Thursday, April 30, 2009

How about a real new deal?...

Stinky Wilmont was one of my best buddies back in the days at Millville Grade School. I probably ended up in more trouble than I should have whenever I followed his lead, but I also had a lot more fun than I would have if Stinky hadn’t been around.

Occasionally though, Stinky would embark on some adventure that I felt pretty sure was destined to end in tears, and either my better judgment, or fear, would get the better of me, and I would decide to leave him to his own devices. As the years and grades passed, and my judgment got better, partly because some of my fears were well-founded, Stinky and I kind of drifted apart. It may have in part also, because Stinky’s judgment never really showed any signs of improvement. I don’t think there was any animosity between us, just my realization that Stinky and I might not have the same goals or values.

When Indiana started its lottery, I remember a woman in town who was absolutely obsessed with it. After she had nearly depleted the family checking and savings accounts, her husband contacted all of the places in town that sold lottery tickets, cashed checks, or loaned money, and told them that he would no longer be responsible for his wife’s debts.
I don’t know for sure how much legal weight his action carried. But if she couldn’t control her habit, I guess this was a good first step instead of just jumping into a divorce. I don’t know whatever became of the situation. I hope it all worked out for them.

Just recently, Megan McAllister, the fiancée of accused CraigsList killer Phillip Markoff, decided it might be time to reconsider her decision to “stand by her man”, cancel their upcoming nuptials, and move on with her own life. Probably a good move on her part, I think.

In their most recent sessions, about twenty state legislatures have introduced or discussed resolutions re-declaring their sovereignty as states, and re-asserting the limited power the federal government is granted under the Constitution. The basis for these resolutions is the 10th Amendment of that Constitution, which declares that: “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.”

Many years ago, Thomas Jefferson noted that “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” It seems we’ve been pretty complacent over the years about yielding our liberties to an ever growing government. There aren’t many things we can do anymore that don’t require some sort of government permission or license. Even getting together to protest against the government often requires a permit from the government. And for the most part, it seems the American people have pretty well accepted that.

The renewed interest in State and personal sovereignty seems then to be more tied to the federal government’s insatiable appetite for spending. It might be the official federal debt, which recently passed $11 trillion, or the unofficial debt (which includes the federal government’s unfunded liabilities), which has been estimated at over $60 trillion. It might be the hundreds of costly mandates the federal government has, without Constitutional authorization, imposed upon the States. Perhaps there is finally a realization that all of this debt will eventually fall on the people of the States, and a realization that it is more debt than taxpayers can afford. Perhaps it’s simply a common sense survival instinct that tells people to avoid things that will probably end up causing them harm.

Whatever the reasons, it may indeed be time for the States to take a critical look at where the federal government is leading them, and negotiate a new deal with that government.

Or at least make them abide by the old one.

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