“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned;

if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity;

but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand."

Ezekiel 33:6

"A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring."

Proverbs 25:26

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

How Would Federalism Work?

by Kevin Price

“Restoring the Constitution” is a phrase that is catching on with people. So is “federalism” as people lament a national government that has become out of control and is spiraling our nation into a downfall. But many also wonder what, exactly, do these concepts mean?

Many have dropped the term “conservative” altogether, because there is really very little left to “conserve” these days. Taxes, regulation, and spending are out of control and the other institutions that have supported our liberties are either being abused or are in decline. The US is on the fast track towards socialism. We need a different paradigm to put our nation back on track. That is where the term “restoration” comes to mind. The United States has lost sight of the things that have made it the most free and prosperous country in the history of the world.
To “restore the Constitution,” we would have to review at the things the government can and cannot do according to our founding document. Article I, Section 8 lists the seventeen powers specifically enumerated to the federal government. All of these things are important and the government’s function in these areas was suppose to be strong, in order to protect the liberties of every American. Some of the things allowed include standard weights and measures, coining money, post offices and post roads, the protection of intellectual property, and a national defense. Beyond these and a few other very specific items, there was not much for which the federal government was responsible.
So how did new medicines get regulated? How would certain industries be licensed? What about the many other things done today by the federal government, who would do them? This is where we get to the idea of “federalism.” You see how it was designed to work clearly in the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution: “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.” That word, reserved, speaks of exclusivity. This was not a preferential view of public policy (“it would be best if the states and people took care of these things”), but a mandate (if it is not listed in the US Constitution, it is for the states and the people).
The vast majority of regulations that exist throughout state governments came into place from states watching the works of one another. With the many states, our country had a vibrant laboratory with new ideas being brought to the surface and each state emulated those laws that worked best. This system worked very well. As the rest of Western civilization largely limped through the 19th Century with stagnant economies and governments in excess, the US was a vibrant powerhouse that focused on industry and innovation. Government did not get in the way, but largely cleared the way for progress.
The ideas behind this system are both simple and profound. The state governments had virtually unlimited powers, but limited amounts of money. It could not “print money” to fund its programs, because only the federal government had the power to do such. On the other hand, the federal government only had 17 powers and it had no reason to use inflation as a vehicle to fund its programs. This contributed to the value of the US dollar remaining constant from the era of the founding until the early part of the 20th century (during the New Deal we began to devalue our currency to pay for “extra Constitutional” or unconstitutional government programs).
Money was not the only restraint put on the states, but also good old fashion competition. If any one state became too excessive in its regulations, taxation, generosity in social spending, or in any other way, people could (and would) vote with their feet to go to places with more fiscally responsible environments. During the early 19th century, the Whig Party’s “internal improvements” program (very similar to earmarks today) had a devastating effect of state budgets around the country and led to massive migrations nationwide because of the high taxes that followed. In no time every state, except for Massachusetts, had prohibitions against such programs placed in their constitutions. Since people could leave states because of policies that were economically harmful, all states tended to demonstrate much more restraint in their spending and regulations, which led to greater prosperity for the nation as a whole.
Federalism works. It is in decline today only because of the appetite of the federal government. The national failures seen throughout the federal government today — inflationary monetary policies, unemployment out of control, and a debt growing exponentially — are all very eloquent arguments for restoring both the Constitution and federalism.

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." -James Madison

In The Federalist No. 51, arguably the most important one of all, James Madison wrote in defense of a proposed national constitution that would establish a structure of “checks and balances between the different departments” of the government and, as a result, constrain the government’s oppression of the public. In making his argument, Madison penned the following paragraph, which comes close to being a short course in political science:
    [T]he great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defence must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. ([1788] n.d., 337)
The passage that refers to the angels is a rhetorical masterpiece, so memorable that it has become almost a cliché. In Madison’s argument, however, it does more than emphasize that human nature is something less than angelic. It also serves as a springboard that propels Madison directly into a consideration of “framing a government which is to be administered by men over men,” which is “but the greatest of all reflections on human nature.” In short, it moves Madison directly to a consideration of government as we have known it for the past several thousand years—a monopoly operating ultimately by threat or actual use of violence, making rules for and extracting tribute from the residents of the territory it controls. Henceforth, for clarity, I refer to this all-too-familiar type of organization as “the state.”




Image and video hosting by TinyPic     Image and video hosting by TinyPic     Image and video hosting by TinyPic     Image and video hosting by TinyPic     Image and video hosting by TinyPic