federalism, please

Here's something of which I would like to hear more:
“I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,” Gov. Perry said. “That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states’ rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.”
Surely this invocation of the 10th amendment comes too late to be as persuasive as it ought to be, but I think this is a case of better late than never. There is no hope for strong local community life while the need for such communities is stifled and negated by the omnipotent centrally-administered state. There is also great reason to be weary of the massive concentration of power; power certainly corrupts. The longer this continues to be ignored or misunderstood, the worse off we will be. Bravo, Texas.


Spiral Thrower said...

I agree with you Zach. However, i don't even think that corruption is necessary. I think that even well intentioned people have the ability to do tons of damage when generalization is applies on a federal level. It doesn't look like things are going to change any time soon though. At least oil is projected to remain cheap throughout the summer.

Zach said...


You're right, bad things don't necessarily have to come from bad people.

They can come from good people with good intentions who simply have bad problem solving skills.

Government is like that.

Anonymous said...

i love me some rick perry


"Also, have you noticed how places that pride themselves on being superpatriotic seem to have the most people who want to abandon the country entirely and set up shop on their own?"

bravo, texas

Anonymous said...

Here's the body of the article. I don't know how to hyperlink or do most things....

Let us pause to consider Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, and his feelings about seceding from the union.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Gail Collins

This all started during the recent anti-tax protests. You undoubtedly saw the pictures of the demonstrations full of people wearing teabags or tricorner hats who kept comparing themselves to the founding fathers at the Boston Tea Party. True, when it comes to taxation without representation, they were slightly different from colonial New Englanders on the minor point of having representation. But let’s not be picky.

Have you ever noticed that the states where anti-tax sentiment is strongest are frequently the same states that get way more back from the federal government than they send in? Alaska gets $1.84 for every tax dollar it sends to Washington, which is a rate of return even Bernard Madoff never pretended to achieve. Yet there they were in Ketchikan waving “Taxed Enough Already!” signs and demanding an end to federal spending.

Also, have you noticed how places that pride themselves on being superpatriotic seem to have the most people who want to abandon the country entirely and set up shop on their own?

“What a great crowd,” Perry twittered, referring to the protesters he addressed in Austin, some of whom were waving American flags and yelling “Secede!”

Afterward, he told reporters that Texas had come into the union with a unique right “to leave if we decided to do that.” This is a beloved piece of state folklore despite its unfortunate drawback of being totally untrue.

“My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention,” Perry continued. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that.”

Later, while Perry was holding another press conference after signing a bill extolling states rights, he repeated the part about this being “a great union” but then said that he understood the secessionists’ feelings.

This is not exactly a ringing endorsement. It’s as if your spouse pointedly noted that it’s extremely easy to dissolve marriages these days, then added that although he was not currently advocating a divorce, he certainly understood why other people who knew you both might think it was a good idea.

And what about my country, right or wrong? Weren’t there complaints, some from Texan quarters, during the last election that Barack Obama seemed insufficiently up front about his love of country? Isn’t threatening to dissolve the union over the stimulus package a little less American than failure to wear a flag pin?

Remember the time when Michelle Obama said, in a moment she spent an entire campaign trying to take back, that 2008 was the first time she could remember ever feeling really proud of her country? Can you imagine how the conservative base would have reacted if she said that it was the first time she didn’t feel like renouncing her citizenship?

And how, by the way, can you stand at a rally waving the American flag while yelling “Secede”? It’s like an employer handing out “worker of the week” certificates to employees who just learned that he was moving the plant to Mexico.

Can’t feel the love.

Perry, who is the sort of person who calls other guys “dude,” used to be a cotton farmer, a group that seems to have a special talent for combining rugged individualism with intransigent demands for government assistance. Even as we speak, the Obama administration budget-cutters are trying to end a longstanding federal practice of paying the costs of storing the entire national cotton crop every year. No other farmers get this kind of special treatment, and I am sure Perry’s failure to mention it when he calls for an end to corporate bailouts is a terrible oversight that will be corrected immediately.

The big mystery here is why the tax-protest crowds were behaving as if the world was coming to an end when all Obama’s infant presidency has done is lower taxes for a vast majority of the public. And why people like Perry seem to feel compelled to egg them on.

The answer is that what’s left of the Republican Party is intent on cutting off the knees of the administration before it actually manages to fulfill any campaign promises on reducing the huge economic gap between the top 5 percent of the country and the rest of the populace. In pursuit of that mission, fortune favors the hysterical and rewards politicians who behave like gerbils that just bit into an electric wire.

We don’t want to blame all Texans for the high jinks in Austin. It’s a state full of lovely people, three-fourths of whom, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll, have no desire whatsoever to secede from the United States.

But Perry really understands how that other quarter feels.

Zach said...


The simple reason is that these people understand themselves to be living in a time when America is abandoning its founding principles, and an America without it's founding principles can hardly be called to America anymore, because it has changed in such a fundamental way.

