Dedicated to the
July 24, 2000
An examination of the structure of most state governments reveals few differences from their masters at Federal, lending credibility to the attitudes of some people that we ought to do away with state government altogether. Things were not always this way. State government bureaucracies were developed to meet the needs of the people, and to function as a national government (and still may, if necessary,) while the Federal was designed to be a government of the state governments, not of the people directly. Indeed, all Federal laws passed that deal with crimes or conditions of individuals, are constitutionally invalid; that would include laws against murder, drugs, gambling, any proposed 'hate-crime' legislation in the works, as well as all social programs, student loans, etc.
If one reads the US Constitution [available at The American Colonist's Library, among many other documents,] and it is a tough read if one is not empassioned by this sort of thing, one will find scant mention of the relationship between the Federal government and its citizens. Most references to 'people' or 'persons' in the Constitution deal with the rules of election to, and holding of, office; crimes of treason; and servitude. Provision is also made for extradition, which has more to do with regulating cooperation between States of the Union. Nowhere in the Constitution is the Federal government charged with providing public housing, welfare payments, medical care, or retirement funds. But we have all grown up in a nation where these functions, and more, have been the status quo of Federal operations.
Most of us can name our Congressional Representative in Washington, DC, but have a hard time identifying our State Rep. Indeed, it should be the other way around. The primary reason government of 'the people' has shifted to Washington is that it is much easier for politicians to extort taxes at the Federal level. The nation's population is so widely dispersed that to effectively protest is a logistical nightmare for activists (the lone exception being the so-called "Million-mom March," which had large helpings of assistance from contacts at the highest levels of power.) Any protest 'in the streets' of DC will be populated primarily by locals: those within a few hours driving distance. This very aspect discredits and limits any effort to oppose the Fed's encroachment on our freedoms. Besides, the Beltway area is top-heavy with liberals, so the available bodies are limited further still. Politics in Washington, to most people, occur 'out there,' when the issues that effect us the most should be decided 'right here.' The Founding Fathers knew this and wrote the Constitution assuming people were smart enough to figure out they had state governments to decide issues directly impacting themselves. Were it not amply clear enough, the tenth amendment was thrown in to remind us.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
No one seems to understand this phrase anymore.
Perhaps it may be said that the people have ceded certain powers to the Federal government by default, in other words, "We passed these bills and you didn't complain en masse, so nyaa-nyaa!" Is this the preferred state of government? By all the documents extant, State legislatures gave up not one iota of their sovereignty when the Constitution was ratified, and the members thereof were genuinely concerned they shouldn't have to. However, the present state of affairs (no pun intended) features the Governors and Legislators of all 50 states genuflecting before the sacred calf of 'Federal funding,' i.e. their citizens' tax dollars held hostage for return to the States in block grants and special funds. The Constitution, as written, allowed no direct tax of the people, but this provision was eradicated in 1913 by the sixteenth amendment, the ratification of which is in question of late. (It is alleged Secretary of State Philander Knox falsified ratification of the amendment.) Truly, we as a people are free to enact whatever amendments to the Constitution we desire, however to directly violate the letter of the original should be a case of great introspection. Say what one may about the Founding Fathers, but they did have a good reason for every passage in the Constitution.
The flagrant irresponsibility with which our so-called representatives handle our hard-earned money should be enough to impress upon everyone that the income tax, prohibited by the Founders, is not a good idea. Should we as a people wish to be taxed for the mutual benefit of each citizen of our respective states, then let us tax ourselves locally, and explain to our neighbour why we should be allowed to pick their pocket, not let unknown legislators, for some more than 5000 miles away, decide for us anonymously how our taxes should be spent. Accountability is the key to responsive and effective government, and is what is almost entirely lacking in the Federal structure. The Beltway is an impenetrable barrier to reason and sense, and an insult to the principles this nation was founded upon.
The government that serves the people best is the one down the street, not across the country. Beyond that, the State Capitals are usually no more than a few hours drive from their citizens...a manageable trek for an important issue. Likely 90% of the nation can't reach Washington DC in any decent length of time, leaving the remaining 10%...some of the most liberal in the nation, to be our 'representatives in the street.' Couple that with the fact that people who can abandon their lives to 'camp on the mall' for a rally are not likely to be in a position of any consequence, but are readily mobilized to protest any decrease in the Federal assistance they probably subsist on. The isolated and unaccountable Federal government has become a government of the most basement-level human beings in the nation, making the rest of us feel hard-hearted for not wanting to fund their bad habits and irresponsibility.
If the Constitution were 'rediscovered' and enacted tomorrow, we'd see Social Security checks cut off, patients thrown out of hospitals, Indians having to actually get jobs, and college students desperately scrambling to find a bank loan locally. Yes, yes...sounds wonderful, but the reality is if we followed the Constitution all along we'd not have the situation we do today. The last couple of generations would have grown up realizing that they had to save for retirement and that doctor bills had to be paid in full. Their parents would have saved for college and the Indian reservations would be privately-owned land in productive use. Each State would have its own flavour of government, as they did in the beginning...the people being highly influential in the formation of policy. No doubt the schools in Colorado would be quite different from the schools in Maine, not the uniform Federal indoctrination centres they are today. Like-minded people would congregate in the States and localities that suited them and evolve a body of laws that reflected their preferences. In the old days, men had loyalty to their States, and the Federal government was merely a front organization to resolve and regulate differences and trade between them, and to represent the Union to the world.
The original Congress met in the first part of December, and was expected to finish with business by Christmas. They set the session in that time frame so as not to interfere with agriculture and to inspire the legislators to expeditiousness. If a Congress with no computers, no loudspeakers, no electronic vote tallying, and no fast-food could be expected to wrap up their business in three or four weeks, we should expect their modern counterparts to perform quicker, for only more evil takes place when those in power are allowed more time.
Many people think that programs like Social Security, Medicaid, etc., are truly good things. Maybe that's true, and if they are, then they should be enacted in the proper venue...the Statehouse. Liberals will oppose that concept based on the belief that we can 'accomplish more together than apart,' which really means that they know it would not fly in the smaller arena. There's a bit of security in the anonymity of living in California and voting to tax people in Connecticut (not to mention that 50% of wage earners pay no Federal income tax at all, making them a bought-and-paid-for vote for legislators who spend other people's money. Taxation without representation, anyone?)
To clarify: The States only gave up the items of sovereignty outlined in the Constitution, the balance being theirs to act upon. The Federal government is prohibited from doing anything not spelled out in the Constitution. A cursory glance at the Federalist Papers is enough to make anyone realize that the current Government in Washington DC is unconstitutional and out of control. Even Alexander Hamilton, the original big-government-guy, knew the remedy for our situation...to take up arms in defence the people's rights and the sovereignty of our States...not to attack, but to stand in stern opposition to tyranny. Of course, this requires Governors that actually govern their State instead of jumping every time Uncle Sam shouts an order.
Where are the Statesmen?
By: Lewis Goldberg