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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6345/objectivists-and-federalism/

Objectivists and Federalism

March 6, 2007 by

I’ve noted before how many libertarians and Objectivists simply seem unable to appreciate the virtues of our federalist system; and that this is rejected implicitly when libertarians use “the government” to refer to both state and federal government (see Libertarian Centralists; The problem with “government”: The rejection of federalism by libertarian centralists; Objectivists on Kelo).

A curious letter to the editor in the March 2007 issue of The New Individualist (an Objectivist magazine that is interesting, punchy, well-written, and continues to improve and expand) helps to illustrate this. In “Back to Basics,” Darrick Dean writes: “The [Republican] party needs to embrace the fact that the Constitution’s primary purpose is the restrain the federal government.” So far, so good. Then, “Power needs to be returned ot the States where it belongs. Instead of wasting time with flag and marriage amendments, it’s time to rein in the federal government.” Wow, I’m thinking–is this really an Objectivist writing this? Maybe they are starting to appreciate federalism after all.

But then Dean proposes:

The Constitution should be amended to eliminate private property seizures by any government entity with the intent to give it to anohter private company … or person. … The Constitution should be amended to block any judge from overturning legislation enacted by a majority vote of the people in any state. … The Constitution should be amended to abolish the IRS … [and] also abolish property taxes as a legal means for taxation in this country. The government should have no claim on your private property. Nor should it be able to tax your home ad infinitum. [italics added]

Did one person write the first part, and another the second? Again: the use of “the government” to cover both state and federal governments in the scope of prohibitions of the (federal) Constitution, despite the initial recognition that the Constitution’s main purpose is to restrain the feds and that we need to return power to the States.

{ 25 comments }

Angelo March 6, 2007 at 11:22 pm

Seems like it’s just the expedient use of the term government to avoid having to say both state and federal government. After all, invasions of property rights by either is criminal. If using the Constitution was helpful in reducing the state from doing these things (I believe it isn’t for the reasons people such as Lysander Spooner and Murray Rothbard have noted), then the author of the article is consistent to call for the Constitution to ban government power in certain areas.

State or federal power is still criminal and still power. It’s almost as if Kinsella is endorsing the Constitution here (which I realize he isn’t). I would point out that the Constitution is a criminal document and invalid in the first place.

Rothbard’s criticisms of Calhoun’s advocacy for state as opposed to federal power are relevant here, I think. Whether on a smaller scale, which tends to be better than larger scale, or not, state power is still evil. Ceding that states are somehow justified in having violent powers over the federal government is like saying getting hit in the head with a hammer two times is better than three.

States’ rights should be opposed as well, though, for expediency’s sake, advocated as a measure better than federal power, certainly. But Kinsella here and in previous posts seems to unwittingly imply that more localized power ought to be a goal and the Constitution worth respecting.

Sasha Radeta March 7, 2007 at 1:18 am

The virtue of real federalism is that one state can practice communism (and its failure :), while another state can be completely libertarian. If a minority of the communist state doesn’t like such system, they can freely move to the libertarian state – or vice versa – without any violence between them (each state can try to prove its superiority in practice). Federal government is restrained by the Constitution from intervening in those state matters.

This may sound like a blasphemy to centralists… But that’s how the Founders created this federal nation.

Anyway, if we had such free competition of political systems between states, I am certain that the success of liberty would prevail in most of the country (something like the impact of Hong Kong’s success)… Unfortunately, in a unitary, centralist nation, there is a need for compromise and wide coalitions, which results in two mainstream parties that are almost equally anti-libertarian.

P.M.Lawrence March 7, 2007 at 5:59 am

In the Westminster System, when we say “the government” it seems to mean roughly what US English means by “the administration”; US English seems to include all governmental functions under the heading “government”. In Australia, these are the Public Service, but in the UK more often the Civil Service (i.e. leaving out armed forces). The UK is nearly unitary in legal theory, but has regional stuff handled within that (see “Midlothian Question”), but most other Westminster Systems of any size have a federal approach; you have to get specific if you want to distinguish which level “government” means.

Oh, and “New…” anything often means “with a leftish/centralising/planning/dirigeiste tinge”, like the New Statesman magazine. How that would square with “New Individualist” I don’t know, but clearly the USA has its own analogue of this in the oxymoronic neocons.

Jim Ostrowski March 7, 2007 at 7:23 am

There are two main virtues of true federalism.

You can vote with your feet without moving to Australia.

