubble to the top. We’d actually get change, rather than lip service to it and the change would be to those ideas with proven merit.

    I’m completely in favor of Massachusetts enacting their health care reform, even if I wouldn’t want it for myself. I support their ability to make that decision for themselves. If their system succeeds other states will follow and the idea will take root across the country. If, however, as many people suspect it will be a dismal failure I’d rather know that before decide single payer is the way to go country wide.

    One can’t help escape the feeling that this is the primary reason to advocate against state rights. That the opposition stems from a desire to have the power to control over other people through a strong central government. That a strong central government is necessary to reign in freedom and individual choice, because they are a threat to enacting some personal vision of utopia. States rights would make those ideas survive or fail on their merits and might prove that vision of utopia is impractical and flawed.

    The bottom line is I don’t want the federal government limiting my freedom to decide what goods and services are worth to me, and exchanging those goods and services with others at a value we mutually determine is acceptable (so long as that exchange does not harm another). Nor do I want them coming in after the fact and saying “no no no someone is getting too rich here (presumably because the value they offer is to great.) We need to take some of their money and give it to someone who is making less (presumably because what they contribute to the welfare of others is less valuable).” I have far less of an issue with states infringing on people’s freedom because if they do so to the determent of the citizens of the state there is always the option to go elsewhere, and other states can serve as an example of a better way.

  • In Cal

    re: Kyle
    “Hey, lets have a tea party rally to protest big government on the Washington Mall, a public park run by the government; get there the cheapest by taking the metro there, run by the government; collect our SSDI checks, run by the government.”

    I wasn’t aware the TP was for the abolishment of government, or of all government services, and concerned itself much with local spending over the massive federal spending.

    Persoanlly I’m against all of those services you mentioned being run by government and think private industry can do it better.

    We could get into a big discussion on the merits of that or I could just do as you do and bring up a hypothetical question which has no answer and bring it up as some kind of argument in favor of some kind of point I’m trying to make hmm?

    Somehow I feel an attempt at legitimate discussion with certain types of people is pointless…

  • Dick Hertz

    This is all wonderful fantasy, like most libertarian economics and policy. The reason the federal government gets involved in these issues is because there are problems states can’t or won’t solve by themselves. You might remember the Civil War? The Great Compromise? Water wars? Range wars?
    The Federal government has spent years trying to get the public involved in everything from transportation to environmental impact planning. The public doesn’t care that much about most things. And the states are broke. Only the federal government can handle many issues and it is a strength of our nation. Secession, state’s rights and breaking up of states is the cartoon fantasy of bumbling dipsticks like Rick Perry and civil war re-enactors. The system is working-it’s the citizens that aren’t doing their part.

  • Christian

    Lets put something into perspective for Post WWII Europe, the US, Canada and the west. They were all rebuilding after the war and Europe needed strong governments because of imminent attack from Russia and later the cold war…social programs were part and parcel to keep the peace of stable governments AND IT COULD BE FINANCED BY A GROWING ECONOMY.

    Yet look at Europe with socialism is complete apathy: Political Correctness, reproductive rates below replacement level, open border immigration, offloading defence to the US, state unions keep the state bankrupt and state centered social programs keep private sector innovation and assimilation at a minimum. In essence Europe is dead.

    But this justification of socialism/communism is 100 years old in Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, 70 years old in Western Europe…40 years old in the US but its had the same results as Russia.

    The wealthier a nation is…the easier it is to make bad decisions and hide mistakes.

    The US, (Western, Central and Eastern) Europe, Canada, Russia, Australia, New Zealand…etc are nearly all debtor nations and bankrupt. So the luxury isnt there anymore for a state solution and as the state fails, power will be returned to those who can provide the service.

    The biggest problem this time…is that socialism has forced nearly everything to be certified, licensed, credit checked, background checked, etc etc..tricks unions use to exclude competition…all of which needs to be dismantled.

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  • Sw3579

    Quoting Kyle: “Rallies supporting tax INCREASES to save school funding in Illinois and Ohio each drew far larger crowds…”

    Perhaps, in the interests of honesty, you will stipulate that those screaming for tax INCREASES were, to a man, government union members; bussed-in, specifically, to make a big splash.

    Unsurprisingly, the national media relished covering, yet another, Agitprop masquerade.

  • Mr Mead
    I believe that were speaking the same language. I just wrote a book titled “The Tea Party Papers” espousing the very themes you wrote of in your article. you might wish to check out a article I wrote on my blog “Checks and Balances” the web address is the following
    Keep up the good work. Bill Miller

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  • R. Mark Desjardins

    While Mae West NEVER made a point of supporting any particular political party during her long life, she often quipped, “I know a good party man when I see one!”

  • …I like the old saying where she left her red front patio light on @ night and told a passerbye to “come on up and have a cup of coffee with me”…but actually I was inspired more by Gypsy Rose Lee and way to inspired by Liza Minnelli in Caberet…I am a Caberet girl! Always was and always will be!

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