How to truly fix the federal government

Jon Gabriel has some good advice.

I recommend everyone step back, take a few breaths from a paper bag, and ask why control of the government is so damn important to partisans of both sides.

A few years ago, protesters feared that President Obama would sideline school choice, kill off their existing health insurance and make them violate their traditional beliefs. Today’s protesters fear President Trump will defund public schools, take away their health insurance and persecute LGBT citizens.

Despite being on opposite sides, protesters on the right and left can end their fears the same way. If you’re afraid that the federal government will ruin your life, reduce the power of the federal government.

Want a good education for your kids? Keep it out of the hands of Beltway politicians and make the big decisions at your local school board meeting … Want good health insurance? Don’t let those jokers in Congress decide what plan you need and shop around the local market … Want to pursue happiness? Keep the government far away from which gender you date, which bathroom you use and how you honor your conscience. A few rules might be different in San Francisco and Tulsa, but as long as D.C. protects everyone’s essential rights, individuals on either side will do just fine.

Instead of spending millions of hours and billions of dollars to help your president impose his will on every American, try something really radical. Take away as much of his power as you can so it doesn’t much matter much who controls the White House.

There’s more at the link.

That seems like common sense to me.  I don’t care whether your politics are left or right, progressive or conservative.  The Founding Fathers allocated certain very limited powers to the central US government, and left the rest to the states.  Why not get back to that vision?  Let central, federal government handle only what’s important to the nation as a whole.  All the rest should revert to state and local control, where people who know local and regional issues can make common-sense decisions about how to handle them, from the perspective of those who will be most affected by those measures.  Don’t trust – and don’t allow – a centralized national bureaucracy to make those decisions on your behalf.

Sounds like a winning recipe to me.



  1. A few years ago, protesters feared that President Obama would sideline school choice, kill off their existing health insurance and make them violate their traditional beliefs. Today’s protesters fear President Trump will defund public schools, take away their health insurance and persecute LGBT citizens.

    As to Obama:
    he tried, he did, and he cheered them on.

    As to Trump:
    Good, it's not theirs if they're not paying for it, and being allowed to tell a person "no" isn't persecution – freedom of association cuts both ways.

    The irony being is that defunding public schools is actually right in line with his proposed solution – reduce the scope and scale of power of centralized government. Ditto cutting out government – provided health coverage and services. Ditto allowing people to make their own choices as to who they associate with or what services they provide.

    In short – with Trump , people are afraid of him doing exactly what he proposes is the ideal solution.

  2. The problem is that whereas the conservatives are generally content to let people get on with their lives provided they live a long way away, the left cannot abide anyone anywhere not living by their rules, hence they want to impose their rules on everyone.

  3. I still believe that the first way to reduce the reach of government is to starve it. Cut spending, deeply and painfully, ride out the turbulence and shrieking that would cause, and then start on the next step, whatever that is.

    My hope is that President Trump uses the legislative process to do this, or the next Democrat in office can undo whatever he does.

  4. But, there are essential services that all governments need to provide. After all, such as water, roads, fairly clean air, there are more, but, do I see FedEx building roads to get from here to there? GM? Ford? No, I see tax dollars, water districts building water pipes, and areas growing mercury free foodstuffs. There are some useful things that government accomplish.

  5. The problem with "let the States do it" is George Wallace
    standing in the University of Alabama doorway.

    That is not to say what we have now is better, because the
    Feds can be wrongheaded, too (abortion).

    So, we have and need the Feds as a check on the States, but
    lack the requisite balancing check on the Feds.

  6. Before FedEx, there were the railroads and the old express companies (American, Wells Fargo, National, Adams, etc.), and between them they managed to deliver things just fine without massive government spending on roads. Many water systems have been for-profit privately-owned, or co-ops. These are not things that necessarily need large, or any, government involvement.

  7. Tim Newman – As conservatives, we like to tell ourselves that we are in favor of laissez faire government policies, but when I interact with most conservatives that's not really the case. How about the drug war? Prayer in schools? Gay marriage? Flag burning? In my experience, most conservatives are emphatically in favor of strong central government control – they just favor it for different issues. I'd argue we need to get the national government out of both sides and if those other items need to be regulated, do it at the state or local level.

