My good friend, Jim, with whom I regularly correspond (mostly about forms, functions and effectiveness of government) wrote the following to me a few days ago.  Please read it and comment.

So, just for a Thought Experiment, consider a simple constitutional amendment: that federal laws are not binding upon individual states.

What a changed picture that would present!  Suddenly all national efforts would be organized on a voluntary, state-by-state basis.  If we want a standing military, interstate highways or air traffic control, we would be signatories to those agreements.  We would raise and spend our own taxes, at the lowest practicable level, and contribute to higher levels of hierarchy at our option – something like the Swiss government.

The consequences would be mind-blowing: those governments which feel like supporting people who have never worked – and who never plan to work – would be perfectly free to do so, and citizens who approve of that could simply move to such a blue state and indulge their impulses to their heart’s and pocket’s content.  Those who believe that charity begins at home would move to a red state, while those who feel good about giving their money to anyone who claims to need it would move to a state of like-minded choice.  Presidents could fulminate, declaim, admonished and abjure to the patience of the listener, but those who were not persuaded could safely ignore the political and financial machinations of self-appointed moralists – much in contrast to our present situation.

I expect that for a while two Americas would coexist – each with a freedom unknown for many generations now.  All kinds of social experiments could flourish; the guinea pigs would always be volunteers.  Perhaps we would all learn a great deal; it would be a nobly practical experiment for the entire world.  But I predict that the one which would last would be the more Spartan one of self-sufficiency, self-responsibility and individual choice.  Perhaps regrettably, I augur that Blue America would go the way of the Oneida Society.

Importantly, several vital precepts of our founders would be revived, principally “consent of the governed.”

This would be most American and most patriotic – for those whom that matters.

The rest could hang themselves on their own noble intentions – with our blessings!

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Constitution

Just a note, about the idea of an Amendment to the Constitution.  To date the Constitution has been Amended 27 times, 10 of which were done almost immediately upon ratification of the Constitution, the “Bill of Rights” ratified in December of 1791.  There are four ways to legally amend our constitution:               1.  Proposed by Congress and ratified by State Legislatures – this is the default method and has been the path to amendment for all but one of the 27 Amendments to our Constitution;  2.  Proposed by Congress and ratified by a State Convention.  This has been used once on the 21st Amendment;  3.  Proposed by a Convention of the States and ratified by the State Legislatures – has never happened;            4.  Proposed by a Convention of the States and ratified by State Conventions – has never happened.

Since the United States is technically supposed to be a Federal Republic, it is worth considering the current relationship between the many self governing states and the Federal Government.  Today, in my view, it is a union of independent states that is ruled by the whim of the Federal government with little choice available to the various states.  My definition of a Federal Republic suggests that neither the States nor the Federal Government can change law or policy which directly effects the other without the consent of the other, yet, the Federal Government daily makes new laws or new bureaucratic rules that effect the States without the States’ consent.

And then there is the sticky matter of “States Rights” as described in the 10th Amendment, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  It can be argues that the Federal Government has taken many of the rights that are “reserved to the States respectively.”

Do you think such a 28th Amendment would help reign in Federal Government spending and the growth of Federal Government?  If the Federal Government did shrink because of a 28th Amendment, would the same size and cost of government just be shifted from Washington, D. C. to the States?  Would that be a bad thing?

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