By Llewellyn H. Rockwell,
on how the central state will crumble is one of the few pleasures
of the present age. How will the social-democratic mixed economy,
inherently unstable, resolve its internal contradictions?
a catastrophic fiscal crisis immobilize Washington? Will a financial
collapse cripple the Fed's money managers? Will a national tax revolt
put the politicians out of business?
can't rule any scenario out, but recent events suggest that, absent
serious top-down reform, a reassertion of the federal principle
will topple tyranny.
Reagan praised federalism to get elected, but centralized virtually
every function of government. George Bush called for decentralization,
and then signed a litany of usurpations. Even Bill Clinton praised
federalism before trying to be Franklin D. Roosevelt the Second.
there is virtually no American problem that can't be solved through
freer markets, more secure private property, and local rights. The
Leviathan state, like a parasite, lives only because nobody has
figured out a way to throw it off.
will is there. Calls for independence have spread from Eastern Europe
to your hometown. The more people pay in taxes, the more they wonder
where it all goes. The more they are forced to obey D.C. mandates,
the more they inquire about their point.
Pete Wilson of California has sued the central government for $370
million, which the feds have forced the state to spend on health
care for illegal aliens. Voters are outraged at this spending, and
increasingly see Washington, D.C., as the enemy.
New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Arizona, and Texas are also suing
the central government for the same reason. If only taxpayers in
these states could sue bureaucrats directly. Imagine INS and HHS
officials, to take just some of the gang, having to sell their lavish
houses to pay the judgments.
central government oppresses cities and states in myriad ways. Since
the 1970s, nearly 200 central laws and regulations have required
subsidiary levels of government to raise and spend money. The total
cost to local taxpayers in the 1990s will exceed $200 billion. New
York City alone will spend $4.6 billion.
Clean Water Act, for example, forces cities to remove at least 30%
of the organic material in waste water before treating it. But what
happens when the water has virtually no such component? Anchorage,
Alaska, asked the Environmental Protection Agency what to do. The
EPA ordered the city to comply.
do so, Anchorage had to ask two fish-processing plants to dump 5,000
pounds of blood and guts into the water, which the city then removed.
The EPA is happy.
Columbus, Ohio, the city spends thousands of dollars to test for
43 pesticides that have never appeared in its water. The overall
cost of complying with such mandates was $685 per Columbus household
last year. The Motor-Votor Act, actually designed to register bums
rather than drivers, costs California $26 million a year.
costs imposed by the central state are incalculable, but here is
some of what state and local governments have had to spend so far,
with the D.C. gun held to their heads: Clean Water Act: $29.3 billion;
Safe Drinking Water Act: $8.6 billion; Americans With Disabilities
Act: $2.1 billion; Asbestos Abatement Regulations: $747 million;
Lead-Based Paint Abatement: $1.6 billion; and Clean Air Act: $3.6
outrage has caused even Congress to listen. Yet the most conservative
proposal seeks only to have the central government pick up the tab.
Not a single bill advocates cutting back the mandates, let alone
the constitutional solution of abolishing them, and allowing the
states to manage their own affairs.
Even worse is the D.C. gun grab. To be on the safe side, Santa Rosa
County in Florida created a militia and made every man, woman, and
child a member (complete with a membership card). That way, everyone
has added protection under the Second Amendment. Even Janet "The
Hitwoman" Reno might now think twice about sending her ranks into
Santa Rosa County.
many Americans, the anti-gun Brady law has been the last straw.
Sheriffs in the South and the West are simply refusing to enforce
it. Not only is it expensive and invasive, it is clearly unconstitutional.
And it runs counter to every principle of freedom and federalism.
Sheriff Jay Printz of Ravalli County, Montana, told a horrified
New York Times reporter: "We like our guns in Montana. It's
not unusual for a person to have 15 guns, or more."
protest was heard in court by one of the few good federal judges,
Charles C. Lovell, who struck down a portion of the Brady law. He
might have based his ruling on the Second Amendment. Instead, he
rediscovered a relic called the Tenth Amendment.
Americans even remember that part of the Constitution. Those who
do often deride and dismiss it, as Robert Bork has. Yet it may be
the most important of all the Bill of Rights. In plain words, the
Founders sought to chain down the central government: "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."
The Framers saw the Tenth Amendment as a core principle of the American
republic. As the final word of the original Constitution, and the
last amendment in the Bill of Rights, it sought to guard against
what Thomas Jefferson decried as "consolidation," and it emphasized
that our republic is a compact among the states.
No. 39, James Madison wrote "Each State, in ratifying the
Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of
all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this
relation, then, the new Constitution, will, if established, be a
federal, and not a national Constitution."
powers of the central government are "few and defined," Madison
wrote in Federalist
No. 45, whereas the powers of the states are "numerous and
indefinite," extending "to all the objects" which "concern the lives,
liberties, and properties of the people."
the consolidationist Alexander Hamilton admitted in Federalist
No. 32 that the States "would clearly retain all the rights
of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not ... exclusively
delegated to the United States."
Founders understood that decentralization is not only a bulwark
against despotism, it is a central aspect of liberty itself.
We have come so far from this ideal that we ought never to refer
to the government as "federal." For the central government regards
the states as mere subdivisions of its empire, the better to rob
the people of their liberty and property.
Tenth Amendment came under attack as early as 1828, when special
interests swindled the people with the protective tariff. Yet even
after the aggressive War Between the States, the crimes of Reconstruction,
and the disputed ratification of the 14th amendment in 1867, the
legal core of state's rights remained intact.
the Progressive Era, however, state's rights took four heavy blows
in just seven years: the income tax, the direct election of Senators,
alcohol prohibition, and forced universal suffrage (the 16th through
19th amendments). The New Deal and the mistaken judicial doctrine
of "incorporation" then paved the way for the omnipotent government
of Hillary's dream.
on the liberties once protected by federalism is the daily business
of the executive branch, the Supreme Court, and the Congress. They
socialize labor markets, impose vicious taxes and business regulations,
crush communities, and heist human land for the Furbish lousewort,
the Delhi sand fly, and other privileged species.
state and local decision is subject to a centralized veto. Federal
judges tell county courthouses they cannot display the 10 commandments.
They declare state holidays illegal. They regulate the manner of
speech in private businesses.
Justice Department tells Wedowee, Alabama, to fire its high-school
principal. It tells Wayne, Indiana, to fund girls' sports. And it
tells Rockland County, New York, to repeal its recycling laws.
why Judge Lovell's ruling is so important: it begins to roll back
consolidated government. And it's why we should expect a massive
push to get the ruling reversed. But as much as the disarmament
lobby may scream, the judge's ruling is, if anything, too moderate,
given that a rotten little city wedged between Maryland and Virginia
rules and ruins a great nation.
history is our guide, the situation cannot last. Already, D.C. denizens
are grabbing their carved mahogany desks and asking, "What's that
rumbling?" May we give them the answer they deserve, and plenty