I'm not saying they're right, but I think that's their reasoning.

Is there a particular part of Gail Collins op-ed that you think is relevant?

I don't think her insult to the people of Texas really carries much weight because, as is made clear by that recent poll, Texas do not want to secede from the Union.

Zach said...

That should say, "another part of Gail Collins op-ed"

Anonymous said...

The motivation behind my post was to call into question the credibility of Texas Governor Rick Perry. Other than that, no, the article does not have much relevance to your original post. It's just hilarious. Although clearly the hypocrisy and ignorance of this country (including seemingly most policitians, both left and right, but also apparently a good portion of the populace at large) is outrageous.

To your reply above: You state that these Texans might believe that America has changed in some fundamental way - i.e. (I think) with regard to the stimulus package, and our supposed headlong sprint towards nationalization/socialism, (national socialism?!;)!).

Yes, I can be called out for being stereotypical and/or elitist, but these people are idiots. They are not proposing secession because the founding principles of their country are under attack. They are doing so because they have this refrain playing repeatedly in their heads, "Obama bad, stimulus bad, taxes bad", without any nuanced understanding of the original tea party (yes, important!), the stimulus plan, Obama's tax policy, etc. But yes, that is just my opinion, and I don't have any hard poll data, just the sounds and images of the news media.

But anyway, the last time that states seceded, they did so on the same premise that America was no longer the nation they had come to know and love. And secessionists emphasized, in connection with the issue of slavery, the notion of states' rights. Of course not a perfect analogy (no such thing), but my point is that for these people to suggest secession because America is perhaps changing, and certainly not even in nearly as dramatic a fashion as 150 years ago, is shortsighted and ridiculous. Change can be good. Founding principles, or interpretations thereof, can change, e.g. Amendments 13-15. But then of course there's the fun debate of strict versus liberal constructionism...and the ship of Theseus comes to mind as well...is this my constitution? Is this my country anymore! Oh damn it all

But anyway, why specifically does Perry think states' rights are being overrun?

Zach said...

Of course secession is a ridiculous idea. Did Perry suggest it? I didn't even follow that part of this story. I just saw these remarks and found myself nodding my head in agreement.

Perry thinks states rights are being overrun because the federal government is forcing states to accept stimulus money that any particular state may or may not want/need.

As I note in my comments on Perry's remarks, the invocation of states rights may be too little and too late. But I am of the mind that it is better late than never.

As to your comments on the nation's founding principles: we certainly don't understand or appreciate the ingenious structure of our government anymore, but this does not mean that the principles upon which it was founded have changed. A principle that changes is no principle at all.

For what it's worth, the principle that is at stake here is the principle that government ought to be limited. It is clear that the current administration rejects this idea, and this is what Perry is lamenting.

Anonymous said...

Well, Perry's 10th amendment comments obviously take on a different flavor when read in the context of everything else he had to say to the tea-partiers. NYT's Collins' entire column was about Perry's crazy secessionist rhetoric.

"Government ought to be limited" is obviously open to interpretation, and interpretation will depend on political ideology. The only thing that's clear is that the current administration is applying this principle of limited government to a lesser degree than Perry and most conservatives see fit, which isn't surprising. I don't think this is the same, however, as abandoning a founding principle.

And as Collins writes in her column above, states have always happily accepted federal tax dollars over and above the amount that they've contributed to federal tax revenue, and these tax dollars have in most cases been designated for specific purposes. It's hard to see why Perry, Jindal, Palin et al are taking particular umbrage at receiving federal money now. And with a $5 billion budget deficit, Texas does need the money.

Zach said...

Why do you call Perry's rhetoric secessionist when he very clearly suggested no such thing? Is it secessionist to simply explore the idea (which he didn't even do in his speech?) And Collins assertion that it's simply not possible for states to secede is flat out wrong. It's happened before and there's no reason it couldn't happen again.

"The only thing that's clear is that the current administration is applying this principle of limited government to a lesser degree than Perry and most conservatives see fit. I don't think this is the same, however, as abandoning a founding principle."

You're right - it's not like it's a specific rejection of the idea of limited government - that came a long time ago. It's more the country has now taken another decisive and critical step in the direction away from limited government.

The new programs are designed to create state dependency on the federal government. How can I claim this? Well, the stimulus funding is largely directed in the short term. States will receive lots of funding to start many projects - but this funding will dry up in a few years. When the funding dries up and the states do not have the tax revenue to support the programs that have been put in place, they will have no where else to look other than the federal government.

This is why Obama's policies are particularly paradigm-shifting; irrespective of the fact that the sheer size and scope of his programs is entirely unprecedented, which alone should be enough to make people hesitate (also, looking at the total amount of money being spent is how you see why "Perry, Jindal, Palin et al are taking particular umbrage at receiving federal money now.")