    James Buchanan – Yes, there are services that government should provide. Interestingly, post roads are one of the items actually mentioned in the Constitution as being a specific Federal power. However, you are overlooking the roles of state and local governments. Most of the things you mentioned are already provided at those levels, not at the Federal level. I'd argue almost all of them could be provided by private industry, and have been in many cases, but if a large group of citizens wants the government to provide them, go for it. Just do it at the state or local levels so people can choose whether they want to have that level of government involvement or not. Pare the Federal government back to the original level provided for in the Constitution.

  8. Point to note: It is "The United States of America," not "America With a Huge Central Government and Fifty Insignificant Political Subdivisions."

    If one reads the Constitution one is hard pressed to find justification for most – and please, heed that word "most" – of whatever it is that happens in Washington, D.C. So, it makes perfect sense to stop doing it. If it needs to be done, I'd thnk the states are quite capable of doing it all by themselves, in a manner particularly suited to the needs and circumstances of each state. Which is what the original plan was.

    It's long been said that transitions are difficult, and a shift from fed dot gov to the 50 will be no different, especially when the dollar flow from DC to the 50 slows, or stops completely (I'm omitting the District of Columbia – the traditional 51st jurisdiction to be mentioned – because the Constitution declares and defines D.C. as a federal District, hence the name).

    A lot of expenses in the 50 are covered, whole or in part, by distributions from D.C. so if those activities are to be continued at their current level the missing fed dot gov money will have to be made up somewhere. That means state taxes will have to rise to cover it, portending at least some degree of double taxation: states need funds to replace what used to come from D.C. while D.C. is still demanding the taxes to support its largess to the 50.

    A great many activities in the 50 are irrelevant or superfluous to that particular state, but they've been going on, financed by Uncle, so there will certainly be attempts to continue them. The Citizens will have to exercise substantial due diligence upon their state government to make it work.

  9. @TheOtherSean

    The Railroads were largely funded by land grants from the Government.
    The Government also took over flying AirMail for a while.

    It's hard to argue that NASA in the '60s was doing something that private industry could have done.

    There are times for the Government to do things, but usually it's only for a short time.

    Letting the bureaucrats grow them empires is always a mistake.

    Trump is saying that he wants to reduce regulations by 75%. That would be good, but it wouldn't prevent the next President from adding the regulations back (but adding that load would create outcries, and produce lots of cases for people to ridicule the regulations being added)

    The best thing that the President could do to "future proof" his changes is to reduce the size/budgets ofthe agencies invovled so that undoing his changes will require drastic additional spending. This is hard to do, but he's off to a good start with the hiring freeze, his announced intention to eliminate "baseline budgeting" is another good step.

    Let's see how far he can go on this path.

  10. There are many regulations that once done away with, are not able to be brought back by law by the agencies whom they were done away from. Complicated and all, but that is the way it works. As to states not getting money from D.C., who do you think D.C. gets their money from? They get it from the states, that means they get it from us, and then send it back out TO us, if we toe their line, and do what they say. I think that it would be a lot better if we just kept most of our money and did what we thought best at the local and state level. Let the Feds do what they are supposed to do, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. Take care of foreign affairs and all that sort of thing, and stay the hell out of our business and our private lives.

  11. @David Lang

    The majority of US railroad construction was privately funded. In general, if a railroad was built through mostly-settled territory, it was privately funded, and if through unsettled or lightly-settled lands there were federal land grants, but there were exceptions. Some railroads that were privately funded accepted subsidies from local communities to run the railroad through their town instead of a neighbor. The Milwaukee Road and the Great Northern both built their lines to the Pacific through lightly-settled lands without land grants. The Pennsylvania Railroad started with the purchase of a money-losing hodge-podge of railroads, canals, and inclined planes from the government of Pennsylvania, but upgraded and improved them with private capital and extended its lines to the Midwest.

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