And it forces governments to compete with each by not stealing so much money from their subjects that they move to a state with a kindlier protection racket.

Stephan Kinsella March 7, 2007 at 7:36 am

Angelo:

Seems like it’s just the expedient use of the term government to avoid having to say both state and federal government.

Uh, yes–this is the problem. Mr. Dean first says the Constitution limits the federal government, and that we need to return power to the states. Then he turns around and says the Constitution should limit “the government” (meaning state and federal). It is almost schizophrenic.

If using the Constitution was helpful in reducing the state from doing these things (I believe it isn’t for the reasons people such as Lysander Spooner and Murray Rothbard have noted), then the author of the article is consistent to call for the Constitution to ban government power in certain areas.

How can it be consistent to say the Constitution is meant to limit federal power and that State rights should be returned, but that it should also limit federal and State power? These are incompatible views.

State or federal power is still criminal and still power. It’s almost as if Kinsella is endorsing the Constitution here (which I realize he isn’t). I would point out that the Constitution is a criminal document and invalid in the first place.

Of course.

States’ rights should be opposed as well, though, for expediency’s sake, advocated as a measure better than federal power, certainly. But Kinsella here and in previous posts seems to unwittingly imply that more localized power ought to be a goal and the Constitution worth respecting.

The Constitution primarily limits what the feds can do. The feds and its supporters claim that its legitimacy depends on its abiding by the Constitution. AS I would rather have a limited than unlimited central state, I think it is preferable from a libertarian point of view that a dangerous central state abide by limits on its own power that it gives lip service to. Are you saying the libertarian should prefer an unlimited to a limited state?

Lawrence:

In the Westminster System, when we say “the government” it seems to mean roughly what US English means by “the administration”; US English seems to include all governmental functions under the heading “government”.

I realize this but this is not relevant in our context. In the context at hand the speakers are using “government” as a synonym for “state”. The question is whether the federal Constitution limits the federal government (state) only, or “the government” (federal and state goverment–states–together).

T.G.G.P March 7, 2007 at 8:22 am

The federal Constitution should only restrict the federal government (outside of preventing states from conducting foreign policy), or (preferably) replaced with the Articles of Confederation. To restrain states we have STATE CONSTITUTIONS. It is amazing how many people forget about them.

I used to be hostile toward courts overturning democratically made decisions, but Bryan Caplan has convinced me that the voters are not to be trusted either. At the same time, things like the federal courts that took charge of a city’s tax policies and constructed million dollar taj mahals that failed miserably in their goals are unnacceptable. The twisting of the 14th amendment from giving Congress the power to pass enforcement acts to giving federal courts the power to over-rule state law played a major part there.

Part of a way out is outlined in “The Irrepressible Myth of Marbury“. Each person who takes an oath to uphold the Constitution reserves the right to refuse to act in defiance of it (this is related to the “doctrine of nullification”). In Marbury vs Madison the Courts merely refused to hear a case that Marshall ruled was not in its jurisdiction. Giving the Court the sole power of Constitutional interpretation is a whole ‘nother thing not supported by the Constitution.

Angelo March 7, 2007 at 8:33 am

How can it be consistent to say the Constitution is meant to limit federal power and that State rights should be returned, but that it should also limit federal and State power? These are incompatible views.

It isn’t. That’s what’s virtuous about this, in a way. The author was calling for the Constitution to be used to limit both state and federal power. The inconsistency is virtuous and I think the author was aware of it.

Fully consistency would mean restoring state power. I’m for reducing federal power, but not for doing as the Constitution says and expanding state power consequently.

Mark Brabson March 7, 2007 at 8:57 am

I support an Article of Confederation type structure, setting up a loose confederacy. As for restraining state power. If that is going to happen, it must be done state by state, and it must be done from within the state, not forced by an overlording master from above.

Nick Bradley March 7, 2007 at 9:09 am

Stephen, Sasha, et al:

Far more liberty can blossom under highly decentralized systems. In a letter to Samual Kerchavel in 1816, Thomas Jefferson proposed what is now known as Ward Republicanism:

“”Divide the counties into wards of such size as that every citizen can attend, when called on, and act in person. Ascribe to them the government of their wards in all things relating to themselves exclusively. A justice, chosen by themselves, in each, a constable, a military company, a patrol, a school, the care of their own poor, their own portion of the public roads, the choice of one or more jurors to serve in some court, and the delivery, within their own wards, of their own votes for all elective officers of higher sphere, will relieve the county administration of nearly all its business, will have it better done, and by making every citizen an acting member of the government, and in the offices nearest and most interesting to him, will attach him by his strongest feelings to the independence of his country, and its republican constitution…We should thus marshal our government into, 1, the general federal republic, for all concerns foreign and federal; 2, that of the State, for what relates to our own citizens exclusively; 3, the county republics, for the duties and concerns of the county; and 4, the ward republics, for the small, and yet numerous and interesting concerns of the neighborhood; and in government, as well as in every other business of life, it is by division and subdivision of duties alone, that all matters, great and small, can be managed to perfection.”

