Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ruminations on Stuff

With all the hoo-hah recently over the 10th Amendment, states rights, conservatism and libertarianism, I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring.

We'll start with the 10th Amendment and states rights. I think the federal government has grossly overstepped its bounds and has been doing so in ever-increasing steps since the early 1900's. This overstepping has been accelerating at an alarming pace since 2001. Most citizens, and states for that matter, operate on the whim of the federal government. How you may ask? Look at your pay stub and look at your tax rate. Savor it, because after 2010, it goes back to the rate in 1999 under Clinton. Also take a look at what has transpired over the last 4 months. Never before has government gone after private citizens and private business with the zeal we've seen recently. One investment firm was told point blank that if they didn't play ball with the new administration, they would bring the full power of government to bear on them. Think that can't happen? Try this one. Congress now believes it has the power to break contracts. Look at what happened to AIG. If they can go after an insignificant amount of people over bonuses that were specifically protected by law, then what's to say they can't go after you?

A recent study showed that the primary source of revenue to state coffers wasn't the citizens of those states, but in fact, the federal government. How upside down is that? With all those federal dollars comes strings. Some folks see these strings as beneficial. I mean if a public university receives federal funding, they have to abide by the strings that federal money comes with, like diversity issues like Title IX. But then there are the extortion schemes. Mandatory seat belt, DUI, and minimum drinking age laws come to mind. I mean, who can't be a fan of these laws, right? One mandates safety in your car, another is meant to keep kids from getting drunk and the other is meant to keep drunks off the road. Sounds all nice and rosy, doesn't it? What is lost in all this mess is the extortion behind the scenes. States that failed to pass these mandatory laws in a timely manner were threatened with having their federal highway funds withheld. That sound good to you?

Next, libertarianism vs conservatism. While I do hold some libertarian views, such as drugs, I believe there is a need to some form of limited government. Now there are certain federal agencies that are an abomination that deserve to be abolished immediately if not sooner, but there are also federal agencies that make life much better. Case in point are the Occupational and Mine Safety and Health Administrations. OSHA and MSHA, respectively. These two organizations under the Department of Labor are geared to make sure our workplaces, whether it be an office, a machine shop, or a mine are safe places to work.

Where I diverge from the libertarian line is that while I agree that less government is always better, there are instances where government has to be there. I mentioned OSHA and MSHA, but also, there's also the FAA, and certain entities under the Departments of Transportation and Agriculture that come to mind.

There is an argument to be made for all of these. Hopefully, sooner rather than later that dialogue can take place. This country has gotten so far from it's founding roots it has lost its mooring. If, by some quirk of science time travel were to become possible, I believe our ancestors would look at what we've become today and shake their heads in disgust and shame. Disgust for what we as a collective people have allowed ourselves to lured into, and shame for allowing the sacrifices they made, however big and however small, to be in vain.

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