Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Post-Election Ponderings

This week has provided one of the best arguments I have seen in a long time for states taking power back from the Federal Government. Massachusetts elected a new Senator. I haven't lived there for over 16 years. I've been a student in Utah, a resident of California, and am now happily an Idahoan. I should not really care, therefore, what the outcome of this election was. But I did, I do. Why? Because the Senate as a group has way too much control over the details of my life in my state.

Currently, the future of health care in this nation is the issue at stake. The direction of the health care reform is not only controversial, but of crucial import. The consequences, deemed good or bad, will be significant and far-reaching. In this case, the election of one candidate over another may determine the passage or rejection of the bill.

My purpose, however, is not to debate health care. It is to illustrate the predicament we have collectively put ourselves in by allowing the Federal Government powers which are not given them by our Constitution. When our nation was formed, it was a Union of States. The states were powerful. They largely managed themselves. They came together to create a central government and crafted a document which enumerated its powers. Those powers, those responsibilities, were few and specific. Duties not listed were to be left to the states. The case is easily made that the vast majority of current Federal departments and regulations are unconstitutional.

Washington is a mess. Congress has become a body of largely career politicians with apparent disdain for their constituents. The sitting president shows little understanding of the stewardly nature of his position. "I," "me," "mine," and "my," are words used more frequently by him than by any other president in my memory. He doesn't care for America as it is--he seems to want to be Europe. The president before him certainly wasn't for a small federal government either. The judicial system has come to see themselves as the balance of power rather than a balance. And citizens all over the nation feel some degree of helplessness. We are witnesses to the process rather than being a significant part of it. Citizens have lately been ridiculed for voicing their opinions and concerns.

It doesn't really matter which party is in power. The status quo will not change until states begin reclaiming their rights. The more locally anything is operated, the less waste there tends to be, the more the actual needs of the people are met, and the stronger influence the people have in their government. Why should someone in Massachusetts dictate what type of health care system will be used in Idaho? Why should Texans decide that the education policies which were effective for their children should be the standard for kids in every state? Why should California have more say in what will happen to folks in Rhode Island then the people of that state? One size does not fit all. It never has and it never will.

I'm proud to note that Idaho is a state which is currently working to pass a bill to exempt themselves from national health care regulations, should they pass. More states need to tell the Federal Government to take a hike more often for all sorts of control they try to impose. I believe that is the only way to weaken central power, for they will never vote for policies to that end, regardless of campaign promises.

The result would be a choice. We can choose where to live. There are already differences between states. Our decision to move to Idaho was influenced by many factors, and politics was not an insignificant one. Being business owners, policies effect us rather drastically. But the differences could be greater, and more of us could be happier living in an area more suited to our individual ideals and needs.


  1. Amen! Thanks for transcribing my thoughts more clearly than I ever could have.

  2. My reaction to this election is similar to yours. How did this great country come to such a pass? I think this country's government is so broken, bloated, and bereft that even a leader with vision and drive cannot make the changes necessary to keep this country moving forward. I have great concerns for the future, and am considering fleeing the sinking ship. Yes, Europe is looking better and better.

  3. Hey, I really am all for state's rights. I cannot think of a better way to check power than to divide it 51 ways! And I'd much rather pay high state taxes because the money would stay in the state than high federal taxes.

  4. Great post! I agree completely...

  5. I don't think we agree on too much, Mina, but we certainly do agree that the system is broken. If anything is to change, I think two things need to happen: an end to gerrymandered congressional districts that result in a highly polarized (and gridlocked) congress, and a check on the corrupting influence of special interest money. The first can be addressed by adopting Iowa's system of redistricting, but after today's SC ruling, I don't see what can be done about the second.

    As for state's rights, I'm highly skeptical of conservative-leaning states asserting state's rights and saying they want the federal government to take a hike, and then turning around and accepting much more federal funding than they pay into the system. Idaho receives $1.21 back for every $1.00 it pays in federal taxes, while Connecticut receives $0.69. In order for the state's rights mantra from the beneficiary states to be credible, they would first need to wean themselves from the federal trough. Until then, my taxes will continue to pay for your roads... ;)

  6. Bob, one complaint that Idaho citizens have of the bill exempting ourselves from the national health care regs is that it doesn't end up exempting us from the higher federal taxes that such a system would necessarily require. So it may end up going both ways.

    But really, I essentially agree with you about the money. Again, this wouldn't be as big a problem were there a smaller federal tax rate and higher state taxes that would be used as the state itself saw fit. Then, in the road instance at least, your money would only contribute to upkeep of interstate highways in other states, which IS something that was given to the federal govt, and which technically belong to all of us collectively.