An added benefit of such a system is that it restricts theft of taxation to one’s neighbor. In a neighborhood-level government, Bob down the street is going to know if Bill voted to take his property taxes.

Government on a moderate-to-large scale can only exist if one can redistribute wealth between strangers.

Under Jefferson’s system, even “Decentralized Direct Democracy” can work. By “making every citizen an acting member of the government”, as Jefferson proposed, exploitation will be minimized as all citizens are in a state of anarchy with each other, i.e. there are no official legislators.

I wrote an article for my blog, Confessions of a Right-Wing Libertarian, on the subject entitled A Confederation of Confederacies?”.

Nick Bradley March 7, 2007 at 9:11 am
Matt March 7, 2007 at 11:12 am

Is there such thing as a totalitarian libertarian? That’s the only conclusion I can draw if someone believes the Federal government should expand it’s power to restrict the power of state governments.
Why shouldn’t Vermont or Massachusetts be free to build a socialist mecca? It seems the person wants to take a paternalistic approach to government, but why should the same approach not be taken with drugs? (Or maybe he is for the drug war.) If you are living in Nevada watching Massachusetts go down the tubes, how is it different than watching a heroin addict waste away?

Michael A. Clem March 7, 2007 at 1:44 pm

“Ward Republicanism”, eh? I was thinking of presenting something similar in my town (Tulsa: pop. about 380,000), with the idea of breaking it up into subdivisions of about 10,000 people and devolving as much stuff as possible away from the city government.

Nick Bradley March 7, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Michael A. Clem,

“Ward Republicanism” would be profoundly attractive to most americans, with its call for local direct democracy.

What I failed to mention on my blog is that there would be no official legislators in such a system. There would be peer-appointed citizens that would pledge votes for other citizens, but that’s it. The “Natural Elite” and the msot trusted members of the community would emerge to vote in others’ stead a council meetings.

In all actuality, you can’t really rob Peter to pay Paul if all three of you live on the same block. Coercive wealth redistribution can only occur between strangers.

http://crwl.blogspot.com

Mark Brabson March 7, 2007 at 4:16 pm

The “Confederation of Confederacies” and “Ward Republicanism” ideas are both interesting. My Articles structure for the central government makes both ideas possible, neither being possible under the present Constitution.

Several things are essential under a Confederation, to ensure the central government does not take on a life of its own, as did the Federal Government under the Constitution:

1. Elimination of a central executive.

2. Separation of the central government from any involvement in the monetary or banking systems and an explicit ban on emission of bills of credit. Furthermore, a requirement that the government exclusively do business in hard money.

3. Equal suffrage among the member states, with that suffrage being exercised by delegates selected by the state legislature, not the people.

4. A Judiciary selected directly by the legislatures, so you don’t have an instrument of the central government, deciding what the central government’s powers should be.

5. No direct taxation by the central government, revenue is raised by levies on the States, authorized by no less than 3/4 of the States, on an annual basis.

6. Most importantly, an explicit right of secession.

I have managed to achieve this with my model “Articles” and certainly we would need to adopt such a structure before the other good ideas mentioned would become possible.

DD March 7, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Technically, as written, I contradicted myself by writing about the federal government and then subsequently referring to all government bodies. However, we can’t start returning power to the states without thinking. Some of my points, especially eminent domain and property taxes are important enough to apply to all government bodies. I should have been more clear, but hopefully most people understood that the main point concerns problems at the federal level.

Nick Bradley March 8, 2007 at 9:12 am

Mark Brabson,

I see that you’re a fan of the Articles of Confederation as well.

1. Elimination of a central executive.

– Agreed. Under the Articles, there was not true Central Executive as well. There was a president of the Congress, but he was more of a Majority leader with only a 1-year term. In a coutnerfactual America, the US Congress would have probably developed into a parliamentary system after the advent of political parties.

2. Separation of the central government from any involvement in the monetary or banking systems and an explicit ban on emission of bills of credit. Furthermore, a requirement that the government exclusively do business in hard money.

