Where did it go?

By: Len Semas


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there were 4 cabinet level offices: War, Treasury, State and Attorney General. Today, there are 15.

 It is not simply the complexity of the federal level of government which has given rise to this expansion, but a vastly expanded power and domain at the expense of state and local governments and of the citizens themselves. Federalism is in crisis.

At our country’s founding, the state was the center of government. With the adoption of the Constitution, the “Confederacy” -a confederation of States - yielded to a power sharing arrangement in which the sovereign states created a new federal level for express and limited purposes. Two centuries later, the child has become the parent; the student has become the teacher; the servant has become the master.

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There was sufficient reason for the states to agree to the creation of a consolidated federal government, the most important being the protection of the fledgling states against outside forces — there was safety in numbers, and in a unified front. There were justifiable concerns, however, and for that reason, the powers of the new federal government were expressly defined and limited by the 10th Amendment:

                    “The powers not delegated to the United States

                     by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the

                    States , are reserved for the States respectively, or

                     to the people.”

The express powers were largely spelled out in Article 1, Section 8 of the new Constitution and dealt with issues of finance and commerce, national stability and uniformity, national defense, and establish a national seat of government. Virtually all other power was to remain with the states and the citizens. This was the very essence of federalism.

There are many factors that favor the residence of power at the state, local and individual levels: visibility and distance, checks and balances, accountability, creativity and innovation, and protection against abuses.

Of course, the fundamental nature of freedom and liberty as God given rights constitutes the basis for all other government grants of authority. Both freedom and responsibility should remain to the greatest extent possible with the individual citizens and their families. The individual and family have, in fact, become the weakest elements in the modem hierarchy of power.

The separation of power between the states and the federal government was an important part of the checks and balances sought by our founding fathers; similar to the sharing of power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Increasingly, this separation has become a myth, if not a joke.

There is virtually no clement of life into which the modem federal government does not reach: education, school lunch programs, speed limits, drinking and driving and the list goes on and on!

The usual route for federal influence starts with money.

Congress collects more and more money from the citizens, creates new agencies and involvements and then makes the states dependent on the continued flow of a limited return of money in exchange for compliance with the federal mandates. It is no less than extortion by the federal government and prostitution by the weak willed states. The new game is to provide   ‘block grants” to the states a whereby the states can be brought into submission as a general rule, a rather than in response to specific federal compliances. No state governor or legislature has the guts to challenge this intrusion into their constitutional domain so it continues on.

The judiciary has been a willing accomplice in the power grab by the federal government, citing the Commerce Clause, “equal protection,” and other liberal interpretations or constructions of the Constitution to assure the ability of the federal government to extend its reach into virtually every aspect of American life. Since 1937, not a single Act of Congress has been voided by the Supreme Court as an excess of the Commerce Clause.

With the ever-increasing concentration of power in Washington .D.C., the distance from the people increases both geographically and philosophically. The “Beltway” becomes a foreign place to the interests of Americans, and in fact, evolves into its own culture and system of special treatment for those who populate it elected and appointed alike. There can be neither familiarity with the real needs of citizens nor accountability to them with such a gulf between the governing and the governed.

Many of our primary institutions are hopelessly broken. The health care and education systems used to function reasonably well. Fitly years of increasing federal government involvement parallels the dismal condition into which both ; have sunk. Is there a connection? Clearly there is, as Jefferson knew there would be. Tinkering by a federal leviathan into the daily affairs of society is an affront to creative solutions and an invitation to bloated bureaucracy.

Yet modem politicians want more. Federal politicians want more power, and state and local ones want the easy life of more federal money. They actually seem relieved of the duty to justify raising taxes, leaving the job to the feds and simply getting their fees through the back door. They are not only incompetent but they are gutless.

The “federal” solution is invariably the same---- more money, more regulation, more bureaucracy, ----fewer rights or options. There is no innovation; there is no creativity. Innovation takes place when there are many models simultaneously working and the best can be compared and emulated, while the worst are rejected. Such an environment works when solutions are decentralized to states and local governments, not when they are held captive in an unimaginative federal black hole. In such a place, the best is never sought and the worst finds penrianence as the special “offspring” of one bureaucrat or another . Such is the basis for continuation of the ridiculous “No Child Left Behind” sham.

When control is centralized rather than distributed, the power for indoctrination and abuse becomes absolute. In the education system, such potential for abuse has filtered down finally to the lowest grades. Now there are calls for more governmental involvement in kindergarten and even preschool . The power to fund is, of course, the entry point the power to control and indoctrinate derives from surrender of that duty. Social engineering and values indoctrination are now well established from kindergarten to college . It’s little wonder that recent generations look to government more and more and cherish their traditional duties and rights less and less. The brainwashing will continue as long as control remains at the federal level!

These are but a few examples of the perverse and pervasive influence wielded by Washington today. One of the worst fears of the Founders---- a national, rather than a federal government -----has become a reality. Returning to the original intentions will not come easy . Every time a senator or congressmen proudly boasts of the federal money he brought back home, he will be contributing to the problem. Every time a governor acquiesces to or even requests a new federal program, he will exacerbate the problem . Each call for the federal government to step in and “do something” will result in less freedom and choice for the states and for the citizens.

This is not a path to democracy; it is a devil’s bargain on the road to tyranny. An all-powerful federal government is no less capable of despotism than the most evil of kings . It is shameful when such power has not only been accommodated, but actually enabled by those subject to it. Wake up people. The sands of time are fleeting.


Sierra SAGE

February 2007 Front Page

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