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Power to the States Rationalization

March 1, 2015

Years ago, the government decided there were too many wolves in Yosemite Park. They scared people, killed cute little deer and left the remains on people trails. Unsettling for visitors and small children. So they wiped the critters out. Some were relocated north; most were shot down like rabid dogs.

Everybody (except for the wolves) were happy, right? Wrong. Deer, and particularly bucks, multiplied like rabbits. They trampled trees, threatened park visitors and ate, ate and ate. Vermin bloomed and small animals got sick and died in droves. The ecosystem was in horrid disarray.  Seems those wolves had a purpose after all. They reintroduced wolves into the park and balance was restored.

Yosemite is a complex system. Kick out a leg and the whole thing falls to ruins.

The government, economy and society are vastly more complex systems. Broad sweeping change does more harm than good. Federal government is about broad sweeping change. It completely overlooks the fact that every state, region and city is unique with differing needs. Each strata within each of those entities are distinct from the others.

Mitt Romney took a lot of grief for his medical program for Massachusetts (Romneycare?) being the blueprint for Obamacare. It worked in Mass, but doesn’t for the country. Why? Because Massachusetts is unique.

There are few Federal programs that work well. One size never fits all, accountability is too far away, systemic abuse is overlooked or written off. It may work in some few places, but rarely everywhere.

What the Federal government does sort-of well is infrastructure. And war, we’re pretty good with that (though we lack the will to use our military well). Social programs, economic programs should be left to the states.

Make no mistake, the Civil War was about slavery, but state’s rights was also a large plank in the war platform that got lost in bloodshed. The Gettysburg Address ushered in Federalism, but full Federal programming didn’t kick in for a while. Consider the successes. Roosevelt’s New Deal was a sweeping Federal program that coupled economic aid with infrastructure, executed at the state level. It became a model for bad programs later, but it worked well in the unique circumstances of the depression.  Eisenhower stuck to infrastructure by building the highway system connecting America. Johnson’s Great Society wasn’t so great.

Since then, Republican and Democrat presidents have abused the complex system of America, growing Federalism to titanic proportions. Obamacare is a logical extension of what’s gone before; such overreach isn’t restricted to him or to Democrats; Republicans have been making the same mistakes. (Proponents say that at least under Obamacare, the poor are insured… I say the deductibles are so ridiculous that the poor are shadow-insured; they have the piece of paper (not really), but it does them no good (we’re not poor, but my wife’s surgery nearly wiped us out; what are the truly poor supposed to do?). I do give President Obama credit for trying something, which is more than anyone else has done; his solution, though, is a failure, helping people in name only, not in reality).

Let the Federal government do what they do least-worst: infrastructure and military. Leave everything else to the states. I would like to see the Feds host political conferences, where successful governors share their solutions with other governors, and educational conferences for successful state DoEs to share their innovations. That’s what I think the Federal Department of Education should do; liaise between states and publicize things that work.

States are also complex systems, but the governor, senator, representative coverage is closer and hopefully more in tune with their constituents. Introduce small, gradual change at state levels and preserved the complex systems that surround us. Please.

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