– Sounds good to me. But if funding is only possible by taxing political sub-units, the government will find it quite hard to grant itself monetary powers, i.e. givign itself the ability to print money.

3. Equal suffrage among the member states, with that suffrage being exercised by delegates selected by the state legislature, not the people.

– That’s how the American Senate is supposed to work. A unicameral senate sounds fine to me. What do you tihnk about the Congress under the Articles — States could send anywhere from 2 – 7 delegates to Congress, but only had 1 vote.

4. A Judiciary selected directly by the legislatures, so you don’t have an instrument of the central government, deciding what the central government’s powers should be.

– Why even have a judiciary? Couldn’t the legislatures themselves serve as a judiciary? The parties in a legal issue would, of course, be expected to go to arbitration unless it was somehow not possible. Why grant monopoly judiciary powers to the government??? At best, government judiciaries should have their juristidctions limited to solely inter-governmental affairs.

5. No direct taxation by the central government, revenue is raised by levies on the States, authorized by no less than 3/4 of the States, on an annual basis.

– Totally agree, but why 3/4ths? I propose that a political entity, such as a unicameral senate, must unanimously agree at the start of every 1-year session what percent is required for approval. Bargaining and discussion will take place, possibly an average of every legislator’s “bid”. Some terms it will be 51%, others it can be 85%. If agreement cannot be reached within a certain period of time, either (a) no legislation can be passed, or (2) legislation requires 100% approval.

6. Most importantly, an explicit right of secession.

– Totally. Under my confederation of confederacies, however, individuals would have the right to secede from the ward if they wanted.

http://crwl.blogspot.com

Mark Brabson March 8, 2007 at 10:34 am

Nick Bradley:

My revised draft of the “Articles” tries to stay true to the spirit of the original Articles. For example, each state gets to send 2 to 5 delegates, with each state delegation having one vote. The Department heads would severally report to the Congress. Some of the details have changed, but all the changes are in the direction of liberty.

As you can see below, I have created an ironclad hard money system and done everything I can to put central banking, fiat money and inflation in the grave.

From Article VI

“No State shall emit bills of credit nor charter a central banking institution. Each bank under a State’s jurisdiction shall be required to maintain one hundred percent reserves on its demand deposits and one hundred percent reserves against any banknotes. All banknotes issued shall state particularly the commodity backing the note, the weight of the commodity and shall state the note shall be redeemable on demand. No State shall ever pass any legal tender laws. All money coined under State authority or privately shall be gold or silver and each coin shall state its content of gold or silver. All States shall only make disbursements in gold or silver coin or bullion. No State shall make any law prohibiting the use of money lawfully coined in any other state. This section shall not be construed to prohibit the coining of platinum money for collector purposes.”

Entire Article VII

“All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare, and allowed by the Confederate States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States in proportion to the gross domestic product of each state. For purposes of this section, the average gross domestic product of the last five years for which gross domestic product data is available in all of the several States shall be used.

Each state shall raise its assessment in such manner as it shall see fit. Each state shall pay its assessment to the Confederate Treasury on a quarterly basis. The Confederate States in Congress assembled shall establish the due dates for each quarterly assessment. All assessments shall be paid in gold or silver coin or bullion. Special assessments levied under the provision of the second section of the eighth article shall be remitted separately from regular assessments and all assessments collected under such section shall be placed in a separate Treasury fund to be used solely for paying off the instrument of debt for which the assessment shall by law be made.

All payments and disbursements made by the Confederate States in Congress assembled shall be paid in gold or silver coin or bullion.

The Confederate States in Congress Assembled shall never emit bills of credit nor shall the Congress charter any central banking institution nor pass any legal tender laws nor coin money.”

Mark Brabson March 8, 2007 at 10:42 am

There is need for a limited Judiciary, but not nearly on the scale of what now exists. I give Congress the power to create Admiralty Courts and appoint the judges. As for the main Judiciary court. I would essentially act as an arbitrar. In the original Articles, Congress had that role, I have chosen to put that on this Court instead.

From Article IX

“The Confederate States in Congress Assembled shall have the power to establish a court, to be denominated the Court of the Confederacy. The Court of the Confederacy shall consist of one Justice from each of the several States, chosen by their respective States for a term not to exceed five years, such term to be served during good behavior. No person shall serve more than one term on the Court. Each State shall determine the compensation of their respective Justice and Congress shall not provide any additional compensation or deferred compensation to any former Justice. Congress shall by law fund all remaining expenses of the Court.

