Perfecting Our Union: Ending the War Against the States


“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.”                                                 The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

As the readers of this blog know, I am very concerned about our massive (public) debt, now at 74% of GDP, the highest since the end of WWII. One way to get federal spending under better control is to give more power back to the states (which are required to balance their budgets), as described by Adam Freedman in his new book “A Less Perfect Union: the Case for States Rights.”
CaptureHere are some of the many advantages of doing this, according to Mr. Freedman:

  • Better schools, roads and infrastructure, as states are freed from wasteful federal mandates. The Common Core, for example, should be considered as federal guidelines and not as an attempt to require a specific curriculum.
  • Lower taxes, as states engage in a virtuous competition for citizens and businesses.
  • Improved stewardship of natural resources, as decisions reflect local priorities on land use.
  • Less crowded prisons, by returning criminal jurisdiction to the states, where penal reform is light-years ahead of Washington.
  • An end to national gridlock, as the most divisive social issues devolve to state and local decision-makers. A good example here is the current interest by states and localities to enact their own minimum wage laws. This is far superior to raising the national minimum wage law in a one-size-fits-all manner.


The way to implement a program of giving responsibility back to the states is with block grants. A plan to do this for social welfare programs was formulated by the House Budget Committee just one year ago. It is often suggested to do something similar with federal education programs and with Medicaid as well.
Moving programs back to the states will improve their quality and help get costs under much better control. It makes much sense to move in this direction!

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