Federalism, State’s Rights (3 of 3)

I’ve come now to the place I’ve been working toward: we are still in a battle between federal and state’s power. Here’s a fact we have to live with: you will never get all of the people all of the time to agree on anything, at best you will get some of the people some of the time to agree. All you have to do is read history to understand that. The only “for sure’s” in life, it has been stated are death and taxes. The Bible story gives us the account of two men who didn’t die in accordance with the curse: Enoch And Elijah. This doesn’t do away with the “for sure” in life. As for taxes, the moment any form of government came into play taxes in whatever form you want to describe them were collected to help pay for that government’s activities. In the creative thinking of progressives who promoted big government the 16thAmendment assured taxes for everyone would be “for sure”:

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on income, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

Make a penny and someone from the government will come to you with clippers and clip a piece of that penny off for themselves. We gave the federal government the legitimate right to do this. The only rightful argument we have left is on the question of how much taxes and for what purposes, not that it’s collected from us. Even the 13 Colonies accepted that Britain had the right to collect some kinds of taxes, their argument was they couldn’t do this without their participation in what and how much. The representative kind of government in England was, I represent you but you don’t represent me, I’m your voice because you don’t have a voice. So the Colonists pulled out the tongue of England.

Well, the Articles of Confederation created a central government with almost no tongue, then in the Constitution we decided the central government must have at least a small tongue to wag. But like that co-op raisin confederation I worked for, the oversight body the collective farmers agreed to eventually began dictating to the farmers their best practices and how much they could produce all in the name of doing good for all, so the American central government began to reshape their powers in the name of good for all and it did this through regulations, not amendments. One size fits all is so much easier to regulate.

Nowhere is this clash between federal and state powers seen better than in land gobbled up by the federal government. All states with the exception of Texas were first territories. The process worked this way: the federal government had possession of a territory. When the people of a territory decided to petition for statehood and became a state the federal government was to turn everything over to the state, including the land by selling the land to the state, and the federal government was to get out of Dodge.

Funny (not) how the federal government didn’t want to give up land they controlled in the West even when the rules of statehood said they should. Here is a summary of land ownership by the Federal government:

“The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. Four major federal land management agencies administer 610.1 million acres of this land (as of September 30, 2015). They are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture. In addition, the Department of Defense (excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) administers 11.4 million acres in the United States (as of September 30, 2014), consisting of military bases, training ranges, and more. Numerous other agencies administer the remaining federal acreage. 

“The amount and percentage of federally owned land in each state varies widely, ranging from 0.3% of land (in Connecticut and Iowa) to 79.6% of land (in Nevada). However, federal land ownership generally is concentrated in the West. Specifically, 61.3% of Alaska is federally owned, as is 46.4% of the 11 coterminous western states. By contrast, the federal government owns 4.2% of lands in the other states. This western concentration has contributed to a higher degree of controversy over federal land ownership and use in that part of the country.” (From Congressional Research Service,)

The Federal government has been oh so generous to grant back to states the money taken from their citizens in federal taxes for educational help, for roads, etc., but with those grants come lots of strings the states must follow.

The greatest takeover of federal power came in Roosevelt’s New Deal. Woodrow Wilson laid the ground for a powerful progressive federal government, Roosevelt created the programs that would see the powers shift from states to federal. He convinced so many that the depression was caused by greedy capitalists, it’s solution could only come from government and many sat around their radios agreeing with his idealism. From USHistory.org we read this:

“The federal New Deal programs cast the states in supporting, cooperative roles with a clearly dominant national government. However, since both levels participated in the programs, the layers began to blur.

For almost 200 years, the federal-state relationship has shifted more and more toward national supremacy. But some observers today believe that over the past twenty years, the balance of power is beginning to tilt back toward the states. Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush tried to slow down the growth of the national government under the banner of “NEW FEDERALISM.”

I find this last statement overly simplistic and not altogether true. I don’t see any shift in power back to states. What I find, especially in my state of California is a state’s right argument solely presented in hate Trump rhetoric and it’s our attempt as a California government to deny Trump’s policy being followed in California.

But here’s the problem, states have been ignoring their citizens natural rights protected by the Constitution of the United States violating the Supremacy Law. For example, any changes in the Second Amendment, even using the language of helping their citizens, states cannot change our right to own guns. They cannot say you cannot own this gun, or only have this amount of ammunition. Lawyers and politicians like to put words in places they don’t exist as though they did exist so adding to the plain language of the “right to own guns” is language limiting that right. The naivete of the anti-federalists when insisting that we have in the Constitution a Bill of Rights was that future generations would cease looking at both the Constitution and Bill of Rights as having “modern” meaning and ignore them. Speech has also come under attack. Fourth Amendment rights had been corrupted.

And here we are, both the federal government and state governments are dancing with the devil. States want governing power over their citizens, federal government wants power over us all. States lost much of their power when they lost the role of Senators representing states. The road back is going to be long and arduous. You know the old saying, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Well, we cannot eat the over-arching power wrongly assumed by the federal government without first setting on our dinner plate our city/county/state government.

There is a call from both the right and left for a new “Convention of States,” an Article V moment in an effort to curb a runaway federal government and to force it into doing things right. That’s us trying to eat the elephant in one bite. We are not the people of 1776. Political ideology has corrupted politics so much we are hard-pressed to find our way back to reason. Yes, our Founders had their differences, sometime argued greatly and we wonder how could it have ever worked out. But it did, not perfectly, but perfect enough to bring about a great nation “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . . That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln believed in the ideal of this nation, an ideal lost to our postmodern world where we’ve changed those words “people” to say “political party.” When we get back to “people” then we can successfully eat the elephant and bring back the original idea of federalism.