The Court of the Confederacy shall have original Jurisdiction in all disputes to which the Confederate States of America shall be a party, disputes involving Officers of the Confederate States of America in performance of their duties, disputes between two or more States or disputes between one or more States and foreign States. The Court of the Confederacy shall have appellate Jurisdiction over cases originating in the Admiralty Courts, cases arising in the Air Force or Navy and cases arising in the Army, but only to such forces as are in actual service of the Confederate States of America.

The Court of the Confederacy shall not have Jurisdiction in any dispute arising within a State, between a State and a citizen of another State or between a State and Citizens of a foreign State. All such disputes shall be the sole dominion of the respective State. The Court of the Confederacy shall have no appellate Jurisdiction over any case arising in a State’s court system.

In hearing cases in appellate and original Jurisdiction, all Justices from States that may be a party to the dispute shall recuse themselves. Starting with appellant or plaintiff as the case may be, the parties shall alternatively strike Justices until five are left, which Justices shall proceed to hear the case. In all cases arising either under original or appellant Jurisdiction and to which an appeal shall be made, all Justices from States that may be a party to the dispute shall recuse themselves and in addition, all Justices that participated in the original hearing of the case shall also recuse themselves. From the remaining Justices, fifteen shall be chosen by lot, who shall immediately proceed to hear the case. The decision of such panel shall be final.”

Nick Bradley March 8, 2007 at 10:55 am

“Each bank under a State’s jurisdiction shall be required to maintain one hundred percent reserves on its demand deposits and one hundred percent reserves against any banknotes.”

– I don’t think that the state has the right to tell banks what reserve ratios they should keep. If a bank wants to have a 98% reserve standard and loan out the other 2% instead of charging a negative interest rate to account holders, why prohibit them. In a free banking system, Fractional Reserve Banking (FRB) would be almost nonexistent, but could exist in small amounts.

“For purposes of this section, the average gross domestic product of the last five years for which gross domestic product data is available in all of the several States shall be used.”

– You’re getting into dangerous territory here; GDP is a very poor indicator of GDP, for one, and can be highly politicized. Also, whenever you tax something, you encourage there to be less of it. As a result, taxing output will reduce output.

A better option is to levy a flat tax on state treasuries. That way, you discourage profligate state spending while avoiding punishment of strong output.

http://crwl.blogspot.com

Mark Brabson March 8, 2007 at 11:32 am

Nick Bradley:

I guess I am showing my rather pronouced 100% reserve banking bias. :) Being a Rothardite on this particular issue, it is hard for me NOT to want to take action to stamp out inflationary activities. Obviously, if my proposal went to actual debate, that clause would obviously be one of the most debated. I would, however, stand absolutely behind my prohibition on central banks and bills of credit. I would be willing to bend on the issue of 100% reserve.

You are correct that GDP has its shortcomings. However, GDP is only being used as a BASIS for assessments, not for the assessments themselves.

As I see it, there are a limited number of ways of dividing assessments among the states.

1. Equally. For obvious reasons this is impossible and unjust.

2. Per capita. While probably the most just method, income disparities make this impractical.

3. Per GDP. Probably the most practical method, although admittedly not the most just.

4. The method of the original Articles, to wit: “All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States in proportion to the value of all land within each State, granted or surveyed for any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated according to such mode as the United States in Congress assembled, shall from time to time direct and appoint.” This would require ridiculous amount of bureacracy to attempt to achieve and would not be practical.

I thus chose option three as the best option available.

Remember again, however, that this is only the BASIS for assessments. Once a state receives its assessment, it can raise it by any means it wants. An income tax state may just raise its income tax rates. Ditto for sales and property tax states. The legislature could charge a $1000.00 a head poll tax if it wanted to. The method of raising the assessment is totally up to each individual state.

greg March 8, 2007 at 1:16 pm

I failed to appreciated it. It didn’t stick. The C and the BoR turned out to be only parchment barriers.

Nick Bradley March 8, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Mark Brabson,

“As I see it, there are a limited number of ways of dividing assessments among the states: [Equally, Per Capita, Per GDP, or per asset valuation]”

– You are correct that valuating ALL land would be incessantly bureaucratic, but you miss the simplest way to tax that I brought up earlier: A flat tax upon the state treasuries.

