This is the last in a five part series on things that I would do today to be assured of a stronger, freer, more prosperous America 25 years from now.
Our previous installments have dealt with radically overhauling the U.S. tax code, reasserting the role of fathers in a stable society, returning control of schools to the neighborhoods and communities that they serve and getting our national energy policy right by reducing the role of government in it.
And that’s the topic of our final installment of this five part series: the role of the federal government.
The first three words of the Constitution are ‘We the People.” The government that was established by the Constitution exists to serve us. The federal government it created is designed to act as an agent of the states, not the other way around. One of the design characteristics of our federalist system of government is that with the Constitutional necessity of respecting the sovereignty of the states, it is difficult for a single powerful personality to co-opt the government, as happened in post World War I Germany.
The federal government’s role is to do for the states what they cannot or should not do for themselves. Broadly speaking, the federal government exists to provide a common defense, to provide an orderly framework for the coexistence of the separate states and to act on behalf of the states in dealing with foreign powers.
The tenth amendment to the Constitution restates the principle of Federalism by providing that powers not granted to the national government nor prohibited to the states are reserved to the states or to the people.
So why is the federal government so deeply in our lives? Why do we have the federal government telling us how to run our schools, where we can build power plants, what kind of roads we can drive on, where we can produce energy or who we can hire and how much we must pay them? How is it that the federal government is almost a co-equal partner in the relationships we have with our health providers?
If the Congress decides one day that 55 miles per hour is a better maximum speed on the highway than 70 miles per hour, why do we in Texas have to go along?
If we must incarcerate a criminal in Smith County, Texas, why does the federal government have a say in what the jail looks like?
I believe that a significant percentage of the problems that we face today are not because the federal government is doing too little but instead because it is doing too much.
The 63,000 page United States tax code, the erosion of the responsible role of fathers brought about by the expansion of federally-driven welfare payments to pregnant women, the collapse of the highly successful neighborhood schools that help build a broadly educated population and the fact that in recent memory we have had multiple dislocations in the price and availability of energy; are all attributable to an over-involvement of the federal government in our lives.
We as a people rely far too heavily on the federal government to provide for our health and prosperity in our old age. Your interest lies in keeping enough of your earnings so that you can enjoy a long, comfortable retirement. The government’s interest lies in taking as much of your earnings as it can get its hands on and then having you die five minutes after your last paycheck clears.
The people of the State of Texas send about $35 billion a year to Washington in the form of federal income taxes. The federal government sends about $35 billion to the State of Texas in the form of funds for highways, bridges, schools, hospitals, transit systems, airports and a whole host of other things too numerous to list here. All of that money, which was ours to start with, comes back to us with a tangle of strings attached.
It’s no more complicated than this. If your life depended on getting either State Sen. Kevin Eltife of Tyler on the phone or getting U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on the phone, to save your life, who would you call first?
To the extent that we reduce the role of the federal government in our lives we reassert our freedom and we maximize our chances of prosperity.
The tea parties of Wednesday were, in my opinion, a useful exercise. They called upon thousands of Americans to stand up to the federal government and say, “Let me keep my money and run my own life.”
If we keep saying that and say it loudly and effectively so that it gets heard and acted upon, we will be the better for it.