Monday, September 21, 2009

Federalism and the Surrendering of our Strength

I often wonder what makes American unique. Is it the sheer size of this country? Or is it the immigrant nature of the population? Maybe our geographic isolation is what helped?

Perhaps it is because, as a country, we have a system of government that, unlike anywhere else in the world, continues to experiment on a vast scale. We have 50 states and 50 experiments in government and the ultimate mobility to choose between them.

What should we do to raise revenue during an economic downturn? New York and California think they should raise tax on the rich, while Texas Florida and Alabama think tax incentives for businesses is the way to go. Are unions good for the middle class? Michigan says yes, Tennessee says no. Are guns dangerous? Utah and New York have different opinions. It is physically impossible to build a new road in Connecticut, while Alaska is willing to pave over the whole state if necessary.

People, companies and products can vote with their feet as to which system works best for them. In the first half of the twentieth century people moved to the northern states in droves in search of economics opportunity. Now the reverse is happening, with most Northern and Eastern States experiencing declining populations (hint – it ain’t the weather that’s driving people south).

It’s that flexibility that has allowed us to reinvent ourselves repeatedly over the last 200 years. Keep that in mind as you watch the Federal Government grow and take over sector after sector of our economy ‘streamlining’ laws into a cookie-cutter one size fits all.

We shouldn’t surrender our strength so readily.

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