Friday, January 18, 2013

How the Federal Government Dies

Federal law trumps state and local laws. States have been free to make all the laws they want, but only as long as the laws don't conflict with Federal laws.

What happens when states pass laws that conflict? In the past, the Feds came in and those state laws went away.

That's changing. The most obvious break was when states liberalized their marijuana laws. Those laws are in direct conflict with Federal laws, yet those laws are still on the books. What has happened? The Federal government decided to not enforce Federal laws. They claim to have bigger fish to fry.

The lack of Federal enforcement is one of the factors that has encouraged more states to pass marijuana laws. In this area Federal enforcement has proven to be weak to nonexistent. If a law is not enforced does it really exist?

Now states are making noise that new Federal gun laws will be ignored. In fact, some states are threatening to arrest Federal agents who try to enforce such laws.

What's going on here? I'd say it's the slow shift of power from the Federal government back to the states. During the civil war the Federal government, through force of arms, made it very clear that Federal trumps state law. The question today is: does the Federal government have the will and the means to tell states what to do?

My guess is that the Feds have their hands full. That's not to say they won't make a show of force now and then. In the long run, their power will diminish.

The Federal government rules with carrots and sticks. Their stick has developed a few cracks.

What about the carrot?

They have a lot of carrots yet: Food stamps, Social Security, Pensions, and Jobs. As long as they can still provide carrots, the Feds have influence.

The problem for the feds is that too many groups want those carrots. We can point to abuses with the social safety net, but the expense pales to the breaks big business receives. If they can't say no to giving money to the very profitable oil companies, they can't say no to any big business.

Let's face it, a worker on disability has a lot less political power than a major corporation. In the long run, who do you think will get the carrots?

People still have needs. If they are going to be provided by the Federal government, they will have to be provided in other ways. Will the states pick up the burden? Maybe some of it, but they have financial pressures too. Needs will be filled, but maybe by church groups, family, friends, and local communities. Those who provide what's needed will have the allegiance of the people. People may discover support networks that provide for their needs better than the Federal system. When that happens, the Federal government becomes irrelevant to a person's life.

At some point, the Federal government becomes more of a hindrance than a help. The carrots stop coming and the stick is weak. Once that happens, it's only a matter of time.



  1. As strange as this sounds, I hope you're right, because it sure beats another possible scenario.

    1. Do you mean when people's lives become irrelevant to the Federal government?

    2. Well John, looks like we are well along that road already. It's when the government becomes irrelevant to the people is when it'll get interesting.

  2. All this from a man who's supposed to be on holiday and sailing somewhere out of Florida...

    1. Small craft advisory. Heading out soon though.

  3. States receive federal money for infrastructure, disasters, social programs... on and on. In some cases it isn't even quid pro quo. Funny how the biggest takers at the trough are now the ones now squawking about federal laws.

    1. Coming from a state that gives more than it gets, I watch where the money goes. You are right. Funny, one would think they'd complain the least.

  4. What corporation receives as much as the social security program costs. Obamaphones are worth 6 billion. What sort of subsidity equals that? How about foodstamps or welfare?\

    Nice try but nop cigar.

  5. There is a term I came across, "Statutory Neglect." It means you pass a law and ignore it. In this case that sounds fine but we are a common law country and the law is based on precedent. When you do this you throw over the rule of law and allow for blatant tyranny.

    What happens is you pass a law and ignore it when it is convenient. Then when you have a person you want to nail, you pull out the law, dust it off and send the entire resources of the federal government to nail you. That means that average Joe Citizen, like you and I will be in court and the fat cat FOB's (Which now means Friends of Barak) will be dining at the White House.

    This just gets more scary.

    Grace and peace.