cross-posted from the Iowa Tenth Amendment Center
Ian Millhiser, writing for the Center for American Progress, poses an interesting question: “What if the Tea Party wins?”
It turns out that this question is the only interesting thing among the standard progressive boilerplate served up by Mr. Millhiser. I know I shouldn’t waste my time in responding, as these alarms pop up from progressives like so many prairie dogs across the landscape, but, to be honest, it’s too much fun to avoid.
First, setting that bothersome Constitution aside for now, let’s address those terrible things that Millhiser is confident will happen if the Tea Party “wins.” “Rotting meat,” “sub-minimum wage jobs,” “higher education” as a “luxury,” “Medicaid,” –the list is endless in the eyes of the fed worshippers. But I won’t address these items too much individually, but rather as a batch, which can be addressed by the fifty states—in their own way. Everything on his list of wonderful things performed by the federal government in a sloppy, wasteful, and heavy handed manner can be done at the state level, as long as the states’ residents actually want them. It would be up to them to craft and implement the programs, but they would have control and they would have to watch spending because their respective state would actually be operating under a true, honest budget where they would be unable to print money out of thin air to enable further, reckless spending on programs that they can’t afford. And future generations wouldn’t be saddled with crushing debt.
Millhiser claims that the Tea Party wants to “reimagine the Constitution as an anti-government manifesto.” (Speaking of “manifesto,” what has been done to our Republic must have been inspired by another manifesto.) Really? “Reimagine”? (John Lennon could have changed the title of his song, if he’d been more creative.) I have been to Tea Party meetings and events and I hear no such talk about reimagining the Constitution. The opposite is actually true, as most, if not all Tea Partiers are pretty devoted to restoring the Constitution as it was written and intended by the Founding Fathers.
Millhiser refers to “tentherism” as that dastardly practice of reading Constitutional powers “too narrowly.” Imagine that? The powers of the federal government are enumerated and constitutionalists or Tea Partiers want the federal government to honor those enumerated powers, and they are the ones with the problem?
And oh, did you know that the Congress can empower the “federal government to levy taxes and leverage these revenues for programs such as Social Security and Medicare”? Now who’s doing the “reimagining”? So, the very act of levying taxes automatically empowers Congress to create programs outside of the enumerated powers, according to our scholar, Mr. Millhiser.
Millhiser also comments on how impractical it would be if states ran their own versions of Social Security because of people moving from state to state. To that I simply say: then don’t bother with those government-sponsored “retirement” programs at all. There is a clean and simple option and one that was widely used before the advent of Social Security: self-directed retirement savings and it doesn’t matter what state you move to and you do not have to jump through legalistic hoops to implement it. It works this way: you earn money and then you save it in a bank, under your mattress, or wherever you want and nobody needs to know because its nobody’s business but yours because you earned the money and this is a free country.
Our scholar also lists all the problems that would occur “If a cow is raised in Texas, slaughtered in Oklahoma, and then sold as steaks in New York.” But his angst only underscores what Tea Partiers and “tenthers” are rebelling against, and that is too much regulation, too many taxes, and too many government-imposed roadblocks that people have to contend with on a daily basis. I’ve read books about the “old days” when people ate steaks that did not have to pass the modern bureaucratic muster and the people didn’t die in the streets, as Millhiser would have you believe. We’re seeing this federal government heavy handedness on display against Amish and others who only want to sell their whole, raw milk to others who want to drink whole, raw milk, which, incidentally, is healthier than the substitute that passes as milk on stores’ “dairy” shelves. Thanks, FDA and the Agriculture Department!
Millhiser goes on with his litany of other terrible things that, you know, would happen without a strong, overreaching, and benevolent federal government there to protect us. But he conveniently leaves out the wars that the federal government has gotten us into, starting with the Civil War with its 600,000-plus lives lost, not over slavery, which was on its way out anyway, but because of greed, power lust, and government corruption. Then there are the small wars, World War I (and some would argue parts of WWII), the Korean and Vietnam wars, the seemingly endless “War on Terror.” All told, millions of lives lost not because of states being belligerent, but because of power-mad politicians at the federal level—the same level that protected the institution of slavery. Then there are the amazing Supreme Court rulings such as Roe v. Wade. But hey, we got our food safety, Social Security, and Pell grants in return didn’t we? What a steal!
Millhiser also takes on the “unconstitutional doctrine” of nullification, as he puts it, by citing the supremacy clause, which, in his mind, would empower Congress to do pretty much anything it wanted to do. But, Mr. Millhiser might reply: “Well, there would be some limits to the power that Congress could wield. After all they’re not dictators.” To which I would reply: Oh, and where might those limits be found? It wouldn’t be Article 1, Section 8, would it? The supremacy and welfare clauses are happily hamstrung by the enumerated powers entrusted to the federal government. He also states that “This doctrine [nullification] is not simply unconstitutional [tell that to Jefferson and Madison, authors of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolves, which stated that nullification was the “rightful remedy” to federal incursions into states’ rights], it is a direct attack on the idea that we are the United States of America.” Well, let’s all just trash our state constitutions and forget that we were the creators of the federal government and entrusted it with limited duties and that it was to do our bidding and not lord over us like the English. But hey, being “united” under despotism is the right thing to do.
Thuggery, power, greed, mismanagement, and waste exist in spades at the federal level.
These problems can all be better addressed at the state level. A high school student could tell you that. But that’s been the problem all along, hasn’t it? The Constitution has been pushed aside, and millions have paid a dear price for it. And obfuscating statists like Mr. Millhiser have been accomplices to this mockery of our rich heritage of liberty and those who sacrificed so much to bring it to fruition.
Will the Tea Party Win? The more appropriate question is: Will the Founding Fathers win–again?