Are we a nation or a confederation?

capitolAdvocates of State’s Rights and small government urge that as much as possible be left to the States.  A popular slogan is “Big government needs to get out of the way, give Americans chance to rise.” However, proponents of small government seldom if ever explain how big government is in the way of anything.

How would small government and States’ rights work for us?

  • State laws supersede Federal laws.
  • Disputes between states resolved by negotiations, sanctions or war rather than Federal Courts.
  • Rich states do well while poor states make the best of their plight.
  • No move than voluntary uniformity between state laws.
  • No Federal Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, or Energy
  • No Federal Department of Health and Human Services, or Homeland Security
  • No Federal Department of Housing and Urban development, or Department of Labor
  • No Department of the Interior, or Transportation
  • No Federal Lands: National Forests, National Parks, or Monuments

If the above accurately reflects calls for small government and States’ rights, we should be careful what we wish for.

Often calls for “small government” are no more than slogans suggesting opposition to whichever government programs one dislikes. Similarly, calls for “States’ Rights” apply just to those provisions of Federal Law that one happens to oppose. Thus Rep. Reed was recently caught in a dilemma–should the Federal Government override the NYS fracking ban or respect NY State’s rights?  He dodged this issue with an indirect attack on New York’s right to ban fracking.

We already tried small government and States’ rights once with the Articles of Confederation. It would be silly to try that again and expect different results.

© William Hungerford – March 2015




About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
This entry was posted in Congress, Economics, Environmental, fracking, Political, Reed's Views, Rights and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Are we a nation or a confederation?

  1. Deb meeker says:

    State’s Rights’ issues can be pretty hairy. I would like for example for New York’s fracking ban to remain, while I would want states’ bans on Gay marriage and states’ laws tighten restrictions on women’s right to choose overturned.


  2. BOB McGILL says:

    a socialist republic 🙂


  3. josephurban says:

    The issue was initially resolved in 1789. As you mentioned, the Articles of Confederation were an abject failure. The primacy of the US Constitution was established. State laws are inferior to the federal government laws. Period. The issue was finally resolved during the Civil War.
    Nothing has held back real progress more than the power, though limited, of individual state governments. The problem is that state governments too often reflect the power of the elites and not the people. That is why virtually every step toward individual freedom has been taken by the federal government, not state governments. Or by federal courts.
    It is too bad that we have this antiquated system of government, but we are stuck with it. It is ironic that while our leaders spout “freedom” for people in other nations they reject the freedom to vote for many of our own citizens. Look what it took to finally pass a Voting Rights Act, only to have many states recently unilaterally establish laws directly designed to overturn the right to vote for many citizens. It is a constant battle.
    “State’s rights” has always been a code term for racism and disenfranchisement of the working poor. Still is.


  4. whungerford says:

    “The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could drastically limit the ability of voters to take responsibility for redistricting decisions out of the hands of legislators.The case, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, challenges a state constitutional amendment adopted in 2000 by Arizona voters which created a politically neutral commission drawing new boundaries for the state’s congressional districts every ten years.” Thus the attack on fair elections isn’t over.


  5. whungerford says:

    Federal laws are appropriate for issues national in scope. Certainly marriage rights, women’s rights, and voting rights are national issues. Fracking might be considered local–not all States have shale gas formations–but as an environmental issue is national. Our NYS fracking ban would be less needed if there were no Halliburton exception to the Clean Water Act.


  6. BOB McGILLl says:

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The 2012 state petitions for secession were a citizen originated petition drive using the White House’s petitioning system. By November 14, 2012 all 50 US states have had petitions filed by their citizens.[1][2] Generally, each petition seeks peaceful secession and independence for their respective states from the United States of America


  7. Robert Kriegar says:

    In secession discussions, it most often seems at though an angry mob is at the door, waving torches and pitchforks. However, debates in support of it swing wildly from the right o the left. In general, it could be argued that a majority of the population now understands that marijuana laws, and the war on marijuana, are specious exercises in futility. However, secession as a means to demonstrate to the Federal Government, would also affect laws such as an equal right to marry, and other civil rights that that are affect race, creed, color, nationality, etc. Although secession is clearly not the answer, the government does little for itself when the driving force to change the mind of legislature is the possibility of marijuana being yet another source of tax revenue. Effectively, it tells young people that it is not right, nor wrong, that matters. Not health, not safety. All that matters is money. Revenue.

    Conservatives are trying to turn back the hands of time, and take this country back before the Jim Crow era. When one considers both sides of the coin that conservatives, and liberals, seem to want to have these days, people are entirely too willing to risk the Constitution of this country on knee-jerk, band aid fixes. We are a Union, with an Over-arching, rather than under-arching, Constitution. That is how it should be, and how it must remain. Therefore, the only responsible answer to the equation, is to get lobbyist dollars out of Washington. In my humble opinion, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Robert Kriegar says:

    Please, forgive my lack of proofreading-I seem to rely too heavily on an edit button.


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