Think about it: If the states, in total, collect $1 Trillion in tax revenue, the Federal Government is entitled to a cut of the action, say 10 – 25 percent. Under the current federal structure, such a system would not be feasible, as the Federal government spends 3 – 4 times the cumulative spending of the states (making the tax rate and astounding 75%). Under such a system, however, the states would retain 100% control over federal spending; it is not merely left up to the states’ representatives.

As for how the states (or counties, which is where the system should logically extend to) should raise money, A Land Value Tax (LVT) would be the most just.

The tax would be on the value of land itself in a given jurisdiction, i.e. the land that a skyscraper sits on and the chicken coop next door (if such a situation existed) would have to pay the same tax rate.

But “aaah”, you say; how would the land be valuated in the first place.

This is where a system such as “Ward Republicanism” or a “Confederation of Confederacies” becomes even more valuable. The value of the land, if it were undeveloped, would be determined by unanimous consent of the assembled polis. One possible way to reach unanimous consent would be through an undisclosed bid process:

– Each citizen submits one bid on what he thinks the assessed land price should be. After all bids are given, the median value of all of the bids will be the assessed value for a given size of land (such as per acre). In order to encourage accurate bidding, a prize can be given to those with the most accurate bids, whether it is monetary or non-monetary.

A second undisclosed bidding process can be conducted in order to determine the proper tax rate. It should be conducted after the land’s value is determined, and a prize should be given to determine an accurate rate. The bidding process for tax rates can go up the “confederation of confederacies” chain, always applying a flat tax rate on subordinate units.

Here is an example:

The Ward Polis votes for the valuation of undeveloped land, with the votes being, $10,000, $30,000, $50,000, $100,000, and $200,000; the median value is determined to be $50,000

The Ward Polis then casts lots for the tax rate on the land: 0.5%, 1%, 1.5%, 2%, and 5%; the median value is determined to be 1.5%.

Each land-owning member of the Ward Polis is taxed $750 per acre.

A possible prize for the person who guessed closest to the median value could be to either (1) not pay taxes that term, or (2) get a percentage of tax revenue, such as 1%. Let us assume that the latter is the case. If there are 1,000 members of the Ward Republic, then there will be $750,000 in tax revenue.

The higher political authority then takes their cut, which was determined to be 20% from their own bidding process. The higher authority takes $150,000, the winner takes $7,500, and the Ward Republic is left with $592,500 to fund community operations.

At the next level, the gov’t collects $150,000 from 5 different Wards, totaling $750,000. The bid winner gets $7,500, and $150,000 is kicked up to the next level (assuming the higher level also takes 20%).

This process goes on and on up the chain, with each level entirely dependant on their subordinate units for funding. Since a large chunk of their own income is kicked up to the next higher level, it is in each political unit’s own self-interest to minimize its tax intake and allow the private to provide goods and services; the less that is taken in with taxes, the larger the amount of wealth that stays in the community.

Over time, there is a gradual inertia towards smaller and smaller government, until there is little or no government whatsoever. At any point in the process, a ward, city, county, state, or national government can opt out of the process by opting to raise zero taxes.

Nick Bradley,

Confessions of a Right-Wing Libertarian

http://crwl.blogpsot.com

Mark Humphrey March 8, 2007 at 8:51 pm

There is no logical disconnect between the observation that the Constitution was crafted primarily to restrain the federal government, and the suggestion that laws should be written prohibiting the seizure of private property by any government–local, state, or federal.

This is a profoundly reasonable suggestion, in light of the fact that A) individual natural rights can be, and have been, proven to exist; and therefore B) the highest political value is individual liberty reflective of natural rights, and thus C) other alleged political values such democracy, or republicanism, or federalism are logically subordinate to the supreme moral value of individualism and liberty.

If federalism blocks a proposed violation of private property in some situation, then three cheers! for federalism as it protects the highest political value. On the other hand, if a situation arises in which federalism nurtures and protects an invasion of private property, or other properly defined individual rights, then federalism ought to be cast aside in favor of some other means more immediately effective in securing liberty.

Paul Edwards March 11, 2007 at 6:38 pm

Mark,

Would you then also be in favor of empowering a world government to bring enhanced liberty and justice to all those oppressed by their local governments across the planet?

The flaw in this thinking is that it neglects the fact that centralization of political power tends to stray away from and not lead towards a system of liberty and justice. If you give a more central government an inch on some benevolent pretext, they will inevitably take a malevolent mile.

It’s not worth it.

cam April 30, 2007 at 7:01 pm

WHat were some of the problems and successes of the government under the ARTICLES of CONFEDERATION???

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