Day by Day

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Are the States Obsolete?

Is it time for us to dissolve the fifty states (ok, some are commonwealths, but for ease, I'll say "states") and perhaps have just the USA (we'll keep the name for heritage purposes) with administrative districts?


Once upon a time, notably the antebellum time (pre-1861), the States were remarkably sovereign. Federalism was fully in force with the central government playing a limited role, notably in affairs that affected all the States, and the States managing the local needs.

We have transitioned to a time where the Federal government plays a much larger role in all roles of government.

  • Education: Once a province of local governments and boards, schools are now managed and ruled according to the Federal government. Often Congress, and the Department of Education, enact laws and policies that all schools which receive federal funds must follow.

  • Crime: Think of how many crimes, once thought to be a "local" event, now involve the Federal government. Whether it's through the FBI (kidnapping), BATF (guns, tobacco, alcohol), IRS (money), or just the Department of Justice (it's amazing what the US Attorney can find to prosecute someone under - remember, Michael Vick's dogfighting case was a federal one), the Federal government has their fingers in local crimes just as much as the locals do.

  • Defense: Before the War Between the States, the States had their standing Armies, and the United States Army wasn't noticeably large. Units were organized and defined by their state of origin. Now, yes, we do have the National Guard for the States, but let's be realistic... they are merely subordinate to the Federal military. Virginia and South Carolina, for example, have fighter units. Against whom within the state's borders will they be attacking? Will the Governor of South Carolina order the 169th to shoot down mischevious North Carolina aircraft? Not likely. The same can be asked of Army National Guard units that don't quite fit the bill for state duty - a big need for a state to have M1A2 Main Battle Tanks?

    So, that time, too, has passed.

  • Disasters: This would be easy, right? Local fire, local government. Local flood, local government. However, when a natural disaster occurs, is not one of the first statements that the locals have asked for Federal Disaster relief? Or, Where's FEMA? Where are the Feds? What's the President going to do?!

  • Taxes: Most of our taxes go to the Federal government. Ironically, a large sum is often then granted back to the States... to do the Federal government's bidding.

  • Infrastructure: Much of our roadway and other infrastructure funding comes from... care to guess?

  • These are just a few examples. But, when you watch the Presidential debates or stump speeches, isn't it interesting that most of it is formed on the "What can you do for ME?" or "What will you do for our local area?" basis of thinking? Not necessarily what will be best for the country as a whole...

    Laws and regulations are vastly becoming more and more local from the Federal government, eliminating the once generous difference between the varied States. Iowa equals California equals Vermont equals Tennessee...

    The time for the States has passed. Let's eliminate the middlemen, and recognize the United States as the primary, and central, government that it is.

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