Monday, February 24, 2014

Get Off! The Purpose of the Federal Government

On a few occasions, I have discussed that redistribution of wealth is not a proper use of federal funds because it does not fit within the parameters of the federal government's purpose. This raises the question, what is the purpose of the federal government?

To answer this question, let's first remember the words of Ronald Reagan in his Inaugural Address in 1981,
"All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government."

Indeed, the states do not exist for the whims of the federal government; the federal government exists for the whims of the states.

This fact is seen in the Constitution first and foremost by the amount of powers enumerated to the states. The tenth amendment guarantees that all power not enumerated within the Constitution are reserved for the states or we the people.

Outside of taxes and interstate commerce, the Constitutional powers given to the federal government are entirely limited to areas of national defense. The federal government exists because a unified force of the thirteen states was stronger in foreign policy than thirteen individual states. The federal government is more like a league between thirteen (now 50) individual nations, rather than a country itself.

Yes, I really am implying that the federal government should step entirely out of domestic policy, except the laws against treason and the like necessary to protect national security. The fact is, state and county governments are better suited to address the issues within a small state than is the federal government.

The federal government is very disconnected from the US citizen and how we live. Living in D.C., they don't face the same struggles that each state economy individually struggles with, or each local economy for that matter. They are all different, and the more decentralized the government, the better suited it is to tackle the unique challenges each community brings.

This is not just true not the economy, but also of education, health care, and every other part of our lives. Of course, the people who truly understand these things are we citizens ourselves; thus, we must be just as cautious of a authoritarian state or local government as one on a federal level. But we have greater opportunity to take powers away from the state government than we do the federal government as grassroots campaigns are easier to run in one small community, rather than a conglomeration of several communities.

If we are to restore this separation of powers in the United States, we will need to put in a significant amount of effort. Some may question whether it's even worth it. After all, this seems radically conservative. Some may even call it anarchist (it's not).

Call it what you may, it is what the majority of the founders intended and for good reason. For instance, James Madison, one of those sneaky Federalists wanting a STRONGER federal government, wrote in Federalist 45,
"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

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