On July 16, 2012, Sherrilyn A. Ifill published an article titled “Can State Leaders do a Good Job” at CNN.com. I contend this article is full of innuendo and devoid of proof backing up many of her statements.
Her argument is in defense of a huge, overpowering central government just because states don’t do what she thinks is right. Of course, she ignores the horrible leadership provided by our illustrious federal leaders over the years.
Her first mistake is quoting the gaff master, then Senator and current VPOTUS Joe Biden, who will say anything just to hear himself talk.
“The reason the federal government got into 90% of the business it got into is that the state[s]…did not do the job.”
As the article progresses, she refers to “doing a good job” as accepting all federal dollars offered, as if they came from some source other than the plunder of its citizens.
She specifically excoriates Gov. Perry of Texas for saying they will not participate in the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid expansion. According to her, it is the government’s fault that 25% of the Texas population does not have health insurance.
I suggest that the health care / health insurance problem is another pain inflicted on Americans by the central government which created the monster. When FDR instigated wage and price controls on the country during WWII, companies needed a means to keep and hire the best employees. They did this by offering expanded benefits which included health insurance. After the war, unions and government employees took this offering as a “right” and demanded healthcare coverage paid for by their employer. Businesses and governments mistakenly did not evaluate the future cost which has led many to bankruptcy – see General Motors and Stockton, CA.
Health insurance companies sprang up to provide the products demanded by employers. With so much business, states couldn’t possibly allow the free market to work, and they decided to regulate the industry. Once in the regulation business, state legislatures passed laws demanding such menial coverage as hair plugs and birth control. Items that, I believe, should be individual responsibility. The result of their demands resulted in upward spiraling health insurance and health care costs. Our elected representatives and appointed bureaucrats just won’t accept that their actions have caused the problem.
Now the federal government is trying to fix a problem they created and one that state governments exacerbated throughout the years. When a state says it won’t play along with more policies it doesn’t agree with, foisted on them by the federal government, Professor Ifill says the states are doing the wrong thing.
Continuing with the attack she adds: “Biden’s 1981 remarks suggest, a good reason the federal government has expanded and occupied areas that might be best served by state government is precisely because of the lack of leadership that has too often been the hallmark of state governments. This has been particularly true in the South, where the idea of state sovereignty and racial injustice often went hand in hand.”
This was true years ago when members of VPOTUS Biden’s Democratic party included former KKK Grand Dragon Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Harry Byrd of Virginia, Lester Maddox of Georgia, George Wallace of Alabama, and the like. But now they have all been removed by voters, and the beliefs of that segment of the Democrat Party rejected.
Even with these less than stellar state officials at the helm, the citizens still had the option and right to move to a state where they were more accepted. Expanded national government homogenizes the country and does away with the 50 separate republican experiments. With expansion, citizens do not have the option to select another location within the country with policies that might better meet their needs. They are just stuck with the crappy federal policies.
In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, some industrious and highly talented blacks from Alabama moved north to help build a Veteran’s Hospital in New York, avoid discrimination, and try to make a better life for themselves. Once again, the heavy hand of government intervened. Union members did not like that idea at all and implored their members of Congress to protect them. The result was the Davis Bacon Act which required union wages to be paid on all government public works contracts. Since blacks were not allowed to join unions, this effectively eliminated the non-union blacks from getting good work and saving jobs for “locals.”
Later in the article, she manages to lump all Republicans in with the previously mentioned Democrats.
“To be fair, the phenomenon of bellicose or ineffective state leadership is not limited to the South or the Republicans.”
It was the Democrat Party before 1970 that was the problem, not the Republicans who actively supported the Civil Rights acts of the 1950’s and 1960’s and she provides no proof that allows her to lump today’s Republicans in with them. Additionally, by this statement she claims that only Republicans practice ineffective state leadership. It seems one fact that contradicts her assumption is the amount of business leaving Democrat run and almost bankrupt California for Republican run Texas.
She goes on to discuss how few states (only six) accepted Medicare when it first came out. She claims that many poor and needy fell through the cracks because of that. However, she offers no proof. I remember hospitals and charities being run by religious groups that took care of the needy. Patients dealt directly with their doctors and hospitals and paid what they could afford. I paid for the birth of my first son using just that method, including some specialists to nurse my wife back to health. I’m sure with government’s “help,” I could never afford it today.
New Hampshire is another target for the good Professor. She thinks it’s horrible that NH will not pass a mandatory seat belt law at the cost of federal highway dollars. It certainly doesn’t stop NH citizens from wearing seat belts; it just doesn’t make them under penalty of law. Maybe NH politicians value liberty and personal responsibility much more than Prof. Ifill and the other 49 herds of sheep.
Continuing with her comments, she notes:
“California was admonished by the U.S. Supreme Court … to reduce severe overcrowding in their prisons.”
She goes on to blame “such sentencing laws – - such as three strikes you’re out.” However, she does not mention that more that 20% of the California state prison population is made up of victims of the federal government’s failed “War on Drugs.” According to Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Estimates and Statistical Analysis Section State of California Offender Information Services Branch March 2012, 11,940 out of a total population of 50,678 are incarcerated for drug violations. Repealing this one program would clear out quite of few prisoners who committed a victimless crime. These numbers are only for the state prison population, overcrowding would probably be reduced at the local level also, saving millions of taxpayers’ dollars. Since she and the Sen. Biden brought up the race issue, it should be noted that persons incarcerated for drug crimes are disproportionally non-white. According to DrugWarFacts.org 67.6% of state prisoners with drug convictions in 2009 were non-white.
As much as it pains me, I do have to agree with her when she says, “What is desperately needed now in state government is the principled leadership of elected leaders.”
We always need quality in any elected local official. And we need it at the federal level too. But that also seems elusive. Unfortunately, we seem to end up not with the best quality, but with the best government money can buy.
I also agree with her statement “The economy has brought about the most challenging state fiscal crisis in several generations.” It starts with reckless spending at the federal level supporting the welfare/warfare state and is exacerbated at the state and local level with unfunded federal mandates and exorbitant salaries and unfunded pension plans. All levels have shown a lack of leadership and the electorate has been either ignoring what was going on, agreed with it because they liked the expansion of services, or were just kept in the dark.
The size and reach of the federal government needs to be severely constricted in accordance with the Tenth Amendment. We cannot afford to pay for it even using our fiat currency. We cannot, nor should we, rely on the Supreme Court, which is one-third of the national government, to restrain the other two-thirds. The need to elect state and local leaders who will stand up to the national government, fight for state sovereignty, and actively work for nullification is crucial.